Les Cougars de Vankleek Hill ont fait leurs adieux à Keean McEachern, Nickolas Castonguay, Nikolas Ayotte, Vincent Huneault, Trystan Lavoie, Charles-Olivier Portelance et Sam Lemay.
Les Cougars de Vankleek Hill ont fait leurs adieux à Keean McEachern, Nickolas Castonguay, Nikolas Ayotte, Vincent Huneault, Trystan Lavoie, Charles-Olivier Portelance et Sam Lemay.

Cougars bid farewell to ‘99 graduates

Stephen Jeffery
EAP
The Vankleek Hill Cougars have held a bittersweet farewell to their 21-year-olds at the end of an unusual winter of hockey.  

Keean McEachern, Nickolas Castonguay, Nikolas Ayotte, Vincent Huneault, Trystan Lavoie, Charles-Olivier Portelance, and Sam Lemay were thanked for their dedication to the team and their efforts over the years.  

Unable to play their last season with the team in a regular competition, the club instead created an inter-squad “COVID Cup”. The competitions, held on most weekends, gave the departing players the chance to get back onto the ice, even if it was not against other clubs. 

Coach-owner Franky Dopelhamer said some of the boys would go out as champions, given their part in securing the 2018-19 championship. The 2019-20 season was cut short when the pandemic arrived, while the 2020-21 season was cancelled after post-Christmas lockdown forced the National Capital Junior Hockey League to abandon plans for a shortened tournament in January. 

“It is sad for the owners and coaches to see these boys go and not have a chance to compete for the cup, but they will always remain part of the Cougars family,” Dopelhamer said. “Everyone will definitely miss seeing them on the ice in the Den. But whatever they do next, they should be proud; These boys are what hockey is about. They played through the wins, the losses, the ups and downs and through this pandemic.” 

Team sports, with the exception of training, were banned indoors when the region entered the red zone last week. The region has since moved into a province-wide “shutdown” with tighter restrictions. The Vankleek Hill Arena has closed for the season.