J. WALLY NESBITT The Standard
Jason Hathaway snatched the race lead away from Scott Steckly on a Lap 47 caution period restart and then kept his #3 Williamson (Uxbridge)/ Bio 2000 Pressure Wash/ L&C Construction Chevrolet at the front of the 22 car field for the remaining 203 consecutive laps to record the victory in the Pinty's 250, the final round on the 2015 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series schedule, run on Saturday, Sept. 19 at Kawartha Speedway.
Hathaway's most recent victory comes on the same circuit where he scored his first career NCATS win eight years previously.
“We came here to win and to lead the most laps, and we got that part covered,” noted Hathaway from Victory Lane. “We got three wins this season and we weren't even supposed to make it past the fourth race. We might just have to come back (to the series) next year.”
Despite a dominating performance from the Uxbridge driver, because polesitter and point leader Steckly finished just .368 seconds behind him in the runner-up position, Hathaway's championship challenge ultimately came up four points shy of the crown as Steckly secured his record-setting fourth Canadian Tire Series championship.
Former series champions DJ Kennington and LP Dumoulin, along with Rookie of the Year runner-up Marc-Antoine Camirand, rounded out the top five race finishers.
A notable and impressive performance was turned in by sixth place finisher, 15 year-old Cayden Lapcevich. Qualifying his #76 Tim Horton's Dodge on the outside of the front row, the third-generation driver ran solidly in the top three throughout the opening 200 laps of the event before the handling started to go away in the car and he was forced to slow in order to complete the full, 250 lap distance.
In the final point standings, former two-time series champion Andrew Ranger concluded his season in third place, 14 points behind Hathaway, with LP Dumoulin and Kennington rounding out the top five. In the Rookie of the Year chase, Gary Klutt, the winner of the season's opening race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, edged Camirand by a single point, the two drivers finishing in sixth and seventh place overall, respectively.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
It’s been a learning experience for the Port Perry MoJacks since opening training camp over a week ago in preparation for the upcoming COJHL season.
Opening pre-season play last week against the Little Britain Merchants, the MoJacks rolled out back-to-back wins, prevailing 7-1 in Lindsay and 4-2 on home ice at Scugog Arena.
It was the first meeting between the rival clubs since the fifth-seeded Merchants upset the fourth-place MoJacks three-games-to-one in the preliminary round of last year’s COJHL playoffs.
Two-goal nights from Tayler Bidon and Nitchell Gustavsen led the way for the MoJacks in their pre-season opener on Tuesday, Sept. 1. Austin Mackie, Ethan Ramsden and Todd McNair would all chip in with singles in the 7-1 win, with Nate Watson netting the Merchants’ lone goal.
On Thursday night, the two sides renewed hostilities at Scugog Arena, with a familiar result, as Graham Lamers, Bryce Patterson, Ben Shermetta and Jordan McCullough all scored for Port Perry, with Watson scoring both goals for the visiting Shopkeepers.
For both coaches, the result was secondary to the effort put forth on the ice, as teams pare down their numbers ahead of the 2015-16 COJHL campaign, which gets underway next weekend.
“For us, it comes down to simple things, and asking players to do things on the ice and seeing how they respond,” MoJacks head coach Clair Cornish told The Standard. “Most of all, you want to see if they’re making good hockey plays and showing good discipline.”
Overall, Cornish has been impressed with the skills on display through the first week of training camp.
“We’ve seen some excellent skill sets, and that’s what we were looking for coming into this season, and will hopefully be an area of our game where we are able to improve this season.”
Likewise, Merchants bench boss Rob Louttit has been pleased with the competitive nature of Little Britain’s camp.
“We’ve had some really pleasant surprises so far, and we’re bringing back a good group of veteran players that will hopefully be able to guide some of the new guys,” Louttit explained. “Chemistry is really important to us, and we’ll be looking to do some more team-building exercises before the season starts to make sure that we are all on the same page.”
A notable addition to the Merchants’ line-up this season will be 20-year-old Uxbridge native Keegan Cairns, who joins the team after spending the previous two seasons in the Junior ‘A’ ranks with the Lindsay Muskies. The 6’1” 180 lb. forward scored 12 goals and added 24 assists in 45 games with the Muskies last season. In 2013, Cairns suited up for his hometown Bruins, finishing with 30 points.
“It’s exciting to be back in the Central. Hopefully we can improve on last year’s finish. There are a lot of great fans in Little Britain, and hopefully we give them some exciting hockey to cheer about this year,” Cairns explained to The Standard.
- This weekend, the MoJacks will return to the Alliston Hornets Pre-Season Tournament. Over the past eight years, the MoJacks have enjoyed some great success at the tournament, which will feature 12 teams, drawn from the COJHL and Georgian Bay Mid-Ontario League.
The MoJacks open play on Friday, Sept. 11, at 8 p.m. against the Orillia Terriers. On Saturday, the MoJacks will hope for some good luck when the tangle with the Erin Shamrocks at 11:30 a.m., before wrapping up round robin play against the host Hornets at 3:45 p.m. The semi-finals are on Sunday at 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., with the championship game slated for 3 p.m.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
A large contingent of returning players are fueling the optimism of Port Perry MoJacks head coach Clair Cornish as the local Junior ‘C’ hockey team prepares for the upcoming 2015-16 COJHL season.
A total of 48 players were part of the action over the weekend looking to impress Cornish and his staff, as the MoJacks opened training camp with an off-ice training session, followed by a pair of spirited sessions on the ice at Campus Ice Centre in Oshawa.
The MoJacks hit the ice at Scugog Arena on Thursday, Sept. 3, for an exhibition encounter with the Little Britain Merchants at 8 p.m. Earlier in the week, the MoJacks traveled to Lindsay on Tuesday, Sept. 1 (after The Standard’s press deadline) to open their pre-season schedule against the Merchants.
Although the team will have some key spots to fill due to some players moving on to higher levels of junior hockey, Cornish is confident in the MoJacks’ returning players, as well as a solid crop of newcomers, will help to keep the team competitive in the COJHL this season.
“We’re happy with our turnout,” Cornish told The Standard. “One of the things we’re looking to do this year is get quicker, and we have a great group to achieve that goal. The pace seems to get better every year.
Among the players departing the team this year are defenceman Liam Schweda, a Port Perry Minor Hockey product now with the Junior ‘A’ Lindsay Muskies, as well as forwards Kyle Powell and Cole Murray. However, Cornish and his staff have been hard at work scouting to try and bolster the team’s line-up.
“Players moving on is a part of junior hockey. We’ve done a good job of recruiting, and hope that we can add some quality players to our program. We’ve been out watching games since February to try and identify those that will fit with the MoJacks.”
With a highly-regarded group of prospects vying for spots on the team, Cornish expects fierce competition as training camp wears on, including a trip to Alliston next weekend for the annual Hornets Pre-Season Tournament.
“We should have a good battle in net with a number of really good goalies that will all get a good look to show what they can do,” added Cornish. “In front of them, we’ve brought in a lot of quality players, including some Midget ‘AAA’ players that have had a lot of success in their minor hockey careers.”
However, Cornish admits that the fate of the team ultimately lies with its core of returning players, including dynamic forwards Lucas Clark, Jeff St. Pierre, Graham Lamers, Kyle Schweda, Konrad Piorkowski and captain Lucas Berkers, who will once again be called upon to anchor Port Perry’s defence.
“We have a lot of returning guys and good systems in place. What we will really need is big years out of those returning players that have now played in this league for multiple seasons and have seen what it takes to be successful at this level.”