It was a big weekend for the Morrisburg Junior B Lions.
Friday night on the Glens’ home turf, the Lions handed the St. Lawrence Division’s first place Glens a crushing 5-3 loss and then, back home on Sunday, they gave the Rideau Division’s first place Westport Rideaus all they could handle as the Rideaus collected a hard fought 6-4 victory.
“It was a gift from God, Friday night,” says Lions coach Thom Racine. “Ryan Cooper (Lions goaltender) had a great game. He really hasn’t played a lot. He made one of those impossible saves a minute into the game and from that point on the boys were behind him. We never trailed all night long.”
After a scoreless first period, the Lions went up 2-0 in the first three minutes of the second period.
Michael Poapst started it with an unassisted goal at 2:52 and at 3:25 Alex Steingruber set up Marc Antoine Kamel to push the Lions ahead by two.
Jean-Francois Dubois answered for the Glens at 11:54, but two minutes later Alex Ploof (from Zach Seguin) restored the Lions two-goal advantage.
Once again, the Lions couldn’t hold on to it, allowing the Glens one more from Philippe Paquette.
At 7:03 of the third period, the Glen’s Leo MacLean beat Cooper to tie the game 3-3.
“I thought when they tied it 3-3 with over 10 minutes to go that we were in trouble,” says Racine.
But a pair of Glens’ penalties turned the tables and allowed the Lions to collect one on their power play from Ryan Ward, assisted by Steingruber and Patrick Bzdyl.
“Then we took two horrible penalties, the first one (at 14:06) for too many men. I thought, ‘right, we just handed them a free opportunity to tie the game.”
The Lions killed off the penalty, but no sooner than they did so, Poapst was nabbed for tripping. Again, the Lions were up for the task, and again they held off the Glens. An empty net counter from Alex Steingruber (assisted by Lance Hodgson) sealed the win.
“Our penalty kills were fantastic,” says Racine. (Marc Antonie) Kamel, (Brayden) Girard and (Ryan) Ward are premier penalty killers. They know when to chase it and when not to chase it.”
Racine also credited Alex Steingruber for bringing his A game to the match and Poapst who scored his seventh goal of the season and who “is just starting to find his touch.”
Their efforts were only out-shone by that of Cooper who faced 59 Glens shots and allowed only three to get past him.
It was the start of a rough weekend for the Glens, who were handed two losses to now trail the first place Winchester Hawks.
For Friday night’s game in Morrisburg, Racine again, went with Cooper in net. “I felt that after the 59 shots, he deserved to play again. And he played really well. ”
The game kicked off with a 1-1 first period tie and by the end of the second the Rideaus held just a slim 4-3 advantage.
They went up 6-3 in the third before the Lions got them stopped with a Michael Poapst (from Brayden Girard and Michael Paquette) counter and that was it. The Rideaus hung on for the 6-4 win.
Michael Poapst scored from Michael Paquette in the first period and Michel Thurler (from Ward and Paquette) and Brayden Girard (from Michael Keenan) counted in the second period.
Racine says he was satisfied with the game, “we made them earn the win” but he wonders if it might have been a different outcome, had if the Lions had the two Veenstras (couldn’t make the game) and Bzdyl (injured) in the lineup.
This weekend the Lions have two must win games says Racine. This Friday night they host the Char-Lan Rebels at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 20 they are on the road against Akwesasne.
The battle continues.