When the Paugan Falls Rapids dropped the puck on their inaugural season, they had but one main goal: make the playoffs in their first year in the Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League.
With just three games left – and two points ahead of the Cornwall Prowlers for the final playoff spot in the East division – the Rapids are in control of their own destiny.
“We have put ourselves in a good spot and we’re confident that we can make the playoffs,” said Rapids captain Ryan Peck. “It’s a tough league to come into, but we’ve been working towards this all year. And, you know, we [would] just be thrilled to, especially in our first year, host a home playoff game.”
Heading into last weekend didn’t look great for the Rapids’ chances. They were in last place in the East division and were chasing both the Glengarry Pipers and the Prowlers for that last spot. Two back-to-back wins over the Pipers this weekend changed their fortune, as those four points enabled the Rapids to leapfrog over both teams in the standings to take sole possession of the sixth and final playoff spot.
Peck is the first to admit that it’s been a tough season as the newest team in a rough and tough senior men’s hockey league. The Rapids have an 5-11-2 record, but have really turned a corner over the last few weeks, as the team found a rhythm.
Peck credits that to having a full squad of healthy players. He said this past weekend was the first time the Rapids had all of their forwards and a full lineup of six defencemen. The Rapids have been playing shorthanded most of the season, either due to injury or guys who can’t make a game because they are away at work. But everyone showed up this past weekend and it gave the Rapids the best chance at a postseason berth. They’re not guaranteed to get into the playoffs, but Peck said if his Rapids beat the Pipers at home on Feb. 3 they’ll be in.
“We play the [North Dundas] Rockets next week, so that's going to be a tough game,” said Peck. “But then we’re back on home ice for the last two games, and I might add that one of them is against Glengarry. So if we actually beat them, it’ll guarantee us a playoff spot.”
Peck said he’s especially excited about the Feb. 3 game, not only the prospect of earning a playoff berth, but also because the Rapids are hosting a special heritage game to honour the old, now defunct Central Gatineau Hockey League (CGHL), which is said to have been the last remaining outdoor hockey league in Canada. The league folded in the 90s after the Low arena was built.
The Rapids are calling out to old hockey fans who may have memorabilia from that old CGHL league – old photos, jerseys, pucks, sticks – for a display they will have in the rink’s front room during the Feb. 3 heritage game.
“We’re trying to find old memorabilia from the league, whether it's antiques like jerseys or photos,” said Peck.
The Feb. 3 game is at 7 p.m. For more information or to submit memorabilia, visit the Rapids online on Facebook.