MORRISBURG/PRESCOTT – It was nearly a perfect weekend for the Morrisburg Lions. The team held on for a tie against the Cumberland Castors November 10 in Morrisburg, then doubled the South Grenville Rangers on the road the following night.
First up, Morrisburg played host to Cumberland in a rare Friday night home game at the Morrisburg Arena, trading goals throughout the night.
The Castors struck early when Jacob Dorion put the puck past Lions’ goalie Andrew Brooks 49 seconds into the game. Rylan Iwachniuk tied the game nine minutes in with a power play goal, assisted by Alex Bergeron and Justice Brownlee.
Four minutes later, Morrisburg took the 2-1 lead with Landen Sinfield’s goal (from Josh Broad and Josh Price.) Cumberland tied the game three minutes after, but that lead lasted just a minute. Curran Gilmour’s goal (Sinfield, Price) with 2:11 remaining in the period set Morrisburg up for a 3-2 lead going into the second frame.
The Lions held on to the lead to the halfway mark of the second period when a breakaway by Jaddus Savoie resulted in an unassisted shorthanded goal to tie the game 3-3. Later on another Lions’ power-play, Bergeron set up Ben Lapier for his 13th goal of the season. Lions led the Castors 4-3.
Back-to-back goals by Cumberland 51 seconds apart in the opening two minutes of the third period saw the Castors take a 5-4 lead over the Lions.
Quick work by Owen Fetterly and Lapier set up Ashton Adams for the tying goal with 15:38 remaining on the clock. A questionable penalty against Lapier in the final minute of regulation put the Lions on the defensive with the game on the line – however the team shut down the Castors offence to the final whistle. The teams entered a four-on-four 10 minute overtime period.
Morrisburg began OT on a penalty-kill for the first 45 seconds before Cumberland landed one of their own in the “sin bin” for interference. The Lions were unable to capitalize on their own power-play in OT. The teams ended the game knotted up 5-5, each drawing a point in the standings for their efforts.
The Lions were back on the ice Saturday night against the Rangers for game two of their season series – this time with better results for Morrisburg. The last time the two teams met on October 14, the Rangers won 4-2 – this time, it was the Lions who prevailed 4-2.
South Grenville’s Justin Greene (from Holden Hildebrandt and Kieran Clarke) was first on the scoreboard, 14 minutes into the game. Lapier countered three minutes later for Morrisburg (from Eamonn McSwiggan) to tie the game at 1-1.
Josh Price (Broad, Bowen Gaceta) scored the Lions’ go-ahead-goal less than three minutes into the second period. Morrisburg led South Grenville 2-1 into the third period of the game.
It only took 14 seconds into a Lions power-play for Lapier (McSwiggan, Brownlee) to add to the teams’ goal tally. A quick draw off the face off by Brownlee found McSwiggan down the ice to Lapier for a shot past Rangers goalie Mattix Scharf – Lions led the Rangers 3-1. Lapier set up Adams for Morrisburg’s fourth goal of the night less than three minutes later: more insurance that the team needed to use.
South Grenville rallied late, taking advantage of a Rangers’ power-play. Hildebrandt (Zach White, Patrick Holmes) scored with 2:37 left in the game. The Rangers tried to continue their rally, but were thwarted by the Lions’ defence and solid goaltending by Brooks. The Lions won 4-2, taking three-out-of-a-possible four points from the Remembrance Day weekend.
“These are great results,” said Lions’ associate coach Steve Iwachnuik after the game. “Our guys have been more disciplined and really working hard to improve. The last few weeks, it’s been starting to come together.”
Iwachniuk said the game against South Grenville was Morrisburg’s best win “by far.”
“We love playing against South Grenville,” he continued. “Lucas [Stitt] has built a great team. They’re a great organization. We know every time we play against each other, it’s going to be a great game.”
Iwachniuk highlighted goaltender Andrew Brooks’ recent performances and how he has developed the last two years. Brooks leads the league in minutes played (869), has a record of eight wins, six losses and one tie, and improved to a 3.66 goals-against-average.
“Andrew played phenomenally in the Rangers game. His confidence has been through the roof. He loves to compete,” Iwachniuk said. “We’ve challenged him to be a leader on the ice and in the locker room, and he is doing that. He’s an amazing hockey player and a great human – it’s nice to see him keep getting better and better every week.”
The Lions remain in fourth place in the National Capital Junior Hockey League, improving to a record of eight wins, seven losses and one tie for 17 points.
Morrisburg sit two points behind the third place St. Isidore Eagles with one game in hand. Hot on the Lions’ paws are the Castors in fifth place (16 points) and the North Dundas Rockets (14 points). The Castors have two games in hand, while the Rockets have four games in hand.
Morrisburg and North Dundas play in a crucial home-and-home series this weekend. Up first, the Lions travel to Chesterville November 18 to face the Rockets.
Puck drop for that game is 7:30 p.m. at the Chesterville and District Arena. Less than 24 hours later, the teams square off again, this time in Morrisburg on November 19, 2:15 p.m. puck drop.