Looking back on Rebels 2014-15 Jr. ‘B’ season
Char-Lan junior ‘B’ Rebels head coach Eric Fontaine sees plenty of positives in his team’s 2014-15 EOJHL season, which saw the boys test Casselman in the first round of the playoffs, pushing the highlytouted Vikings to six hard-fought games.
In the coach’s own words, “The way we started the season with only 4 points in 11 games, we could have folded up the tent then. The guys stayed positive and kept the spirits up, and gradually we kept digging ourselves out of the hole. The highlight was when the team came together after Christmas, and we were playing our best hockey and reached our potential after the hard work and determination. Obviously beating Casselman the last week of the season and beating them twice in the playoffs and being one goal away from taking it to game 7 was definitely a highlight. I told the guys the only people that believed we could win were the 20 guys in our dressing room. After we beat [the Vikings] in game 5, we had more people jump on the bandwagon thinking we could win. That is a story in itself. I think the playoffs really taught some guys a lesson moving forward to next year.”
One player who won’t be with the club in the fall is local defenceman Jesse Fontaine, who has completed his junior hockey eligibility. On the blueliner, the coach says, “Jesse was a great leader for us and kept things light when we were going through our struggles. He is a passionate guy and plays with a lot of emotion. The last two weeks he was playing with two fractures on his hand and played through it. It goes to show you his character, that he was not going to miss any playoff hockey despite the injury. He had a great year and will be missed on the blue line next year. I wish him all the best in his future endeavours. I can see Jesse coaching at some level too.”
The defenceman’s final season in Char-Lan saw him chalk up 37 points in 36 regular-season matches, along with a pair of assists in the playoff series against Casselman.
In terms of the team’s strengths this year, coach Fontaine points to tenacity and hard work, describing the Rebels as “a pesky team” that “kept fighting for everything we got.” He adds that the squad featured “a balanced attack with role players” who “never quit as a team no matter what the score was, and the playoff run was proof of that.”
Defensive play, though, was a weak point at certain points through the season, the coach admits. However, “The guys finally understood and realized going into the playoffs that defence was going to win, as it showed only allowing three, two, and one goals against a powerhouse like Casselman.”
Looking ahead, the club will evaluate each player and determine who will be returning in the fall, as individuals balance their various commitments, including school and work.
Coach Fontaine adds, “Recruiting will be key.” The Rebels may hold some summer skating sessions to look at prospects. He does expect a good core of players to be back for 2015-16. “We need to re-load and keep guys who have a team-first mentality, who want to win instead of worrying about ice time and points. If we win then everybody gets two points.”
Players reflect on season, posting on Twitter
Ryan Cooper (@kingcoop30): Head is up after potentially being my last junior hockey game @CharLanRebels #thanks #gorebs
Liam Vipond (@Lviper24): Nothin better than beating Casselman in their barn #gorebs
Jamie Lepine (@jimmerrr): Hockey season always goes by way to quick, miss it already.
RAT IN THE HAT: Metcalfe goaltender Brody Bellefeuille pounces on a loose puck, as peewee Rebels Tysen Roy, left, and Jake Vanderburg skate within striking distance. For more game photos, go online to www.glengarrynews.ca/photos