The Cougars 2018-19 Season is in the books, with a division title, trip to Nationals, and many individual highlights it was definitely a season to remember!
44 Regular Season Games, 5 Playoff Games, 7 college exhibition games and multiple college tours including participation at the MIAC NCAA Division 3 Showcase were some of the many highlights over the past 7 months for this group of men.
The Cougars season didn't necessarily get off to the hottest of starts in recent memory, carrying a record just above .500 through the first month of the season was something the team knew they would have to endure with only 4 returning players from the year before and a litany of rookies this year. In fact, the Cougars were the 5th youngest team of 51 teams across the USPHL Premier League this season and with only 4 returning players from the year before they started off needing a lot of teaching and attention to what Junior hockey really is.
Along the way the Cougars added key pieces to help them gain ground on opponents and position themselves for a playoff run. Among those were Jozef Martancik, Kevin Crawley, and Bryan Pan. Martancik joined the Cougars from the NCDC NH Monarchs and put up 2 Points/Game for the Cougars, the most all time in 10 or more Games Played. Crawley joined the Cougars from the OCN Blizzard (MJHL) in November and provided an immediate spark for the club offensively as a playmaking Forward who plays bigger than his 5'7 frame. Finally, Defenseman Bryan Pan joined as a puck moving defender and was able to play a solid 2-way game from the Blueline for the Cougars and was a nice asset to have on the PowerPlay.
This year's Cougars skated to a 28-14-2 record winning the Midwest-East Division for the 2nd year in a row establishing their dominance in January going 9-1 at one point to recapture their spot atop the standings from Motor City Hockey Club and hitting their stride when it mattered most including a 2-2 January showcase in Boston against teams from the East.
The Cougars swept the Decatur Blaze at home for the second straight season to win their playoff series and head to Boston for the USPHL National Championship tournament. It was a great weekend of hockey with contributions from all 4 lines in the 2 games to advance!
For the second year in a row the Cougars participated in the USPHL National tournament in Boston, MA. The Cougars were the #9 seed in the 16 team field beating the CT Nighthawks, but losing to the Metro Jets and Florida Jr. Blades on their way to a 3rd place finish in their group during the round robin portion of the tournament and ending their season.
Breydon Hemminger was again a team captain and added 59 Points to his career total of 90 Points making him the 2nd All-Time leading scorer in Cougars history, 6th All-Time in Points/Game. Hemminger has been courted by multiple colleges and Tier 2 programs, he is looking to stick somewhere this Summer.
Cougars Defenseman John Vandervalk had 21 Goals and 21 Assists, a phenomenal offensive season for Vandervalk who led all Tier 3 Defensemen in the United States in Goals. His 21 Goals and 42 Points were the most All-Time by a Cougars Defenseman and most All-Time in a season for any Cougars Defenseman! Garnering a lot of NCAA and ACHA college attention, he will be joining the work force this Summer.
Ian McCollum's 27 Goals ties for 3rd All-Time in a season for any Cougars player and also tied for 3rd for any Cougar in their first season.
Young 2001 born sensation R.J. Jones finished the season with 20 Goals, 14 Assists and 34 Points in 42 Games Played. These numbers were among the top 5 in the nation all season for 2001 birth year players and has been invited to multiple Tier 2 Main Camps this Summer. Keep an eye on our advancement list for Jones to be the next Cougars player jumping into Tier 2.
Tim Laskowski was the team's "most improved player" at the end of the season and came a long way as a rookie to provide some spark for the Cougars down the stretch and in some very important games.
Thank You Fans!
As always, we are so grateful for our fans and those who support our program every home game. We are grateful for your support and look forward to another great season next Fall!