By Jonathan Mulvihill
The Renfrew Mercury
Heading into the playoffs, the Renfrew Wolves Junior A team continues to make the 2021-22 hockey season a memorable one.
Head coach and general manager Ryan Leonard says the season so far is great for a team playing their first full season as part of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL).
“They’re doing extremely well. I couldn’t be prouder,” he said. “So far we’ve won 34 games, and we’re still not finished. There are some teams that have been in the league for years that don’t have that many wins.”
Leonard adds the continuing easing of COVID-19 restrictions brings more fans to the home games, further increasing the team’s morale.
“Prior to the lifting of restrictions, we were averaging about 275 people at our home games,” he said. “Right now that number is under 400. I expect that number will continue to grow as more people are becoming more comfortable with the easing guidelines.”
Leonard says the team will continue the current momentum heading into the playoffs.
At the time of publication, the Wolves are second in the Robinson Division and fourth overall in the CCHL.
In addition to the numerous successes the team has chalked up, several players have been recognized for achievements. One of the more recent highlights is 21-year-old Mathieu Parent, a Kapuskasing, Ont. native who was named one of the CCHL’s top three players in March with 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) during that time.
“He’s a very consistent player,” Leonard said. “He works hard on and off the ice, and I see it all coming together with him this season.”
Another player, 19-year-old Ennismore, Ont. native Will Craig, was named goaltender of the month for March by the hockey league, with 451 saves that month.
“He’s had one heck of a season so far,” Leonard said. “In my eyes, he’s one of the best goalies in the CCHL.”
When not on the ice playing season games, the Junior A team is out creating partnerships with organizations and fans alike.
“We try to do something once a week to get the players into the community,” Leonard said. “We have four-on-four games with younger teams for fun. We also have kids with special needs come to the players’ dressing room and spend time with them. It’s all about refining the whole image of the local Junior A hockey scene.”
Other community events and initiatives the team has partaken in include a driver safety campaign with the Renfrew OPP and the stationary Santa Clause parade event in December.
Leonard says 19 of the players are in billet homes, with another three on the way.
“It’s great that we’re seeing support from all over town and surrounding areas,” he said. “We’ve got a great team on the ice and great staff supporting them.”
The Wolves will play games one and three of the playoffs in Renfrew on April 12 and 15 at 7:30 p.m.
The Renfrew Wolves will host a training camp from April 29 to May 1 to fill roster spots for the 2022-23 CCHL season. For more information or to register, visit renfrewwolves.com.