Last Wednesday, Dale Adams, representing Ontario Power Generation, stopped in at the Morrisburg Arena to drop off a couple of early Christmas donations to the Morrisburg and District Figure Skating Club and the South Dundas Minor Hockey Association. The two organizations, that are responsible for keeping several hundred South Dundas youngsters busy and active in the winter months, each received $500 from OPG. On hand to accept for the Skating Club was president Julie VanHoof and board member Andy Lee while treasurer Pam Mullin accepted on behalf of minor hockey. The figure skaters will be putting their donation towards their “very important” sound system which this year will get a new microphone and some amplifier upgrades said Lee who expressed his thanks to OPG. Mullin, in thanking OPG on behalf of minor hockey explained the association uses the money to put “kids into hockey who couldn’t afford to play otherwise.”. Pictured above, l-r, are Mullin, Adams, Lee and VanHoof.
It’s early, but Morrisburg Junior Lions coach, Mark Evans says, “we have had a respectable showing and have some good potential.”
The Lions were on Finch ice this past weekend for their main camp which included ice time on both Friday and Sunday nights and a pre-season game against the Char-Lan Rebels, Saturday night. Although the Lions led the Rebels 2-0, the Rebels charged back for a 9-3 win.
Evans says he went with about 95 percent first year players and wasn’t disappointed with what he saw.
“I am very positive with what I have seen so far. We are hovering around eight to nine veterans, and everyone is excited about the season.”
With the mood very “upbeat”, Evans says the Lions will start the season where they left off last year, steadily improving and becoming more competitive in the St. Lawrence Division.
The Lions were to be on the ice two hours last night (Tuesday, September 9) in Finch, and Evans was expecting that Lions General manager Kevin Casselman would be signing some players by the end of this week.
Goaltending he says is looking good. “We had nine goaltenders in camp, and we have narrowed it down to four.”
Evans says John Gilmour is the familiar face from last year, and he is taking a serious look at the other three, some of whom have come to the Lions camp via A clubs.
In addition to talent in goal, Evans says the defensive line up is looking solid with a good mix of experienced veterans and new players.
“I am really happy with what I have seen so far. We have released some who were young that we felt would best benefit from playing midget for another year. We are pretty thick with defense actually. Cole Blanchard and Steven Savage are both back, and we have some defencemen in camp who played as affiliates last year.”
Evans says the defence lineup shows good mix of size and speed and “they all have good puck moving skills”.
Currently in the forward lineup, the coaching staff is looking at different line combinations, “to see what we can come up with, from the returning players and new players.”
“We haven’t signed any overage players yet, but Justin Lefevbre and Dallas Blacksmith are both in camp.”
Evans says the Lions are not in a hurry to fill the four overage cards. “The junior As are still going to manoeuvre, so there are still options, and we won’t fill all of our cards right now.”
Overall Evans says he is happy with the players currently in camp. “We are going to come up with a talented lineup,” certainly, “we are going to start higher than we finished last year. We have a good mix of young kids and veterans.”
Evans also points out there is a good crop of local players from the South Dundas and South Stormont Minor Hockey systems in camp.
The Lions have three exhibition games scheduled to be played in Finch this weekend. Friday night, September 12 they will meet the Akwesasne Wolves at 7 p.m., and on Saturday night they will play the Brockville Tikis. Game time is 5 p.m.
Their fifth pre-season game will be played Sunday night starting at 7 p.m. against Char-Lan.
They are scheduled for their first home-ice practise next Tuesday, September 16 beginning at 8 p.m.
The Lions will open the 2014-15 season on the road to Alexandria, Friday night, September 19 at 8:15 p.m. and will host the Winchester Hawks for their first home game on Saturday night, September 20 at 7:30 p.m.
With the exception of just one or two Friday nights, the Lions will be playing their home games on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons this year.
In mid December, Morrisburg Junior B Lions’ captain Matthew Ouimet, 22, had to put his love for hockey aside,and consider his health and his future.
In a mid-December game, the talented defenceman, an anchor for the local team, took a hit, “not a severe hit and not a dirty hit”, but a hit that resulted in a concussion.
It wasn’t his first, so he knew immediately what was happening.
When he gets a concussion Matthew explains, “I feel very lost right after the hit, and I feel nauseous if it’s bad enough. Sometimes there is memory loss and it’s not clear to me what’s happened.”
Ouimet started playing hockey at the age of four in the Cumberland house league. At the age of 10, he tried out for the Cobras of the Eastern Ontario AA, and then at age 16 he was drafted to the Central Junior Hockey League.
Over the next three years, he played for the Hawkesbury Hawks, Kemptville 73s and the Kanata Knights.
In 2009, he moved to Junior B and played for the Ottawa Junior Canadian and the Alexandria Glens before coming to the Morrisburg Junior B Lions in a trade in the fall of the 2010-2011 season.
Although he missed half of last season due to a concussion, he wanted to return to the Lions for his final year of junior hockey as an overage player.
The decision ended up giving him just over two months of hockey before he called it quits in December.
Ouimet says he can’t rule out having had concussions while he played minor hockey, but “they started getting severe when I started junior hockey. The first few were pretty severe, and they were from some very dirty hits, blind sides and elbows to the jaw.”
As a defenceman, Matthew says many of the hits that resulted in a concussion occurred in the corners, after the opposing team has dumped the puck in.
After his first couple of concussions, it no longer required a a dirty hit, or even a very severe hit. “As time went on it required less force. They weren’t obviously bad hits, the concussions just came on easier.”
In addition to the immediate symptons of the concussion, Matthew says there were times when after a couple of weeks he was still getting severe headaches and was having trouble concentrating at school.
He admits that when he was hit this past December, he was already at the point where, “I was questioning if I should be risking my whole life.”
Matthew is currently a volunteer with the Clarence Rockland Fire Department, where he is gaining experience to become a full-time firefighter.
“There is a point where you have to look at your future. It was very hard for me to have to stop playing hockey.”
And he admits, “I have enjoyed my time here with the Lions, more than any other team I’ve been with. The coaching staff here is amazing. I absolutely love this team.”
Matthew came to the Lions at time when he was losing his enthusiasm for the game.
“Matt Ouimet is the example of commitment and playing for the love of the game,” says Lions coach Thom Racine. “He played high level hockey all his life and when we got his rights, he was contemplating quitting hockey…too many chances and too many broken promises had clouded his desire to play.”
“I picked him as our captain this year for two reasons: he wanted to play again this year hoping we could string out the late season success of last year; and as a last year player, he wanted to be the team leader, which I knew he could be. The younger kids look up to Matt, and that is important especially when the middle of the pack respects him.”
“I’ve had many tough decisions over my three seasons, but letting Matt go from our roster at the deadline was very tough. But his health was far more important than a dozen hockey games.”
Matthew says he wants to make young players and their parents aware of the symptoms of a concussion. “They could be denying it after they get hit, or just aren’t aware of what is going on.”
He says that when he was a younger player it wasn’t a big deal and hockey teams didn’t talk about it.
But now, with it getting more attention, he wanted to share his experiences and his symptoms.
Since he hung up his skates in December, Matt continues to show his strong character. He attends as many of the Lions games as he can to support his teammates.
Now feeling good and playing a bit of recreational hockey with friends, he says, “I’ll never have hockey out of my life. For sure, I’ll continue to play recreational hockey in my future.”
The South Dundas Novice B Lions opened their 2014/15 season on the road and on a winning note.
On Wednesday night, October 8, the Lions travelled to Kemptville where they collected a close 4-3 win from the Kemptville B2 Panthers.
The Lions Nick Connors was on top of his game and ready to roar for the Lions as he connected for all four of their goals.
The Panthers were first on the scoreboard with a goal from Cameron McNulty with 5:49 left in the first period. Their advantage lasted just 16 seconds when Connors answered with help from Mason Hummel.
The 1-1 tie held until late in the second period when Connors struck for goals two and three, both assisted by Ben Radley.
The Panthers got one back before the end of the second period from Nate Thompson to narrow the gap to 3-2.
Midway into the third period Graeme Laverance scored, unassisted, for the Panthers to again tie the game, now at 3-3.
With the minutes ticking away, Connors, with help from Drew Laperle and Radley scored his fourth goal to put the Lions up 4-3, and that’s the way it stayed.
Hutt was unbeatable in the net for the remaining 3:49 minutes, and the Lions collected their first win of the new season.
In this year’s Novice B Lions lineup, along with goaltender Hutt, Connors, Hummel, Radley and Laperle are Cooper McCooeye, Addyson Lalonde-Thompson, Logan Tait, Terrence Mudde, Luke Byvelds, Noelle Hatherall, Caleb Machan, Travis Faulkner and Devon Honders.
Matt McCooeye is the coach and the assistant coaches are Shawn Hummel and Dan Byvelds. Also on the coaching staff are Mike Hutt, John Connors and Shellie Spencer.
In exhibition action in Long Sault, the Lions and the Selects played to a 1-1 tie. Both goals were scored in the second period.
Mason Hummel counted for the Lions with help from Cooper McCooeye and John McLeod provided the Selects goal.