Everyone’s favourite time of the year is playoff time, and whether it be at the professional or junior level, the regular season’s stretch run always provides for dramatic finishes and great entertainment. In the CCHL, this is definitely no different.
The excitement in the CCHL dives deep into the later rounds of the Bogart Cup playoffs, however the intensity of the playoffs has already been established, and it comes toward the bottom of the standings with the bottom half of the league fighting to either cling on to their spot, or to gain some extra games.
Healthily inside the playoff race are the likes of Brockville and Nepean, with 51 and 55 points respectively. At 51 points, it’s miraculous that anyone would talk about the Braves being potentially unseated – this has been mentioned a few times, but at this point with an 8 point advantage over 8th place Kanata, the rumblings have no ground. Expect to see Brockville in the playoffs this March.
The Kanata franchise currently in 8th has undergone some changes at the administrative level, with the club being sold to a group headed by Cory Greer. John Hill, formerly of the EOJHL’s Ottawa Jr. Canadians, will oversee the on-ice functions of the team as Director of Hockey Operations.
Perhaps the most significant change sees a mid-season rebrand being undertaken, with the team changing names from the Kanata Stallions to the Kanata Lasers.
The Lasers have dropped in the standings since the rebrand begun, but that is mostly due to the hot play of the Kemptville 73’s, who overtook the Lasers for 7th. While the Lasers have slightly stalled going 2-6-0-2 in their last 10 games, the 73’s have done just the opposite.
Fresh off of a 7-1 streak, Kemptville has put themselves in a very good position to qualify for the playoffs, sitting in the 7th seed as of today, with a 3 point advantage on the Lasers.
This has been done thanks to the hot play of new starting goaltender Matt Couvrette, who has been solid in goal for the 73’s. Couvrette’s numbers haven’t been off the charts (3.31, .902), but he provides his club with an opportunity to win the game every night. New near-deadline acquisition Daniele Disipio has also been on a torrid pace since throwing on a 73’s uniform, posting point-per-game numbers in his 6 games with the team.
Since that streak, Kemptville has dropped their last two games, giving two teams vying for that 8th spot a little bit of breathing room.
Those clubs are the Gloucester Rangers and the Cumberland Grads. Gloucester has put themselves back into the playoff race with a few extra wins against tough opponents, including a comeback win over the Brockville Braves and surviving a shootout against the Pembroke Lumber Kings just a few days ago.
Cumberland has been steadily in and around 9th place for the last month or so, now experiencing some push back from the Rangers who appeared to be out of the race just a few games ago.
Earlier today, the Rangers and Grads faced off at the Navan Arena, with Riley Hennigar cashing in the game winner propelling Cumberland to a 3-2 win in regulation time. The win was their second in two games against Gloucester, putting the rest of the CCHL on notice as the threat to watch out for headed into the last few weeks of the regular season.
In order to do so, the Grads have a few games of note to get through, including a rematch with Gloucester at Earl Armstrong Arena this coming Friday night followed by a match-up versus the league’s best team in Carleton Place on Saturday – a game that could prove to be the biggest of Cumberland’s season.
The CCHL regular season will end with 5 games on March 7th. Until then, expect to see many heated affairs between the teams mentioned above.