Lions skating into a busy pre-season

The Morrisburg Junior B Lions have hit the ice for their 2011/12 tryouts, and coach Thom Racine, back for his second season at the helm, says he like what he sees, although he has lost a couple of key players that will be tough to replace.

“We have a lot of kids at camp, and we have a real good nucleus of players returning,” says Racine.

“Unfortunately, Mitch Lefebvre, our go to guy, is skating with a Triple A Junior team in Quebec and defenceman Patrick Cyr is in the Cumberland camp (Central Junior).”

“We have 12 others who are back, and we are optimistic about some of the young local talent we are seeing.”

The Lions had their first ice time at the Benson Centre in Cornwall on the weekend of August 27-28. Racine said he ran scrimmages during each of the two, two-hour sessions.

This past weekend the Lions embarked on a schedule that will see them play six games in eight days, as Raccine and his coaching staff, which currently includes Cody Casselman and Jarett Racine, ready the team for their opening game on Friday night, September 16 in Kemptville.

All but two of the pre-season exhibition games will be played in Maxville.

Racine does not expect to skate on home ice until Tuesday, September 13 which will be a practise as the Lions prepare for their opening game to be played at the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Showcase event in Kemptville.

“We’ll be playing the Ottawa West Golden Knights,” says Racine with a chuckle adding, “thanks for coming out” as his description of what he expects will be a tough opener against the Knights who are perennial leaders in the Metro Division of the league.

Local skaters (still midget age) at the  Lions opening camp included centreman Marc Beckstead and defenceman Ty Hodgson and Racine is impressed with both.

The two were drafted in May in the Central Hockey League Bantam and Midget-aged Draft (Tier II Junior A).

Beckstead, who played in the Upper Canada Cyclones organization last season, was drafted second overall by the Cumberland Grads and is currently skating at their camp.

Hodgson who played for the St. Lawrence Kings last season was selected in the ninth round of the draft by the Brockville Braves.

While Racine says he is looking at some really talented young players, he is pleased to have goaltender Mikael Dion back. “He’s the kid who carried us into the playoffs last year.”

Racine expects to have his numbers down by the Lions first practise on home ice on the 13th, in order to have a team ready for the opener in Kemptville.

By that time he expects it will be clearer about what is happening with the players who are still skating at Junior A camps.

The Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Fall Classic will run three days, September 16-18, at Kemptville. Local hockey fans can purchase passes for $25 to take in all of the games which will run on both sheets of ice at the Kemptville complex. Tickets are set at $10 per day.

The Lions kick off their season against the Golden nights at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, night September 16 in Rink B. Another three games will be played Friday night and action resumes Saturday morning at 10 a.m. with the Akwesasne Wolves playing the Almonte Thunder. The Lions will play their second game of the weekend Saturday night at 8 p.m. against Stittsville.

This is the only time during the regular season that teams in the North and South Divisions of the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League will meet. The overall EOJHL championship is played between the north and south.

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