This one is for Joe

This story was published in the Spring 2023 issue of Total Sports Quinte magazine

By Total Sports Quinte

As a goaltender for the undefeated Sault College Cougars that won the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division 2 national championship this past season, one moment in particular stands out for Belleville’s Cassidy Dobson.

It was playing in the ACHA semifinals against Dakota College on March 19 and thinking of longtime supporter Joe Belanger, who had passed away on March 7.

“I was in the final tournament for my season, it’s the national championship, and I was playing a game and the whole time I was thinking ‘I’ve got to do it for Joe,’” Dobson recalled. “It was to continue on from the semifinals and it was do it for Joe or don’t do it at all so I played my hardest for Joe.”

Dobson knew Belanger, an avid photographer, from a young age. She played locally for the Belleville Jr. Bulls, Belleville Bearcats and Wellington Lady Dukes as well as the Kingston Ice Wolves and Oshawa Lady Generals.

Connection with Joe Belanger

“I knew Joe when I was like eight years old and he’s like always photographed me and he’s always been there if I needed him to give me advice or encourage me,” Dobson said, noting Belanger had been a goaltender and offered great tips.

Dobson earned a 3-0 shutout win for Sault College in the ACHA semifinals and also received player of the game honours. It was her second straight shutout during the tournament after blanking the University of Delaware in round-robin action. 

Sault College, from Sault St. Marie, went on to defeat Northeastern University 6-1 in the championship final in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

Tweed’s Emily Moore was also a key contributor for the Cougars and received the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.

Dobson said the undefeated season with Sault College was a unique experience as teams are accustomed to having to adjust and regroup from losses.

“With this season we didn’t really have that so we just treated every game as a do-or-die with our streak,” she said. 

Christine Rutter from Exit Realty Group has sponsored teams Dobson has been on in the past, such as the Lady Dukes, and continued to sponsor her at Sault College. Dobson appreciates that as well as all of her current and past coaches and everyone who has supported her. 

“I think living in a small town and knowing everyone, getting support from everyone really helped a lot because they could encourage me and make me want to play my best because knowing I’m in a small town you’re not going to get seen as easily,” she said.

Just like Belanger used to give her tips all the time, Dobson also has advice for young girls playing hockey.

“I would say to them that to get your dream you have to put in the work and you have to listen to those people that are encouraging you, don’t let your negative thoughts bring you down throughout the season.”

This story is in loving memory of Joe Belanger. Cassidy was his dear student. She, like all of us in the local sports network, adored him and miss him dearly.