Some tough decisions have been made, some new recruits have joined the squad and some familiar faces are back, as the Morrisburg Junior B Lions prepare to open their 2013-14 season this Friday night in Alexandria, followed by their home opener Saturday night on Morrisburg ice, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Signed to goal this year are 19-year-old Brandon Chilton from Moose Factory, Ontario, and 18-year-old John Gilmer from Morrisburg.
Chilton, who is attending Algonquin College caught the eye of the Morrisburg coaches during Prospects Camp. In 2011, he played in the Timmins Major AAA Midget program and in 2012, he was with the Kanata Stallion Jr. A.
Gilmer is a home grown product. He played last year with CHI academy in Rockland Major AAA Midget.
Last week was extremely busy for the Lions, both on and off the ice, as several pre-season deals were completed.
Among them, the Lions traded the playing rights of veteran forward Michel Lefevbre to the Alexandria Glens for a 16-year-old card for the 2014-15 season, plus the playing right to Chris Pearson and player development fees.
Defenceman, Chris Pearson, 6’1’ is a right-handed defenceman assigned from the Carleton Place Jr. A Canadians.
Also on September 5, the Prescott Flyers (formerly the South Grenville Rangers) traded Pascal Dirocco to the Lions for future considerations. One day earlier, the Lions traded Zach Seguin to the Akwesasne Wolves for future considerations.
On August 30, the Metcalfe Jets traded the playing rights for Peter Ketcheson to the Morrisburg Lions for a PDF and a 16 year old card for next year.
The Lions defence has really shaped up. Along with the addition of Pearson, veteran Lion Drew Veenstra (Ingleside) has signed an overage card.
“Drew will be our anchor on the back end,” says Casselman. “After Drew, we have a pretty young defensive squad, so we are looking to him to be a leader.”
The Lions are excited to welcome defenceman Andrew Jarvis, a product of the South Dundas Minor system. The property of the Brockville Braves, “AJ is signed with the Lions and affiliated with the Braves. This is going to be a real development year for AJ. He had an outstanding camp with the Braves, and they want him to play a year with us.”
Jarvis will skate weekly with the Braves and will practise and play with the Lions. His affiliation allows him to play 10 games with the Braves.
“We are very excited to have AJ. He is very talented and a smart hockey player. It’s only for one year, but if we can help in his development, that is great,” says Casselman.
Also on the blueline is Curtis Evans, 6’3” twin brother of forward Eric Evans. Curtis played last year with the Seaway Valley AA Midgets.
Returning to the Lions forward lineup as an overage player is Christian Leger who has played the last three seasons in the CCHL with the Ottawa Jr. A Senators and Gloucester Rangers. Fans will remember Christian for the outstanding rookie season he had with the Lions.
Other local players signed with the Lions are forwards Eric Evans of Long Sault, Isaac Brownlee of Osnabruck Centre, Brandon Mullin of Iroquois, Kyle Adams of Morrisburg and veteran Clark Veenstra.
Evans who made the Lions team last year, was sent back to finish his midget season and now returns after a good midget year.
Isaac Brownlee is a 6’3” right winger. Last year, he was a member of the Eastern Ontario Conras AA midget team and was affiliated with the Lions.
“Brandon Mullin brings a huge offensive skill and talent to the team. Brandon has one mission and that is to score goals…and he knows how to do it.” An 18-year-old, Brandon played midget hockey in the South Dundas Minor Hockey Association last year.
Kyle Adams, “has had an outstanding camp. Kyle has really impressed the coaches. He has really been working hard.” A 20-year-old, Kyle is attending Algonquin College.
Casselman says the Lions have a good mix of size and speed and he invites the community to come out and support the team. Along with the local players, there are some really talented area players that will provide some great action.
On the blue line, Casselman says to watch for Zach Belaire (Ottawa Triple A Senators last year), Dan Fyckes (Norwood, NewYork) and Pascal Dirocco (acquired in a trade with Prescott Flyers).
Up front are Peter Ketchson (came to the Lions on loan late last year from the Metcalfe Jets), Alex Kidd (6’1” winger who played for Ottawa AA Major Midget Sting last year), Robert Scott (Potsdam, NewYork), Tyler Young ( Massena, New York), Dallas Blacksmith (6’4” winger with Ottawa Jr. B Canadians last year), veteran Lion Mike Paquette (Pierrefonds, Quebec) and Taylor Eamon (came to the Lions late last year in a trade with the Casselman Vikings).
Interestingly, the American players came to the Lions through the encouragement and recommendation of former Lion Richie Boprey, a very talented and crucial member of the Lions championship squads in the late 1970s.