Do the Cougars Still Have Teeth?

By Brandon Sudeyko

Every now and again, you got to speak up when something doesn’t make sense and lets take a look at the Burlington Cougars because something just doesn’t seem right with that they are doing.

For a few years this franchise has just been on the verge of being called a joke. Since 2012/13, when the league contracted, Burlington was entering their down turn as they finished 8th in the conference and had a 4-0 exit in the first round of the playoffs.

In the next two seasons the Cougars finished a combined, 21-78-2-6 in 107 games.

That is just terrible. But really they are not alone, from 2012-2014 the Hamilton Red Wings finished 23-80-1-4 in 108 games and you can’t forget Orangeville who had a record of 22-80-1-5 in 108 games…. Really there are lots of examples of two extremely bad years for Jr A clubs and then they have this major upswing… it is junior hockey after all… but more on that later, lets just stick with the Cougars.

So here they are after two pitiful years, 4 years without a winning record, siting 4th in the South West Conference with 20 games left to play. And they are making roster moves… but these moves don’t make that much sense.

Burlington had a good offseason with the acquisition of Jordan Peacock and Nathan Gomes from the Caledonia Corvairs of the GOJHL, both won the Sutherland Cup with the Corvairs last season. Anthony Sorrentino, Brady Cranwell and Michael Fallero were other additions over the summer and the Cougars started 6-0 before dropping their next three… then the team started making changes.

Adding Shawn Tessier before trading him only 10 days later. Adding Greg Allen before trading him 44 days later. Acquiring Austin Washkurak and holding on to 3 goaltenders for 24 days and releasing/selling Daniel Volpe to Jr B. Since the Cougars started 5-3-1, the team went 4-7 to the end of October while making 8 transactions.

The team settled down in November picking up 15 of 18 (7-1-1) available points. The team dropped a needed win against Georgetown at the start of December and picked up their next 4 W’s before the Holiday break.

In the mean time the team decides to send Jack Jeffers, their leading scorer to Orangeville for James McLaughlin. Also acquiring Stefano Alonzi from Mississauga and Anthony Baxter and Philip Lagunov from Milton.

So the team is doing good and they are heading back up the standings… so what is the complaint about? What is with these backwards moves?

What do I mean by that? You have so many OA spots for a Jr A roster and you are using two for your goaltenders while splitting their playing time. You trade your leading scorer for another team’s leading scorer. At best a lateral move. You pick up Mississauga’s Captain who really is the equivalent to Daniel Volpe in the sense he will get you those hard points in the dirty areas and acquire Anthony Baxter who is replacing Greg Allen.

Granted that these players personality’s may dictate that they need to be moved out but to bring in the same type of players, who are the exact same makeup, with an unknown disposition to your club is just playing with fire.

Currently sitting third in the division the franchise may be playing with fire with all these moves. With 10 of their last 20 games against opponents with a record under .500 it looks like all this won’t matter. But why go through all the hassle when you had the team in place. If they end up falling down the standings, you know where you can point the finger.

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