Tuesday, January 26, 2010

No Place At Home (Bowmanville 4, Cobourg 2)

Sorry, that's the best I could do.

Former Cougar, Adam Place did not suit up for the Eagles last night so he missed his opportunity to play in front of the home crowd he started the year with.  Reportedly, he missed the game with a bruised elbow.  Poor devil.

Scott Sandercock, a player who came back in the Place deal, did manage to have a good night against his former club, earning a goal and an assist in the game.  Sandercock just towers above everybody on the ice with an imposing 6'5" 235 pound frame - and he's only 18 years old!

When a team scores the first and last goal of a game there's usually a good chance that they'll get the win but that just wasn't the case for the Cougars last night.  Bowmanville would score four unanswered goals after Cobourg's opening tally and they just couldn't climb out of that hole.

The Cougars failed to get a win but they did get their money's worth for the officials last night.  All told, last night's officiating crew called a total of 36 infractions, resulting in 20 individual penalties served and a whopping 69 minutes in penalties.  Perhaps they purchased new whistles for the playoffs and wanted to break them in.  Needless to say, coaches on both sides of the ice were beside themselves.

Despite this onslaught of officiating there were only two powerplay goals scored during the entire game.  Weird stuff!

Cobourg was officially elminated from playoff contention with the loss and their next game will be at home to the Lindsay Muskies, who just might bring Matt Diminie and Brandon Couto along for the trip.  Come on out for the last home game of the year!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bowmanville Pre-game

Hey folks!  I've been away for a few weeks due to being busy and a wonky Cougars home schedule but I'm back for the home stretch.

The Cougars welcome the Bowmanville Eagles to town tonight and will face Adam Place for the first time since he was traded away a few weeks ago.  Bowmanville is having a very strong finish to the season and have won five straight heading into tonight's contest - Adam place has 6 points, including two shorthanded goals, during the winning streak.

Cobourg has also played some good hockey lately, picking up 7 points of a possible 10 in their past five games.  The new top line of Stefan Thompson, Brooks Behling and James Diminie has been lighting it up with 10 goals over that stretch.  Even the energetic Brad Down has been putting points on the board with 4 points in the past five games.

Now that the 16 and 17 year olds are getting some more ice time, this is a good chance to come out and have a look at the young core that should help the Cougars to climb the standings in the coming seasons.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Big Changes!

Sorry for the leave of absence - I've had some important educational matters to contend with...

Plenty has changed in the past week in the Cougars dressing room!  Gone are the team's top three scorers, Matt Diminie, Brandon Couto and Adam Place in exchange for younger players and cash considerations.

The window of opportunity to make the playoffs had closed itself by the new year and it made sense for the team to maximize the value of their assets.  All three departing players are twenty years old and will have their Junior A eligibility expire before next season begins so anything the Cougars received out of these deals that they can use going forward is a definite step in the right direction for this club.

There is still a young core in place on this club and goal scoring was not the issue this season.  Goaltending and special teams, or more specifically Special Teams +/- ([PPG For + SHG For] - [PPG Against + SHG Against]), were the biggest hurdles for this year's Cougars.  If they can bring in a top-flight goaltender and a stud defenseman or two to go along with McCracken and Morris (He's back by the way! Thanks Kitchener!) they will be in pretty good shape for the 2010-2011 season - one that they could potentially finish out in the town's brand new rink!!

The team still maintains control of Stefan Thompson, Dylan McMahon and James Diminie who can all light the lamp and will need to do so with a little more regularity in the absence of the team's core offensive players for the season.

They began their post-deadline stretch with a bang on Monday, beating the Markham Waxers (still probably my favourite team name in the CCHL) by a score of 6 - 5 in a typical Cobourg Cougars barn-burning home game.

Scott Sandercock, one of the team's newest players acquired in the deal with Bowmanville for Adam Place, registered a goal and three points on the night.  He could be a very valuable part of this team's power play moving forward with his mammoth 6'5" - 235 pound frame.  Good luck to all of the 17 year old defensemen trying to push him out of the crease!

The last stretch of home games should be a fun watch as plenty of young players will get a chance to prove their mettle and they will definitely be playing a rather energetic brand of hockey.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Solid Win

The Cougars played a very pleasing brand of hockey tonight, beating the Eastern Division leading Bowmanville Eagles by a score of 3-2.  The Cougars had plenty of opportunities to pack it in and resign themselves to losing to a team that would be considered the superior team on most nights by most people.  However, they scoffed at these opportunities, forechecked like animals and buried their chances when they presented themselves.

Bowmanville opened the scoring on their first shot of the game, usually a harbinger of a rough game. But Matt Kaludis steadied his nerves and played what was perhaps one of his best games of the entire season en route to a 29 save performance, making sixteen of them in the third frame.  In fact, the Eagles scored their 2nd goal on what was probably (don't quote me) their final shot of the game as they potted one with their goalie pulled in the final minute of the game.

Fun Fact: Bierworth, Bowmanville's goalie tonight, is a Cobourg boy AND Assistant Coach Brad Whelan's cousin.  Small world!

The plucky Cougars increased their point total by 10% tonight (from 20 to 22) but their playoff hopes are on life support.  I'll do the math in another post but I can tell you it's not impossible, just nearing the realm of improbable.  The key is to beat good teams (like Wellington, Burlington and Bowmanville) while beating teams that are near you in the standings.  Sigh....

Even if the Cougars miss the playoffs (italics still necessary) there are a whole pile of good things to take out of this season, the foremost being scholarship and advancement opportunities for the players.  That's another thing to be covered in a future post but it's something that the team takes very seriously.

Hope you were lucky enough to enjoy the game live tonight!  Seeya next time.

Happy New Year!

Hey folks, hope everybody had a safe and happy holiday season.  I've taken a little holiday from the Blog but there will be regular updates from now until the end of the season.  I've also noticed that some of you have been leaving comments, which is great!  Rest assured that all of the feedback we receive will find its way up to the highest echelons of the Cougars' management.

Since the big 5-2 home win over the Dukes on December 21st it's been fairly quiet but the team has played two games since.  Both were uncharacteristically low-scoring games and both were tough losses as the goalies they faced combined to stop 54 of the 56 shots launched at them by the Cougars, good for a .964 SV%.  (Or a .036 shooting percentage for the Cougars if you're a glass-half-empty kind of person.)  It's far too late in the season to play your best hockey against the best teams only to take your foot off the gas against opponents playing .500 hockey

A very tough opponent comes to town tonight in the Bowmanville Eagles.  The Eagles' record of 21-3-3-9 is nearly a mirror image of the Cougars' 11-2-4-23 mark.  Like most of the other top teams in the CCHL Bowmanville has amassed their wins through solid goaltending and special teams (9th ranked PP at 19.4%, 2nd ranked PK at 87.3%), things the Cougars have struggled to maintain consistency with this season.

Statistically the Cougars have been a decent team this season.  Not a great team, but certainly not as bad as their record might indicate.  They're 6th in goals for (156) and right around the middle of the pack in PP% (16.1, 14th) and PK% (80.7, 15th).  Goals against (166) have been an issue but there are still six other teams worse than them in that category.  In fact, their team +/- of -10 is much better than Ajax (-27), St. Mikes (-23) and North York (-24) who are all ahead of Cobourg in the standings.  It boils down to the fact that the Cougars lose too many close games and win their share of laughers.  It also doesn't help that they're 0-5 against those three teams...

See you at the game tonight!