The Morrisburg Junior B Lions found out on Sunday, what other teams have known for some time…just how tough it is to score on goaltender Mikael Dion.
Dion, who has guarded the Lions crease for three years, found himself facing some familiar faces Sunday, as he performed his magic in the familiar Morrisburg arena, but this time in the Hawks net.
The recent release of Dion, who was signed to a Lions overage player card, to the Hawks was “due to our position in the standings,” explained team manager, Kevin Casselman. “We made the decision to provide Mikael an opportunity to play in the playoffs in his final season of junior hockey.”
“Mikael will provide Winchester with a solid goaltender for what they hope is a deep play-off run.”
In addition, Casselman says the move has allowed the Lions to give more ice time to their young up and coming goalie Ryan Cooper.
“We have been happy to have local Major AAA Midget John Gilmer play in three games,” says Casselman. “Joey Lamarche and Zach Frawley will provide us with support over the next nine games.”
Sunday, the Lions held their own against the visiting Hawks…all the way to the final 13 minutes of the third period.
It started at 12:39 of the third. It was just seconds after the Lions had killed off a penalty, when the Hawks Cody Levasseur broke it wide open. It was then that Levasseur counted his first of two goals that broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Hawks the edge.
Sixteen seconds later, Levasseur again beat Lions goaltender Ryan Cooper, and the Hawks found themselves in the driver’s seat with a 3-1 lead.
Penalties then came into play, mainly Lions penalties as first Sylvester Bzdyl was called for high sticking at 13:03. He was then joined in the penalty box at 14:19 by Zach Renfrew who was penalized for handling the puck.
That set the stage for a Hawks five on three and an Aaron Dickenson power-play goal at 14:56.
Now up 4-1, the Hawks coasted to a 5-1 lead, Josh Renaud adding their final counter, again on their power play.
Zach Renfrew scored the final Lions goal with 10 seconds left in the game with help from Chris Rutley and Curtis Pilon.
The Lions were first on the scoreboard in the game with a Chris Rutley (from Grant Coooper) power-play goal late in the first period.
The Hawks Christopher Rossi evened it just over three minutes into the second period, and the tie held until Levasseur took over in the third period.
The Hawks out shot the Lions 44-30 and were successful on two of seven power-play opportunities. The Lions counted once in their three power-play chances against their former teammate, goalie Mikael Dion.
While the Lions were in it all the way in Sunday’s encounter, it was a different story at their Rideau-St. Lawrence Conference Showcase game against the Westport Rideaus in Gananoque, on Saturday morning.
“We did not show up to play against a very good top level, experience hockey club,” said Casselman of the 11-2 loss to the Westport Rideaus.
“Not only were they running on all cylinders, they are also in a battle for first place in their division.”
The Rideaus went up 4-0 in the first period and stretched it to 8-0 after two.
Sylvester Bzdyl scored the two Lions goals in the last couple of minutes of the third period. Assists went to Michael Paquette and Taylor Eamon.
Coming up this weekend, the Lions are at home to the Char-Lan Rebels on Friday, January 11. Game time is 8:30 p.m.
The Rebels are back in second place in the St. Lawrence Division standings with 37 points. The Casselman Vikings are in first place with 46 points, and the Hawks and the Akwesasne Wolves are tied for third place with 32 points each.
The Alexandria Glens remain in the hunt for the fourth and final playoff position with 26 points, while the Lions are well back with just 13 points.