Grant Cooper named new head coach of junior B Char-Lan Rebels
EOJHL club finished shy of playoff qualification last season
The Char-Lan Rebels junior ‘B’ hockey team, which skated in the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League, will have a new head coach for the 2023-23 season, as Grant Cooper has been tagged to take the reins.
The former captain of the CCHL Cornwall Colts recently capped his professional hockey career as a player in the United Kingdom’s Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL), winning with the Belfast Giants. During the regular season, the Cornwall native played 19 games, chalking up 13 points and 38 penalty minutes with a +12 rating. Cooper saw action in two playoff games, including the championship tilt, where he had two shots on goal in his team’s 4-1 victory over the Cardiff Devils.
His CCHL career, all with the Colts, stretched over five seasons, as Cooper, a forward, played in 182 regular-season games to go along with 32 playoff tilts. He went on to an American collegiate career with Clarkson University of the NCAA (77 games player, 31 points). His first professional season came in the 2021-22 season as a member of the ECHL Reading Royals (62 games played, 22 points).
For the 2022-23 season, Cooper moved to England, suiting up in Britain’s second-tier pro league, the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) as a member of the Leeds Knights. His season was completed with a trifecta of titles in the EIHL with Belfast. In addition to the aforementioned playoff title, he and his team topped the league during the regular season and won the EIHL Cup competition.
Jeff Carter will remain with the Rebels, continuing in his capacity as the team’s general manager as he hands off the head coaching duties to Cooper.
On the announcement of their new head coach, the team noted, Grant Cooper has “been a captain on past teams and is excited to bring his leadership to the Rebels! #GoRebsGo #letsgetthisthingstarted #EOJHL
2023-23 Season in Review
The Rebels completed last year’s 42-game regular season with a record of 14 wins, 22 regulation losses, and 6 overtime/shootout defeats for seventh position in the Martin Division. The team was 7 points shy of a playoff spot.
Carter served as head coach and general manager. His assistant coaches were Mike Branchaud and Alexim Veilleux.
Char-Lan’s points leader (with 41 in 38 games) was Tyler Branchaud, who hails from Metcalfe. Maxime Mayer, from L’Orignal, carried the load in net, suiting up for 34 games and recording a 3.39 goals against average.
Team awards were presented following the conclusion of the season. Trent Poitras was recognized as both the Dalton Amell Defenceman of The Year and the Robert Curran Memorial team MVP.
Sharing the Jim Hill Memorial Award, which honours the top Char-Lan minor hockey graduate who best combines team spirit, dedication, and positive attitude as a member of the junior 'B' Rebels, went to Avery MacCuaig and Declan Mcdonald.
Branchaud won the Kenneth MacDonald Award for overall proficiency, and the Rebels Rookie of the Year award went to goaltender Mayer.
For 2023, Char-Lan renamed its award for the Most Effective & Dedicated Player in honour of the Rebels’ former captain, the late Hunter MacPherson. The award was presented to Jeremy Chenier, who “emerged as a quiet leader” of the club in his second full season.
The Marc Beaudet Memorial Award recognizing the best defensive forward was presented to Nolan Macmillan.
Dual winners of the Sandilands Trophy for sportsmanship and playing ability were forward Devon St-Jean and defenceman Josh Esford.
Graham Robertson was presented the Earle Sandilands Award which recognizes team spirit throughout the season. A Rebel since 2019, Robertson “always had a positive attitude. He matured into a very reliable, defensive, physical forward on the team.”
We wish Graham well in the future and expect him to be back to play as an alumni!
The March 25 awards banquet also paid tribute to many key volunteers with the club:
Eileen MacCuaig - toughest video person (It’s cold up there!) with honourable mention to Sydney St-Jean.
Liam Maclachlan and Gill Macdonald - most reliable admissions agents, honourable mention to Addy Esford
Susan Snape - the best DJ
Normand Giroux - the best bartender
Julie St-Jean - the best video and highlight person … and biggest fan
Nancy Pearce Branchaud - best photographer and social media material supplier
Phil Belanger - best timekeeper and in-game announcer (with help from Kaydee-Cat Belanger)
Ryan Dewar - off-ice rookie of the year (trainer)
Alexim Veilleux - quickest transition from player to respected coach
Mike Branchaud - the wiliest veteran coach, with the most level head
The Fans! - everyone who supported the team at the games, the Hunter MacPherson fundraiser, the alumni night, and minor hockey nights
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May Camp Scheduled
The Rebels have scheduled a pre-season camp this month for 2003-2007 birth year players. It will be held at Cornwall’s Benson Centre, and participation fees are $75 for returnees and $100 for new prospects.
Booked dates are May 23 (8 to 10 p.m.) and 25 (7 to 9 p.m.)