The Cobourg Cougars: A History
The Cobourg Cougars were created by manager Dick Robinson in 1964 and played their first season in 1965 as a member of the Eastern Ontario Junior 'B' Hockey League. Since then the Cougars have proved themselves to be a resilient team and have carved out a formidable history within Ontario hockey lore. After playing in the Junior 'B' division for six seasons, the team began to experience difficulties. Important members of the organization left and the Cougars began to experience financial problems. In the interest of the survival of the Cougars, management decided to try their luck in the Central Ontario Junior 'C' Hockey League.
The Cougars performed extremely well in Junior 'C' from 1971 to 1979. Their success can be attributed, mostly to the expertise of head coach Vern MacGregor, who was the most successful coach in the team's history. In 1974, the Cougars took home a provincial championship. They were the first Cobourg team in the Ontario Hockey Association to win a provincial championship. Unfortunately, the Cobourg Cougars' 'golden age' was followed by a decade of minimal successes. Just as the Cougars' success in the '70s can be attributed to MacGregor's presence, their losses can be attributed to his absence. The Cougars performed poorly throughout the '80s, even missing the playoffs for the only time in the history of the club so far.
Once again, the Cougars demonstrated their resiliency. Confronted with an unsuccessful decade of Junior 'C' hockey, they made the decision to apply to enter the Ontario Provincial Junior 'A' (tier II) Hockey League. The move happened in 1992, mostly due to president Rod Baker's leadership skills. Over the next couple years, the team began to build momentum and gain their footing with some success. During the playoffs in '94, morale was weakened by the death of Cougar defenseman B.J. Monro, the victim of a car accident at only 16 years of age. The '90s were characterized by rising success for the Cougars, however, as players Shawn Allard and Oto Hlincik joined the team. CobourgCougars hosted the Central Canadian (Tier II) Junior 'A' championships in '96, in which the Cougars finished second. The team was also second-place in the league in 2002 and 2012, but they have yet to scrape a championship as a Junior 'A' team. Over the years the club has been an important stepping stone for players who have gone on to play in the Ontario Hockey League or for universities.
In later years, the Cobourg Cougars cleverly absorbed the Bowmanville Eagles and the Streetsville Derbys, in 2010 and 2011, respectively, in order to eliminate competition for both players and fans. In this way, the Cougars are a hockey club that has successfully reinvented themselves over and over again, based on their perception of their current climate. They have managed to thrive as an organization and remain a force within the community, through the acquisition of a variety of local sponsors and effective management. Who knows what next season will bring in terms of wins/losses, but we can be sure that the Cobourg Cougars are here to stay and that they will never fail to make their fans proud! Go Cougars!