The Morrisburg Junior B Lions played their first regular season game on home ice, Sunday, for a start that coach Thom Racine says was disappointing.
After falling behind the visiting Winchester Hawks early on, the Lions managed to pull out of the first period behind by just two goals (4-2).
They got it together in the second period, with back-to-back counters early on to even it, but that was it.
The Hawks added two goals in the second and another three in the third to claim a 9-4 win.
“We really responded in the second period and tied it up, but then we forgot who we were playing,” said coach Racine. “You can’t give the puck away and make mental errors against the best team in the league.”
“In the third period we were skating with them, but then we had one of those kind of errors I am trying to cut down on.”
“Winchester is a good team. They are physical and don’t get me wrong, they played very well. They are a veteran team and they know how to intimidate.”
The Hawks went up 4-2 in the first period on goals by Evan Walker, Graham Loyst, Paul Bernard-Corbeil and Josh Stubbings.
The Lions answered with goals by Ryan Ward (unassisted) and Alex Steingruber (on the power play from Clarke Veenstra and Francis Roberge).
Rookie Lion, Ryan Dunbar got it rolling in the second period with the first junior B goal of his career from Marc Antoine Kamel and Brayden Girard.
According to Racine, the goal and resulting celebration didn’t sit well with Hawks’ defenceman Paul Bernard-Corbeil whose blow to Dunbar resulted in a match penalty.
“Ryan left the game, but he came back.”
The Lions also took advantage of the five minute penalty with Steingruber scoring on the power play from Ryan Ward and Clarke Veenstra to tie the game 4-4.
That however, was it for the Lions. The Hawks got two more from Stubbings and Loyst (short-handed) to end the second period in the lead 6-4.
Stubbings, Brock Burge and Evan Walker made it a 9-4 Hawks win.
Mikael Dion started in net for the Lions and after 7:30 was relieved by Ryan Cooper.
“We didn’t get the goaltending and Mikael knew it,” said Racine. “He was fine with being yanked. Ryan did a good job going in, in relief. For his first taste of Junior B action, I thought he was good.”
Unfortunately, Racine says he may have lost Steingruber for a couple of weeks with an injury. “It’s a huge loss if we lose him for any length of time. He’s a great player.”
Racine says the loss on their home ice was tough for the Lions, but “I expect them to learn from their mistakes. It was a quiet dressing room after the game, and I let them wallow in it for a couple of minutes. They were disappointed.”
This week the Lions are preparing to take on the Char-Lan Rebels in Morrisburg, Friday night (September 30) at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, they are on the road to Alexandria to take on the Glens at 2:30 p.m.