Junior B Lions fall short in must-win weekend

The Morrisburg Junior B Lions got off to a bad start in their weekend St. Lawrence Division action Friday night against the CharLan Rebels, and then, just barely managed to cross the finish line ahead of the Akwesasne Wolves on Sunday.

Friday night the Lions lost 7-3 to the Rebels in front of their hometown fans. Sunday they eked out a 5-4 win against the Wolves after giving up a 5-0 lead held early in the second period.

“Friday night was our biggest game of the year, and we just didn’t respond,” said coach Thom Racine. “CharLan has had their team together since the start of the year and the fact that they are all on the ice to practice makes a big difference. They were able to show us what hard work is. That combined with our inability to convert a goal was the difference.”

Friday night in Morrisburg, the Rebels went up 2-0 in the first period. The Lions charged back to win the second period 3-2, but that would be it.

The Rebels beat Lions’ goaltender Mikael Dion for another three in the third for the 7-3 win.

Patrick Bzdyl, with help from Michael Poapst and Brayden Girard, put the Lions on the scoreboard at 1:21 of the second.

That was followed by a pair of Rebel tallies that gave them a 4-1 edge. The Lions charged back for another two to end the second period down 4-3.

Lance Hodgson got it started at 15:57 with Taylor Wilson and Marc Antoine Kamel providing the assists. Then it was over to Alex Steingruber at 17:35 for what would end up being the Lions final counter.

Ryan Ward and Clarke Veenstra provided the set up on the Steingruber marker.

The Rebels counted one power play marker in four opportunities while the Lions were zero for three.

Sunday, the Lions were on Cornwall Island where they quickly took command of the game against the Akwesasne Wolves. 

They went up 4-0 in the first period on goals by Kamel (from Brayden Girard), Michael Poapst (short-handed from Kamel), Steingruber (from Ward and Paquette) and Clarke Veenstra, (unassisted).

Their power play, just over a minute into the second period pushed them to a 5-0 advantage with Matt Ouimet finding the net and Kamel and Bzdyl providing the help.

“We needed a win to keep pace with the Rebels,” said Racine. “The first period was good. We had a 4-0 lead in the first period, but we got in there and got fat.”

“After 20 minutes of play, the dressing room was light. You figure you got the game won.”

“But you have to respect the other team. Ryan (Winter) is one of those coaches with a never say ‘die’ attitude. They just weren’t going to quit.”

And indeed they didn’t as they got it started with 1:58 left on the second period clock with a goal from Matthew Bouroassa.

Then in the third period the Wolves took charge for three goals, the first on their power play from Pat Gendron, the second from Keith Sloan with 6:34 left and the fourth, which had them nipping at the Lions’ heels, from Ryan Leckie with 1:58 left on the game clock.

“A credit to the kids though, in the last  minute, the Wolves had their goalie out and they were never in our zone.”

That allowed the Lions to hold on for the 5-4 win, their  sixth of the season which, combined with the loss Friday night leaves them tied with the Rebels for the St. Lawrence Division’s fourth spot.

Coming up this Friday night, November 25, the Lions travel to Winchester to take on the first place Hawks at 8:15 p.m. Sunday they are on the road to Cardinal for a 2:30 p.m. match against the Rideau Division’s fourth place South Grenville Rangers.

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