MORRISBURG – For many players playing in the National Capital Junior Hockey League, the final game of the season can literally be their last game of junior hockey. For Morrisburg Lions defenceman Aaron Smith, this was just the case.
Smith, a Morrisburg native, spent three seasons with the Jr. C Lions. Playing hockey for the Jr. C team was a natural fit for him as he grew up playing in the South Dundas Minor Hockey Association from age 5 up.
“Playing locally, it was great to look up in the stands or the lobby and see the familiar faces of friends and family who showed up to the games and supported us,” Smith told The Leader in an interview after the end of the season. “I am proud to represent my hometown and this community.”
Smith tried out for the Lions after his final year of Midget hockey, but an injury prevented him from attending many of the sessions. After taking a season off to heal, he tried out and made the team for the 2017-18 season.
That first year, Smith had four points (two goals, two assists). His second season saw the same points production, but in 2019-20, he doubled his points production, ending his junior career on a high note of four goals and four assists. Smith played both forward and defence this year but he didn’t believe he did anything differently on the ice.
“Maybe just in the right place at the right time,” he said. “Maybe a few more scoring opportunities up front.”
It wasn’t a stellar season for the Lions this year. The team finished in the basement of the NCJHL with just four wins and a tie in 34 games.
“A lot of our games were lopsided scores, so it’s tough to go out there shift after shift, game after game, and not feel a little discouraged and responsible for some of it; but I never wanted to give up,” Smith said. “I tried to stay positive and showed up to play each game, seeing every game as a new opportunity to win or improve. Even though our on-ice record did not prove to be successful, I feel like we had great team camaraderie and the dressing room atmosphere was usually pretty good considering.”
Smith said that he was thankful for playing for Lions’ head coach Ken Turnbull.
“Ken was always encouraging and supportive,” he said. “He’s just an all around great guy.”
Smith said he encourages anyone, especially local players, to try out for future seasons with the Morrisburg Lions.
“It’s a great organization and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here,” he said. “There’s only one way for the team to improve, and that’s for local talent, or otherwise, to commit to playing. There are a lot of young and talented players, who could help take this team to a more competitive level.”
Smith is currently finishing his third and final level as a Red Seal Carpenter through the apprenticeship program at Algonquin College. An avid outdoorsman, he spends his spare time hunting and fishing, and plans to play recreational hockey.
“Maybe I’ll try my hand at coaching down the line,” Smith said and added that his dad has been a big influence for him.
“My dad loves sports and has always been passionate about both baseball and hockey. I grew up playing competitive ball and hockey with his constant support and encouragement,” he said.
Smith’s dad, Jamie Smith, has coached him several times over the years.
“He has definitely been a big influence and positive role model for me, both on and off the ice.”
Smith said he will take away from his years with the Lions memories of all the friends and teammates he has met over the years, and ofthe coaches he has had the opportunity to play for.
“As a young guy, I have a lot going on with work, school, and friends, but always found myself super committed to hockey, and this team,” Smith said. “It was never a chore to attend practice or games.”
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Morrisburg Lions and I would like to thank the entire organization for a great three years. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to play.”