MORRISBURG – It was a high-scoring win at home for the Morrisburg Lions as they beat the South Grenville Rangers 8-5 December 2. The Lions went into the weekend on a five game winning streak and six game unbeaten streak.
The visitors struck first, scoring in the opening two minutes of the game, but it did not take long for the Lions to counter. Morrisburg scored three goals in the first period and led 3-1 into the second period. The Lions and Rangers each added two goals in the second period.
South Grenville scored twice early in the third period, tying the game at 5-5. A pair of goals by Lions’ third line unit of Josh Price (from Josh Broad and Landen Sinfield) restored the Lions’ two goal lead. A final goal in the last seconds of the game resulted in the 8-5 win for Morrisburg.
Forward Ben Lapier scored another hat-trick and had one assist in the game. Ashton Adams had two goals and two assists, Price scored twice, and defenceman Owen Fetterly scored once. Assists were tallied by Justice Brownlee (three), Broad (two), Sinfield (two), James Martens, Jakob Bennett, and Ben Pilon.
“We love playing those guys,” said associate coach Steve Iwachniuk after the game. “They always are going to rise to the occasion and give as good as they get on the ice.”
Iwachniuk continued to praise the well-rounded effort of the Lions in the game.
“We just get production from so many players,” he said, pointing to the team’s third line of Price (right wing), Broad (centre), and Sinfield (left wing). The line was responsible for the game winning goal and restoring the team’s two goal lead.
“They’re just hard working guys and it’s made the difference,” the coach explained.
Lapier continued on his scoring run in the league and currently leads the National Capital Junior Hockey League in goals scored (25), power-play goals (eight), game-tying-goals (five), and is second overall in the league’s point race (52).
“He is having a phenomenal season this year,” Iwachniuk said. “There’s just something – when he shoots the puck, he’s dangerous out there.”
Three of the top-10 players in the points race are from the Lions (Lapier, Brownlee, and Rylan Iwachniuk.) The coach said the individual scoring is great, but the team is not focused on individual performances.
“All our guys are focused on the wins, not the individual points,” the coach said.
The win was goalie Andrew Brooks’ sixth win in a row as he’s settled firmly in to the number one goalie spot.
“I feel great. I am really happy with this team right now and how it’s really come together,” Brooks said after the game. “Out of the past three years that we’ve played South Grenville, this is our strongest year against them. It’s very exciting to be a part of what’s happening with this team.”
The Lions and Rangers have met three times so far this season with Morrisburg holding a 2-1 lead in the season-series. The teams will meet three more times between now and February 2024.
Brooks is having his best season with the Lions this year. The 18-year old goalie from Ottawa has played 21 games this season, and leads the league in wins, and minutes played (1,141). He has a record of 13 wins, six losses and one tie. Brooks’ goals-against-average is 11th best out of NCJHL goalies with over 60 minutes played at 3.89. Last year, his GAA was over five.
Brooks credited his improved performance this year to off-season training, and the support of the defence on the team.
The scheduled December 3 home tilt against the North Dundas Rockets was postponed by the league – one of four games put off Sunday due to weather.
The Lions will travel to Westport Friday night (December 8) to take on the Rideaus, a game that Iwachniuk said he is looking forward to.
“Westport is another hard working team. Every time we go there, our players get fired up to play,” he said. Given the run of wins the Lions have had, Iwachniuk said the team is focused on maintaining discipline on the ice.
“We didn’t have the hop Saturday that we had in the last five or six games. As long as we can stay consistent, we’re going to be getting the win. Great teams always try to find a way to win – that’s what we expect of them.”
Morrisburg remains in first place in the NCJHL West Division and is third overall in the league standings with 27 points (13 wins, seven losses and one tie). They are one point behind the Vankleek Hill Cougars for second place overall in the league.
The Lions will host the fourth place St. Isidore Eagles December 9 at the Morrisburg Arena. Puck drop is at 7:15 p.m.