The Morrisburg Junior B Lions are hanging tough with the big guys, but they continue to be plagued by a player shortage.
Saturday night, the Lions were on the road to Westport to take on the Rideau Division’s first place Rideaus and, after holding a 4-2 lead late in the second period, they ended up on the wrong side of a 6-4 count.
Although he expected to ice a full team Saturday night, such was not the case for a very discouraged coach Thom Racine.
“Lance Hodgson was hurt Friday night and couldn’t play, and we had a couple more who had exams on Tuesday, so they couldn’t play…which I don’t get.”
“For two periods we were in control of the game. We had a good talk after the second period, and then we started the third period and couldn’t get the puck out of our own end.”
To make matters worse, Racine says the Lions got on the wrong side of the referee when they complained about a missed call.
“One of our kids was cross checked from behind and when he retaliated he drew a penalty. We argued and got a bench minor.”
From then on Racine says, “I guess he decided we were acting like idiots.”
In the third period, the Lions drew five minor penalties, a four minute spearing penalty, two game misconducts and a game ejection. The Rideaus drew two minors.
In addition, Racine learned the next day that two Lions were suspended (and will miss this Friday night’s game) for infractions during the game warm-up, one for a missing chin strap and the other a neck guard infraction.
Fortunately, the weekend wasn’t all bad news for the Lions.
Friday night on home ice, they posted a must-win 7-2 victory against the Akwesasne Wolves.
The Lions went up 1-0 late in the first period on a Michel Lefebvre goal from Sylvester Bzdyl.
But then in the second period, the Wolves came charging back with a pair and suddenly it was a whole new ball game.
“I called a time out when they went up 2-1.”
Racine says the Lions knew how important the game was for the Wolves, and they knew they were going to come out with every they had.
Following the talk, the Lions got their act together and finally Chris Rutley (from Zach Seguin and Ryan Dunbar) tied it with what Racine described as a “fluky goal.”
The icing on the cake came from Ryan Ward with the Lions short-handed in the last minute of the frame.
“On a two on one, Chris Rutley laid a beauty of a pass on Wardo’s (Ryan Ward) stick and he deflected it into the net.”
That put the Lions up 3-2 with two seconds left in the second period and clearly changed the Wolves’ momentum.
“They just didn’t respond in the third period.”
The Lions held the one goal advantage until the final 10 minutes of the third when they counted another four goals for the 7-2 win.
The goals were scored by Marc Antoine Kamel from Brayden Girard, Alex Steingruber from Sylvester Bzdyl, Clarke Veenstra from Chris Rutley and Michael Paquette and Bzdyl from Steingruber and Michael Keenan.
The Lions sat out six minor penalties and were assessed a 10 minute misconduct. The Wolves drew four minor penalties.
Saturday night in Westport, the game was tied 1-1 after one period with Ryan Ward (from Lefebvre and Sam Hodgson) providing the Lions’ first goal.
The Rideaus went up 2-1, just 40 seconds into the second period but 12 seconds later Bzdyl (from Ward and Lefebvre) answered to keep it even.
Then a pair of power-play goals allowed the Lions to go ahead, 4-2.
Lefebvre started it (from Ward and Bzdyl) and Bzdyl made it 4-2 with the assist going to goaltender Mikael Dion.
The Rideaus cut the Lions advantage to one in the last minute of the second period.
Then just over a minute into the third, Dustin Sinclair scored while the Rideaus were shorthanded to tie the game 4-4
They collected the winning goal at 4:21, and the insurance market at 15:44. Both goals were scored on the Rideaus power play.
Mikael Dion was in net for both of the Lions weekend games. According to the stats he faced 57 Rideaus shots, while the Lions managed just 26 against opposing goaltender James Davis.
“Mikael played really well. He just didn’t get any support in the end,” said Racine.
The split in their weekend games prevented the Lions from making any headway against the fourth-place CharLan Rebels.
The Rebels also split their games, losing to Casselman, 15-4 and defeating Gananoque, 4-3.
Coming up this Friday night, December 23, the Gananoque Islanders are in town for an 8:30 p.m. game.
The Lions are scheduled to play a make up game in Prescott on Tuesday night, December 27.
Their next home game is not until Friday, January 6 against the Char-Lan Rebels.
On Saturday, January 7 they will open the 2012 Rideau-St. Lawrence Showcase Event with a 9:30 a.m. game against South Grenville. The Winchester Hawks are hosting this year’s showcase.