Sports

Hodgins glad to see Cougars compete in RBC Cup

By JEFF GARD, Northumberland Today

Former Cobourg Cougars head coach Curtis Hodgins, now with the UOIT Ridgebacks, was on hand to watch some RBC Cup action at the Cobourg Community Centre.
JEFF GARD/Northumberland Today

Former Cobourg Cougars head coach Curtis Hodgins, now with the UOIT Ridgebacks, was on hand to watch some RBC Cup action at the Cobourg Community Centre. JEFF GARD/Northumberland Today

COBOURG - 

Curtis Hodgins was still head coach of the Cobourg Cougars when it was announced the town would host the 2017 RBC Cup national junior A hockey championship.

However, instead of being behind the bench this week, Hodgins has watched from the stands.

“It’s a little bittersweet on my end,” Hodgins said. “I spent a lifetime in junior hockey trying to chase an RBC Cup and I was 18 months away from being able to be a part of one.”

Hodgins, though, left the Cougars early last season when an opportunity came along that was too good to pass up. He’s now the head coach of the UOIT Ridgebacks in Oshawa, which gives him a full-time coaching job in Ontario university hockey.

“It’s just a tremendous coaching job,” Hodgins said. “I work in a dynamic environment with UOIT being a newer school. The (school) is very invested in athletics and the hockey program.”

Hodgins said it’s a new challenge for his coaching career.

“I’ve done junior hockey for so long and I’m working with some older players now and a short schedule – a 28-game schedule is unique,” he remarked. “It’s a real good league – it’s a secret in this country. For the people who have never watched a game, it’s really high calibre.

“The opportunity to be a student-athlete is a real unique experience for these guys,” Hodgins added. “They need their academics to move on in life whatever they’re going to do down the road.”

Hodgins will be adding a couple of Cougars to his Ridgebacks lineup next season as captain Josh Maguire and defenceman Jesse Baird have committed to the UOIT program.

“Josh is really going to add a lot up front. He’s my type of player, does all the little things well and he’s got a sneaky offensive side to him that’s been able to come out a bit this season with the Cougars and the work the staff has done with them,” Hodgins said. “He’s going to be a great addition to our program.”

Baird, meanwhile, is “a coveted right-hand shot that I’ve been searching for,” Hodgins said. “I think the sky is the limit on his potential. Great skater, he’s got some good offensive skills, is physical and I really look forward to seeing what he can become in the next few years.”

In Cobourg, Hodgins was hoping to see larger crowds for the Cougars games, but said it’s great they are hosting the national event and competing well in it.

“The Cougars look like they’re getting better every night,” he said. “In a short tournament like this, anything can happen.”

Hodgins is thrilled to see the Cougars host the event and is especially happy for the volunteers.

“This is a special organization. I loved every minute of my three-and-a-half years here,” he said. “The people that work for the Cougars is what makes this organization special. It looks like every one of them is around the rink volunteering this week like they do on a regular Monday night. It’s a great reward for them. To see them host the national championship is special and I’m really happy for them.”