Monday, November 30, 2009

Pre-game & New Rink!

OK, new rink first.

As of March 2011 the Cougars will have a brand new ice surface to play on and you can help to determine how the facility will end up.

Go here to take a look at the 5 proposed designs.  There are concept images and layout designs accompanied by a 2-page press release for each of the 5 companies bidding on the project.

I like the look of the Peak design and it has a nice plan for an upstairs atrium with a view of both pads.  However, the Bird design has by far the best seating arrangement as it is the only plan that has seating going all the way around the ice surface.  The other 4 designs propose a style similar to the Belleville Bulls' arena, which is a fine facility, but I like to have seats behind the nets and in the corners.

All 5 companies are going to make a 10 minute presentation about their design proposal tonight at 6pm at the council meeting.

You also have until this Thursday (December 3rd) to fill out the "Design Response Form" found on that page so fill one out and make sure your voice is heard.

Oh right, the pre-game.

The Stouffville Spirit are in town tonight.  You know, that team with the great penalty killing and awful power play?  They're also one of 5 teams within the 27-31 points range in the standings that the Cougars (23 points) need to make up some ground on, so there are two important points on the line.  Come on out and watch!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tough Loss in OT

The Cougars salvaged a point in yet another high-scoring affair but they really should have come away with two points against a team below them in the standings.

The most exciting minute of the game came at the halfway point.  At 10:02 Pickering's Tyler von Engelbrechten scored to put the Panther's up 3-1, which at the time felt like that "next goal" that usually puts a game away.  But Cobourg quickly responded with two goals in the next 55 seconds from Thompson and Couto.  The teams exchanged goals until the end of regulation and both came out flying in the extra period.

There was a controversial moment less than a minute into the OT period when Ramsay and Herrington got tangled up with one another on the way out of Cobourg's zone and Herrington was assessed an interference minor after the Pickering player fell to the ice with a flourish.  The crowd was none too pleased with the call and became even more incensed when Ramsay himself scored the winning goal on a nice cross-crease feed from Jesse Hebscher just before the penalty was due to expire.

Next on the docket is a game in Ajax where the Cougars will attempt to get two very important points and their 4th road win of the season from an Attack team that is certainly beatable, tied for 3rd worst in the goals allowed category.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pickering Panthers Pre-game Primer

Pardon the alliteration.

For the first time in a very long time the Cougars are going to play a team that is actually behind them in the standings.  Small victories people! 

The Panthers have struggled mightily over the past few weeks winning only two of their past nine games and are an abysmal 2-0-10 on the road this season.  The two teams have played each other twice this year, earning one win apiece, making this Cobourg's golden opportunity to take the lead in the season series.

There are only 10 home games left in the season so the Cougars need to start posting some W's on home ice if they want to play some meaningful hockey in January.  Come on out and watch them go for it.

Branden Morris update:
7 GP, 0G, 2A, +3, 7 PIM

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 18th Pre-Game

Hey there sports fans!  I covered tonight's matchup in my blog the other day but I'll try to give you a bit of a primer here.

Firstly, you should all visit the CCHL website and check out the stats they have there.  Pointstreak does a phenomenal job of compiling statistics and on the day of or day before a matchup you can find a detailed team comparison up in the Scoreboard area. It's seriously like 37 pages of information - no typo.

If you peruse that particular document you'll discover that the Junior Canadiens really know how to score - or at least two of them do.  If the Cougars can shut down the line with Jackson and McDonough they might escape with two points.  If not it could be a long night for Mr. Behling.

In contrast, the Cougars have developed some scoring depth with Matt Diminie, Adam Place, Brandon Couto, James Diminie and, recently, Dylan McMahon all lighting the lamp.  James Diminie has been particularly resurgent of late and you can find a great article about him in today's edition of Northumberland Today.

For those of you who have Twitter but aren't following the Cougars, shame on you.  For those of you who don't have Twitter, go get it!  It's just a simple way to keep track of the things and people you're interested in.  Go here to sign up and HERE to follow the Cougars!

For those of you who do have Twitter and do follow the Cougars, congratulations!  You were fortunate enough to have seen the following stat:

The Cougars have a team +/- of -1, not counting special teams, meaning that the opposition has outscored Cobourg by a total of one goal all year (100 GF, 101 GA).

The Ajax Attack has been outscored 124 - 105 on the year (-19).

Despite this, the Attack sit at 10th overall in CCHL standings while the Cougars sit at 17th.  Frustrated yet?

Come out tonight to watch the Cougars get back to a positive team +/- for the first time since October 5th!  For those of you scoring at home that means they will outscore the Junior Canadiens, thus winning the game and establishing their longest winning streak of the year at four games.

Go Cougars!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Strong Outing by the Cougars

For the first time since that laugher on Hallowe'en the Cougars put on a dominating performance at home, trouncing the visiting Peterborough Liftlock Stars 7-2.

The Stars came in with one of the lowest GAA's in the league but the Cougars unleashed a steady barrage of shots on Zac Fryia, chasing him from the net at the end of the 2nd period.  The backup, Real Cormier, fared no better as he allowed 3 goals on 14 shots in the third.  The Stars lack of scoring punch was evident all night and particularly while their forwards whiffed on a few one-timer opportunities when the game was still somewhat close late in the second.  Behling had to make a few good stops while the Stars had the man advantage but the Cougars gave him a relatively easy night between the pipes.

Cobourg has established two very effective scoring lines up front and have been giving opposing defenses fits when they gain possession down low in the offensive zone.  The line of Couto and the Diminies was prolific, combining for 5 goals and 9 points, which took some pressure of of the Place-Thompson-Foote line, which had been very productive for the past few games.

Things got a little out of hand at the end as Cobourg continued to dent the twine.  Emotions boiled over when Troy Barss dealt a vicious two-hander to Brendan Sims after the whistle had gone.  Sims was the bigger man, skating away and refusing to get involved in the Stars' childish antics.

The Toronto Junior Canadiens come in tomorrow with 15 wins under their belt so they'll present a tough challenge to the Cougars who will need all of the momentum from last night's game to get a win.  On a positive note, Toronto is 5-8 on the road so hopefully Cobourg can capitalize on the Junior Canadiens' struggles away from home ice.  Kelly Jackson and Jason McDonough have been a dynamic duo combining for 30 goals and 77 points so far so it will be important for the Cougar's D-men to shut them down.

Come on out and support the team.  7pm puck drop at the old Barn!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Developing Talent + Peterborough Pre-Game

Hey there sports fans,
  There are currently two Cougars who started the 09/10 season on the Cougars' roster who are now plying their trade in the OHL.  Defenseman Anton Zupancic was drafted by the Kitchener Rangers and then traded to the Sarnia Sting before the season even began.  Branden Morris played 21 games for the Cougars scoring 4 goals and 14 points before also being snatched up by the Kitchener Rangers.
  Anton, who turned 17 this month, played two games with the Sting before getting hurt and has since played 10 games with the Sarnia Legionnaires.  He is an aggressive player who doesn't score much but definitely seeks to intimidate the other team.
  Branden, who turned 17 in March, is a much more offensive-minded player.  In 6 games with the Rangers he has notched 2 assists and has a +2 rating.  Solid numbers for a young player in a brand new league.
  Defense has been the Cougars' Achilles Heel all season so losing these two players has been a huge blow to the Cougars' back-end.  The Cougars lack a consistent goal-scoring presence from the blue line and a tough bruising player who can dish out punishment to the other team's forward and Morris as well as Zupancic would fit the bill perfectly.  However, losing your best players to the next level is business as usual in a league focused on development.  Situations like these are certainly a double-edged sword and they provide a very good reason to come out and watch these guys play hockey.

   Gone are the days of icing squads that simply have the best chance to win.  Teams in the newly formed CCHL share a commitment to developing young players to go on to the next level, whether that level is College, University, the OHL or some other upper echelon league.  The promotions of Morris and Zupancic are proof of this new reality.  The downside is that rosters are composed of younger players who tend to be inconsistent but it also showcases some young players who possess the innate hockey skills to some day become great hockey players and human beings later in life.
  You might point out that every team in the CCHL is in the same boat, so citing the goal of development as the reason for a poor record is inaccurate.  And if you did you'd be right.  The entire management team, from ownership to management to coaches to players, are dissatisfied with the team's slow start and changes are pending or have already been made.

  The Peterborough Liftlock Stars come into town tonight as the least active (19 GP) and 3rd lowest scoring team in the entire CCHL.  None of their forwards have scored more than 7 goals or 13 points - in comparison the Cougars' top scorers are Adam Place (36 points), Matt Diminie (30 points) and Stefan Thompson (29 points).  Clearly, the Cougars hold the edge in just about every offensive category and with three wins in their last five games, one of them against a very good Markham team, the team is showing some signs of life as they look to claw their way out of the basement in the Eastern Division.  Peterborough's strength is in net as Zac Fryia has posted solid stats with a .912 save percentage and a 2.99 GAA.  The Cougars' scorers will have their work cut out for them if the Stars put him between the pipes tonight.

Puck drops at 7 PM.  See you there.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

5-4 Cougars. Awesome.

Well, it wasn't the low-scoring affair I predicted, but the Cougars did indeed manage to beat the 2nd place Markham Waxers 5-4 in overtime last night. The offense was impressive, as scoring 5 goals against a team that came in ranked 5th in total goals allowed on the season is no mean feat. 

The teams traded goals, in typical high-scoring Cougar fashion, making for a scintillating hockey game.  The 250+ fans certainly got their money's worth last night - and a great Remembrance Day ceremony to boot!  Hats off to the Cobourg Pipe and the Veterans who helped to give the ceremony a sense of sincerity and authenticity.

Adam Place continues to be a monster for the team, scoring two goals and assisting on the game winner with 0:44 left in OT.  Foote had a great night for his fantasy owners (kidding..) with the game winning goal, two assists, four penalty minutes and a +1 rating.  Finally, I need to mention Lawton McCracken's incredible work in overtime.  While the Cougars were shorthanded he blocked three shots, one of which was a certain goal with Behling way out of position, and cleared the zone at least twice.  If the Cougars continue to get big games like this from their big players they could start to make a serious push up the standings.

Recently, the club lost Branden Morris to the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL.  Branden was easily one of their best players on the Cougars during their recent run of high-octane hockey.  It's a big loss on the fragile back end but it's a fantastic sign for the CCHL as it is working to become a legitimate developmental league for players to go on to the OHL, College and maybe even the NHL.  Stay tuned for a blog on this in a few days.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Markham Pre-Game

The Markham Waxers come into town tonight to face a gradually improving Cobourg squad.  The Cougars have 4 wins in their last 9 games; not too bad considering their record of 3 and 11 to begin the season.

This improvement can be attributed to a maturing offense that has begun to spread some scoring throughout the roster.  Matt Diminie and Adam Place are tied for 8th in the league in the category of goals scored and Stefan Thompson is a respectable seventh in the assists category.

The stats start to get ugly when you scroll down the list of +/- leaders and notice that there isn't a Cougar until the mid 40's.  This team has to improve it's defensive play if it really wants to start converting the fruits of its emerging offense into victories.

Aside from having one of the greatest team names in the league, the Waxers come in with a very impressive 10-2-3-4 record and some solid players on their roster.  David Titanic (yet another righteous name) leads their team with 15 goals and 25 points while their crease is patrolled by the effective tandem of Dylan Ellis and Franky Palazzese who have both posted impressive numbers to this point.  They have lost 2 of their last 3 games (one to former Cougar Chris Azzano in an impressive 33 save, 1 goal performance!) so this is a Markham team that has looked beatable over the past week or so.

If the Cougars can play a defensive game and find some of the magic in a bottle that they unleashed against Lindsay the other night they should be able to come out of this game with at least one point.  The Waxers are a solid defensive team so goals will be hard to come by.  The key will be for the defense to contain the Titanic, who is the lynchpin in Markham's mediocre offense.  If they can do that the Cougars might actually play in a low-scoring game, certainly a rarity for them.

See you at the game!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Big Win!

It was a romp on All Hallow's Eve in the Jack Heenan Arena on Saturday night.  The Cougars blew out every bulb on the scoreboard en route to a 9-1 thrashing of the Whitby Fury.  The win merely illustrated one of the more frustrating aspects of the Cougars' season so far.

With a team +/- of only -5 through 20 games it seems like the Cougars should deserve a better spot in the standings than last in the East.  Ajax (who plays in Cobourg tonight by the way... get to the arena and watch!) has a team +/- of -7 and yet they sit a full 7 points ahead of Cobourg in the standings!  This curious statistic is a product of two things: close losses and blow-out victories.  Hopefully the Cougars can maintain this scoring touch and get on a winning streak because they need to put up some serious points to get back into the middle of the pack.

See you tonight at the game!  And hey, if you go to a bunch of games do yourself a favour and by a 10-game flex pack for $75.  You'll save 2.50 per game and they can be used at any home game for the rest of the season!