The Morrisburg Junior B Lions are undefeated in their pre-season six game schedule, and coach Thom Racine says he likes what he has seen.
“We had an undefeated pre-season which is really encouraging,” says Racine. “And it was actually with split squads. We never had a full squad for any of the games which is really encouraging.”
Racine says with the good pre-season under the Lions’ belts, the team will begin working on getting the season off to a good start with their first practice on Morrisburg ice, last night (Tuesday, September 13).
The Lions are getting ready for their season opening game this Friday night at the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s show case event being played at the two-pad Kemptville Arena this weekend.
“We have 23 players to start the year,” says Racine who does not plan to go the way of last year, with short benches for every other game. He indicates that all of the players are aware that there will be players sitting out when numbers warrant it.
Returning to the Lions net for his second season is Mikael Dion and he is being joined by Ryan Cooper a 17-year-old from Cornwall.
The Lions this year also boast two local brother combinations. Joining his big brother Sam, is Ty Hodgson, a 16-year-old from Morrisburg who last year played for the Rideau St. Lawrence Kings organization.
“Ty is a good young defenceman, and I expect this will be the only season we will see him play in Morrisburg.”
Also with a family connection is Lance Hodgson from Williamsburg.
Returning for their second season are Drew (last year’s Coaches Award Winner) and Clarke Veenstra (last year’s regular season MVP) of the Ingleside area.
“We are happy with our local flavour, and we have a good mix of imports that we feel we need to stay competitive. They are all returning from last year.”
Racine says the objective is to have a competitive team that people want to come and see. “To be competitive in the league now, you pretty much have to go outside your area for players.”
With this year’s roster set, Racine and his coaching staff of Cody Casselman and Jarrett Racine will now work to “get them all on the same page. We have plans for a two hour practice once a month in order to get as many of them out as possible.”
Signed to overage cards for the season are veteran Lions Matt Ouimette, Alex Steingruber (a top goal scorer last year and winner of the most assists trophy) and Joshua Dunn (last year’s top offensive player award winner).
For the time being the Lions fourth overage card will remain open.
“There are 88, 21-year-old cards in the entire Junior League, and there are 134 eligible kids,” says Racine. “So there will be 21 year olds out there who will be looking for a place to play.”
The Lions open their 2011/12 season this Friday night in Kemptville at 6:30 p.m. against the Ottawa West Golden Knights. Their second game of Showcase Weekend is set for Saturday night at 8 p.m. against Stittsville.
Results of the two games count in this year’s regular season. The showcase is the only time during the regular season that North Conference teams will meet teams from the South Conference (Rideau/St.Lawrence).
The Lions home ice opener is set for next weekend (Sunday, September 25) when the Winchester Hawks come to town for a 2:30 p.m. match.
In their pre-season, the Lions got rolling with a 4-2 victory over Char-Lan on Saturday, September 3. Then on Sunday, they defeated Brockville 7-6. After two days off they were back on the ice to pick up a 5-4 win against Akwesasne on Tuesday, September 6 and a 7-5 win against Brockville on Wednesday, September 7.
On Saturday, September 10 they were held to a 6-6 tie by the Akwesasne Wolves and Monday night of this week they won against Char-Lan 4-2.