Although the Morrisburg Junior Lions have long been out of the St. Lawrence Division playoff picture, their much improved play of late is causing a bit of havoc in the standings as four teams continue to jockey for the second through fourth place positions.
This past week, the Lions defeated the third place Winchester Hawks, not once, but twice, and then forced the Alexandria Glens into overtime for their 3-2 win.
After the Casselman Vikings at 67 points, (first place locked up weeks ago position), it becomes pretty much anybody’s game…with the next four contenders all within four points of each other for the next three spots.
The Rebels are holding the edge with 43 points in 34 games, while the Hawks (in 35 games) have 40 points and Akwesasne (34 games played) and Alexandria (37 games played) are tied with 39 points.
To say there will be some interesting games in the next two weekends (regular season ends February 9) is an understatement, and the Lions, with two upcoming games against Akwesasne (closing weekend) and one against Char-Lan (Saturday, February 1 at Char-Lan), could possibly play a major part in the outcome of it all.
The Lions got rolling on their best stretch of hockey this season on home ice last Tuesday night, when they downed the visiting Hawks 8-4.
They held the pace, Friday night, January 24, again to double the Hawks, this time by a 6-3 count right in Winchester.
Sunday on home ice, they held the Glens to a 2-2 tie in regulation time and lost in overtime.
The Lions kicked off their week with the 8-4 victory over the Hawks on home ice last Tuesday night, January 21.
After a scoreless first period, Shawn Simms put the Hawks on the scoreboard 3:42 into the second, and at 8:52 the Lions Justin Lefevbre evened it with help from Eric Evans and Liam Morrow.
Two more Lions goals, from Isaac Brownlee at 14:47 and Morrow at 19:56, put the Lions in command of the game, 3-1 at the end of the second period.
Just under two minutes into the third period, the Hawks Bryden Van Kessel cut the gap to 3-2, but that was it as the Lions came charging back for four in a row to make it 7-2.
Cole Blanchard started it off on the Lions power play, then Justin Rutley scored while the Lions were short-handed at 5:46.
William White made it 6-2 at 8:32 and Drew Veenstra counted the Lions seventh goal at 11:34, unassisted.
The Hawks came back for two from Brodie Braun and Shawn Simms, but that was it.
Justin Rutley (from White and Michael Paquette) scored his second of the game in the last minute of play for the 8-4 Lions win.
John Gilmer was in the Lions net for the win and Nathan Bowness saw action for the Hawks.
The Lions sat out seven minor penalties and a 10 minute misconduct, while the Hawks were assessed nine minors and a misconduct.
The two were back at it Friday night in Winchester, and finally after 15 minutes of action in the first period, Justin Rutley (from Justin Lefevbre) got it started for the Lions with a goal at 15:34.
Chris Pearson, with help from Rutley, made it 2-0 Lions at 15:34.
The 2-0 Lions lead held until 13:06 of the second period when Drew Veenstra (from Steven Savage) upped it to 3-0.
The second period came to an end with a flourish of goals, three scored in just over one minute.
Austin Roth and Bryden Van Kesssel both put the puck past Lions goaltender Brandon Chilton, while Drew Veenstra counted once against Hawks goaltender Jeremy Wright, to give the Lions a 4-2 advantage heading into the third period.
Steve Savage put the Lions up 5-2 at 6:23, and at 8:24 Kyle Richardson cup the gap to 5-3.
That would be all for the Hawks and the Lions would count one more from the stick of Chris Pearson (assisted by Justin Rutley) for the 6-3 win.
The Lions were assessed seven minor penalties, while the Hawks drew 12 minors, a double minor, a five minute cross checking major, two 10 minute misconducts and two game misconducts.
Saturday night, on home ice, the Lions lost a heart-breakers to the visiting Alexandria Glens, 3-2 in overtime.
Chris Pearson, on the Lions power play, put them one up at 15:35 of the first period with help from Steven Savage.
That lasted until 5:55 into the second period when Brandon Barillao beat Lions goaltender John Gilmer to even it a 1-1.
Again the Lions came charging back, this time with a Liam Morrow goal assisted by Kieran Devine at 7:09.
The Lions advantage lasted until 12:24 when Adam Cooke beat Gilmer to even it 2-2 and that’s the way it ended.
Eric Verville counted the overtime winner for the Glens.
The Lions sat out six minor penalties, a five minute fighting major and a game misconduct. The Glens were assessed five minors and corresponding fighting and misconduct penalties. The Lions were outshot 49-33.
Coming up this week the Lions travel to Casselman for a 7:30 p.m game Thursday night, January 30. Saturday, February 1, they are on the road to take on the Char-Lan Rebels.
Their final home game is Sunday, February 9, when the Akwesasne Wolves are in town for a 2:30 p.m. match.
For the February 9 game, the Lions are inviting all kids from South Dundas and South Stormont to come to the game. All youngsters wearing their team hockey jersey will be admitted free to the game. The Lions encourage you to bring a non perishable food item to be donated to the local Food Bank.
The Morrisburg Lions understand the dedication and commitment of the minor hockey players involved with playing Canada’s pastime and would like to reward those that play this wonderful game with a free afternoon of Junior hockey.