DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
The Port Perry MoJacks took their first steps toward the 2015-16 COJHL season last week, when the team hosted their annual Prospect Evaluation Camp at Oshawa’s Campus Ice Centre.
Through three days, potential MoJacks took to the ice in the hopes of impressing the team’s staff enough to move on to eventually suit up for the local Junior ‘C’ hockey team.
MoJacks head coach Clair Cornish noted that there was a lot of talent on the ice, with tough decisions facing his staff as they continue with the evaluation process, made more difficult by the fact that Junior ‘C’ teams are only eligible to have one 16-year-old player signed to their roster.
“Every year, the younger guys seem to be getting better,” Cornish told The Standard. “As a staff, we were pleasantly surprised with the 16-year-old players in camp. It made us wish that we’re able to take more than just one.”
As well, Cornish noted that there notable players from the area taking part in camp.
“There are definitely some local players that have the skills to play in our league,” commented Cornish, who is heading into his second season as head coach of the team he starred for in the early 1990’s.
The next stage for the MoJacks’ prospects will be another evaluation and fitness testing camp - also involving the team’s returning players from last season - at the end of the month.
“This will really give our prospects a full experience of junior hockey with fitness testing to set the bar for the summer, before we host our main training camp,” added Cornish. “We have been trying to consistently elevate our program, and this is the next step. We want Midget players to see Junior ‘C’ as a destination where they can continue their development to possibly move on to higher levels of hockey.”
Amongst the prospects, Cornish explained that he was looking for the team to upgrade their speed and skill following their playoff exit in the preliminary round last year against the Little Britain Merchants.
“I think that we have to get faster. Looking around at the top teams, even beyond our league, they seemed to have more team speed. Also, we have to get more skillful and try and integrate these guys in with the guys that we have coming back.
Cornish noted that depth will ultimately be the key to the MoJacks making a run at a league championship, and success at the provincial level.
“To go deep in the playoffs you have to have depth in your roster and a big part of that, is finding the right players who can play roles all through your lineup.”
Cornish also said that the team was pleased to be able to offer their assistance to the community at the recent compost giveaway, and added that more projects to have the team involved in various ways within the Scugog community are currently being planned by the team.
Meanwhile, the Uxbridge Bruins also started their journey towards the 2015-16 COJHL season last week, as they hosted their annual Prospect Evaluation Camp over four nights at Uxbridge Arena.
Bruins head coach Geoff Hodgkinson was impressed with the talent assembled, and noted that his staff may have some tough choices to make as the evaluation process continues this summer, especially with turnover expected on the Bruins’ roster through age graduation, as well as with some players poised to jump to the Junior ‘A’ level.
“The speed and calibre of play have been very good,” the Bruins’ bench boss told The Standard. “There are a lot of kids impressing us, and with what we potentially will have to replace there are some players here who might be able to make an impact for us this season.”
The Bruins’ camp attracted players from across the GTA, heavily dominated by 16-year-old players that have just completed their minor midget season and 18-year-olds that have exhausted their eligibility at the Midget age group.
“There is a lot of diversity in skills, and we’ve been able to bring in players from a lot of different towns such as Whitby, Markham and Pickering. As usual, there is a strong number of Uxbridge kids in camp, which is always a bonus to be able to draw from the local association,” added Hodgkinson.
The coach also noted that some players have been directed to the team through existing and recent players, which, as Hodgkinson explained, is a valuable recruiting method for the local Junior ‘C’ hockey club.
“It seems like our guys have been doing a really good job of pushing our program, and it’s starting to show up at our camps” said Hodgkinson. “Word of mouth and having our veterans say that their time here was enjoyable is the easiest form of recruiting for us. Our players sending us players is the best thing we can hope for as a staff.”
The next stage in the evaluation process for the Bruins will be a late-June trip to the TEP Showcase Tournament at the MasterCard Centre in Toronto.
“Right now we are looking for someone who can play with ability and determination and showing that he can compete and play at this level with his peers. Then we will move on to the tournament and eventually our main camp,” added Hodgkinson.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
Although there are still several months before the 2015-16 COJHL Junior ‘C’ hockey season gets underway, coaching staffs for the Port Perry MoJacks and Uxbridge Bruins will be busy this week, as both teams host Prospect Evaluation Camps to get their first look at players who may crack the opening-night roster.
The MoJacks’ camp got underway at Campus Ice Centre in Oshawa on Monday, May 11, while at the same time, future Bruins were hitting the ice at Uxbridge Arena.
Opening night for the both camps featured skill development and evaluation sessions, with games slated for later in the week.
The coaches of both teams were excited to get a glimpse of their prospects, after several months of recruiting.
“We’ve done a lot of homework leading up to this week, and have been in contact with a lot of players that we think can come in and hopefully compete for a spot with our club,” MoJacks head coach Clair Cornish told The Standard.
As well, Bruins bench boss Geoff Hodgkinson noted that the team’s staff has been on the recruiting trail in the hopes of adding another solid group of newcomers to the Bruins’ den.
“Our scouting staff works very hard at identifying players that can come in and play our style of hockey. I think there will be some great battles for spots at our main camp this week,” noted Hodgkinson.
Both teams plan to hold other events later this spring in the hopes of opening main training camp with the strongest pool of prospects possible.
Next month, the MoJacks will invite the top performers from this week’s camp to a special spring camp, where they will compete against current players.
In June, the Bruins will once again field a team in the TEP Junior Hockey Showcase tournament at the MasterCard Centre in Toronto. The three-day tournament will also feature COJHL rivals Little Britain and Georgina, as well as several teams from the Junior ‘A’ ranks.
Another hockey sea-son officially came to a close over the weekend, as the Uxbridge Bruins celebrated the 2014-15 campaign with their annual awards banquet on Friday, May 1 at the Uxbridge Legion.
The team marked the end of the Junior ‘C’ season by handing out awards, and honouring the team’s graduating overage players.
General Manager Ron Archibald thanked the players, parents, executive and staff for another exciting season of Bruins hockey, that saw the team reach the COJHL Finals for the third consecutive season after a dramatic late-season surge to finish atop the regular season standings, only to fall to the Clarington Eagles.
“Our late season rush to finish in first place was exciting and big picture-wise, we had a good year,” Archibald said. “It’s a team effort and I appreciate all of you putting your hearts and soul into this hockey club and doing things the Bruins’ way.”
Archibald also noted the remarkable leadership shown by the team’s three overage players: Carter Vahey, Tyson Eastgate and Jarett Smith throughout the season.
“Those are the guys that we really looked to for leadership, and they showed that that’s why those players stick around for that overage season, and do things the right way, on and off the ice.”
The team honoured several players for their contributions over the course of the season, including a trio of local products. Second-year defenceman Thomas Sheedy was named Most Improved Player. Rookie of the Year went to Connor Evans. Dylan Locke walked away with the team’s Most Sports-manlike Award.
As well, two of the graduating players earned individual aw-ards, with Carter Vahey named Defence-man of the Year, and Tyson Eastgate earning the Coach’s Award.
The Bruins’ staff was split on Most Valuable Player, ultimately naming co-MVPs in Marco Mastrangelo and Branden Francey.
Head Coach Geoff Hodgkinson spoke about the memorable moments in his second year behind the bench.
“Finishing with a record of 30-9-3 and not giving up 10 regulation losses is a great achievement,” Hodgkinson said. “Our penalty kill being number-one in the league is a testament to how we bought into the defensive philosophy.”
As well, Hodgkinson noted a bright spot for his charges in the Battle of North Durham against the rival Port Perry MoJacks.
“Scoring four shorthanded goals in less than two-and-a-half minutes has got to be some sort of a record,” Hodgkinson said of the team’s offensive output during the Jan. 18 game in Port Perry, in which Uxbridge prevailed by a score of 6-1.
As well, the coach made special mention of team’s road trip to Apsley in a blizzard on Jan. 3
“Our first father’s road trip to North Kawartha was probably the worst weather I’ve ever gone through to get to a game.”
The team is already busy preparing for next season, and the Bruins’ 2015 Prospect Evaluation Camp will hit the ice at Uxbridge Arena, starting four nights of action on Monday, May 11.
For more information on the team, including volunteer opportunities
for the 2015-16 COJHL season, please visit the team’s web site at www.uxbridgebruins.com.
Port Perry’s Matt Hossack has shown the eye of the tiger on the field as of late, picking up Liberty League tournament MVP honours over the weekend, leading the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) men's lacrosse team to a fourth consecutive conference championship, and an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament. As well, he was named 2015 Liberty League Defensive Player of the Year earlier this week.
Hossack submitted a sensational performance in the Tigers’ 25-14 win over Union in the championship game, on Sunday, May 3, scoring a career-high six goals, grabbing seven ground balls and causing three turnovers, while winning eight of 13 face-offs.
"Matt was all over the place for us today," said RIT head coach Jake Coon. "He was the best player on the field and very much deserving of the MVP.”
This season, the 21-year-old graduate of Port Perry H.S. has started all 18 games at long-stick midfield, leading the team with 43 caused turnovers and 91 ground balls. He has also chipped in offensively, currently sitting tenth on the team in scoring with 20 points (10 goals and 10 assists). The Tigers come into the tournament ranked first in the nation with a spotless 18-0 record, scoring 330 goals to lead the nation. For the second straight season, the Tigers went undefeated in regular season play.
RIT opened tournament play on Wednesday, May 6 at home against Morrisville State (11-5) in the first round at Tiger Stadium in Rochester.
In last season’s tournament, the Tigers defeated Union in the quarterfinals before falling to the eventual national champ-ion, Tufts in the semifinals. Overall, RIT has made five straight trips to the national quarterfinals, three trips to the national semifinals (2011, 2013, 2014) and ap-peared in its first champion-ship game in 2013.
In addition to competing with the Tigers, Hossack also competes in the summer with the Whitby Warriors Junior ‘A’ lacrosse team. In 2014, he was named a second team All-Star b.y the league.
As well, Hossack was an accomplished hockey player with the Port Perry Predators and Central Ontario Wolves. He was named team MVP in 2007, helping the PeeWee Predators win a Lakeshore League championship, as the team advanced to the OMHA semi-finals