“Our confidence level is nonexistent,” said Morrisburg Junior B Lions coach Thom Racine following a pair of weekend losses to the Akwesasne Wolves, Friday night on home ice, 4-3 and to the Char-Lan Rebels in Williamstown, on Saturday, 5-2.
Coach Racine and his Lions were looking for wins on the weekend as they met their two fellow teams in the bottom of the St. Lawrence Division. The Wolves, on Friday night, were in the hunt for their first win of the season, while the Rebels were looking for just their second taste of victory.
They both got their wishes, the Lions didn’t. As a result, the Lions now share fourth spot with the Rebels at four points apiece while the Wolves are just one point back, thanks to an earlier tie, at three.
“Friday night it could have went either way,” said Racine. “We played well enough to win. You can make all the excuses you want but you still have to win hockey games.”
“We just have to keep working hard. It’s just the mental mistakes that are costing us.”
As Racine predicted a few weeks ago, the St. Lawrence has become a two tier division. “We have three power houses (Vikings, Glens and Hawks) and the three of us (Lions, Rebels and Wolves) are playing for the fourth spot.”
Racine says he is trying to impress upon his Lions, “don’t quit, keep going. Look what happened last year. We were dead in the water until the middle of the January.”
This time around, Racine is working on a much sooner, than later, turnaround.
This past weekend, the Lions played starter goaltender Mikael Dion on Friday night and Ryan Cooper, Saturday night.
“They both played pretty. We just don’t give them the support they need.”
Friday night in Morrisburg the fans were treated to a scoreless first period and a scoreless third. Seven goals were counted in the second.
The Wolves went up early in the second with a pair of power-play goals from Justin Villeneuve and Matthew Morin.
At 6:50 of the frame the Lions got one back, on their power play, from Sylvester Bzdyl assisted by Matt Ouimet.
A little over a minute later, Jayden Lemire struck to again boost the Wolves to a two-goal advantage.
At 9:22, Alex Steingruber (from Ryan Ward and Clarke Veenstra) on the power play, put the Lions back into the game, cutting the gap to 3-2.
That held until just under 14:07, when Clarke Veenstra set up Sylvester Bzdyl for a short-handed goal that evened the field at 3-3.
Again the Lions couldn’t hold on and 25 seconds later Byron Dewett counted to put the Wolves ahead 4-3.
The Wolves and goaltender Quade Smoke then settled in to hold on for their first win of the season.
Saturday night in Williamstown, the Lions simply put, couldn’t put the puck in the net.
The Rebels went up 2-0 in the first period, their first goal just 58 seconds in, and their second with just 2:24 left in the frame.
Michael Paquette scored unassisted for the Lions at 1:08 of the second period, but that was it and the Rebels beat Cooper for another two, to end the period in the lead, 4-1.
Michael Poapst counted the Lions final goal (from Steingruber and Bzdyl) at 1:38 of the third, and at 2:49 the Rebels got it back from Kevin Veilleux.
“I’m not frustrated, but I am disappointed,” said Racine. “There was so much optimism at the start of the year. We had four lines with depth, but it’s just not happening for them.”
Tonight, (Wednesday, October 19) the Lions are in Brockville to take on the Tikis, where Racine says they will have their work cut out for them.
With a number of the regulars not able to attend due to school exams, he will be icing several local midget players. But he says you never know. The Lions were in the same situation at this time last year and went to Brockville for a win.
This Friday night, the Lions host the Athens Aeros at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday, they are on the road for a rematch against Akwesasne at 7:15 p.m.