Cougars roar to nationals

Randy Russon
February 22, 2019

Sault College Cougars have earned a spot at next month’s Division 3, American Collegiate Hockey Association national men’s championship tournament.

Sault College will head to the ACHA nationals as the no. 1 ranked team in the 20-member North Division. The national tournament is slated for March 26-30 in Dallas, Texas.

It is quite the feat for Sault College, which is in its first season as full-fledged members of the ACHA. Not only that, as the only Canadian school, Sault College had to play 22 of its 26 games during the 2018-2019 regular season away from home.

In all, the Cougars posted a 23-2-1 record over the course of the 2018-2019 season including a 19-2-1 mark in road games. Through its 26 games, Sault College out-scored its opponents by a resounding 227 to 79 margin.

So successful in such a short period of time has the men’s hockey program at Sault College been that the ACHA has granted it a move up to the Division 2 level from Division 3 effective the 2019-2020 season.

Cougars head coach Mike Hall did not attempt to contain his excitement at Sault College earning the No. 1 ranking in the North Division in a determination that was made by the ACHA.

“We are extremely excited for the men and for the school,” Hall told Hockey News North. “To be able to do this in our first full season as members of the ACHA speaks volumes about our players and our program. It has been a lot of hard work that has been put in by the men over the course of the season.”

Hall also paid tribute to the Sault College men’s hockey support staff.

“Hats off as well for the great recruiting job done by our manager of hockey Mark Hebert and by Charly Murray and his scouting staff,” said Hall, who prior to going to Sault College was a multiple championship coach of many years with the then-called Soo North Stars of the Great North Midget Hockey League.

In all, there will be 20 teams from the ACHA competing for national championship honours in Dallas — four schools from each of the North Division, South Division, Atlantic Division and Pacific Division.

Meanwhile, Sault College forward Austin Rowe said he and his teammates are “really looking forward” to competing at the ACHA national tournament.

“It is awesome for us as a new program,” Rowe told Hockey News North. “It has been a great season so far. We have good players and we have good strategies from Coach Hall.”

Rowe, formerly of the Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League and one of several Sault Ste. Marie area products on the Cougars, finished fifth in team scoring during the 2018-2019 regular season with 26 goals, 21 assists, 47 points.

Ahead of Rowe, from first to fourth on the Sault College scoring chart, are Ryan Vendramin with amazing totals of 55 goals, 41 assists, 96 points followed by Max Khull with 15-54-69 numbers, Mark Tassone with 14-37-51 statistics and defenseman Andrew Barbeau with 22-27-49 figures.

Khull, with the Blind River Beavers and Tassone, with the Soo Thunderbirds, also skated in the NOJHL with Rowe last season.

Between the pipes, goalie Drew Gregory posted a record of 15-1-0 to go with a 2.23 goals against average and .913 save percentage.

PHOTO: Head coach Mike Hall, back of the Sault College Cougars bench during 2018-2019 action. (Photo by Allana Plaunt.)

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