Morrisburg Lions ride eight game winning streak

Ben Lapier takes over NCJHL scoring and points race – Morrisburg Lions’ alternate captain and forward Ben Lapier (#29, right) scored eight more points (two goals, six assists) and took over the National Capital Junior Hockey League’s overall points race with 60 points so far this season. Lapier leads the league in goals scored (27), is second in assists (33), is tied for first in power-play goals with teammate Justice Brownlee (nine goals each) and leads the league in short-handed-goals with four scored. Lapier is one of four Lions players in the league’s top-10. Brownlee is fourth with 46 points (21 goals, 25 assists), Rylan Iwachniuk is sixth with 33 points (eight goals, 25 assists) and Alex Bergeron is ninth overall with 27 points (15 goals, 12 assists). (The Leader/Blancher photo)

Goalie addition for Lions

MORRISBURG – The Morrisburg Lions have added additional depth to their existing goalie line up.

The Lions traded the rights to player Tyler Cyr to the Cumberland Castors for 19 year old Carson Turner.

Turner played five games this season with the Castors, and had a record of two wins, one tie, and one loss with a 2.39 goals-against-average. In 2022-23 he played 16 games for Cumberland (then known as Clarence Creek) with a 9-3-2 record and a 2.95 GAA.

“This was a good trade for both players,” said team president Kevin Casselman. “Carson provides us with a solid goaltending trio with Andrew Brooks and Carter Veurtjes.”

“In my opinion, we have the two best goalies in the league,” said associate coach Steve Iwachniuk. “We’re super proud to have these two young men on the team and they’re going to be a huge part of our success between now and the end of the year.”

He continued, “it’s great to be challenged and I believe that both of these goalies are going to challenge the other as they’re both fighting for the net during the playoffs. It’s going to be fun to watch because they’re both awesome goalies.”

Turner told The Leader that joining the Lions was an easy move for him.

“I knew a couple of the guys, and the coaching staff and players were very welcoming and supportive,” he said.

Turner debuted for the Lions December 9 in the team’s 8-2 win over the St. Isidore Eagles, facing over 35 shots and allowing only two goals.

“It was a great night, definitely a memorable one,” Turner said. “The game was just one of those nights that everything was in slow motion.” He continued that it felt good to be back in Morrisburg. “It’s a great town to play in. The fans just made it an awesome atmosphere.”

MORRISBURG – The Morrisburg Lions’ winning ways continued as the team extended its winning streak to eight games this past weekend. The team faced off against the Westport Rideaus and St. Isidore Eagles, breaking team records in the process.

The Lions defeated the Rideaus 7-5 on December 8 and routed the St. Isidore Eagles 8-2 December 9.

Morrisburg opened up a 2-1 lead in the first period and extended it to 4-2 in the second. Westport countered in the third period, with both teams scoring three goals each.

Four of the Lions seven goals were on the power-play while the team stopped eight out of 10 power-play opportunities for Westport.

Forward Alex Bergeron led the way in scoring with four points (two goals, two assists), Ben Lapier four points (one goal, three assists), Justice Brownlee three points (two goals, one assist), Rylan Iwachniuk three points (three assists), and goals by Josh Broad and Jakob Bennett. Landen Sinfield, Josh Price, and Justin Cyr each had assists in the game. Goalie Andrew Brooks earned his seventh straight win in the night, stopping 41 of 46 shots.

The team did get into some penalty issues in the third period, with four Lions players earning 10 minute majors in the game, something that alternative captain Curran Gilmour commented on after the game.

“No secret our team has had issues with penalties. We got away from our game plan and got caught up in the nonsense instead of focusing where we should have been,” Gilmour explained.

Gilmour is one of four alternative captains on the team this season. Fellow alternative captain Rylan Iwachniuk agreed.

“The team’s discipline has been much improved from last year. Early in the third period, we took a 6-2 lead and a few scrums broke out which we were penalized for. Ultimately we gave them an opportunity to get back into the game,” Iwachniuk said.

The team returned to Morrisburg to take on the Eagles Saturday night. When the teams met in St. Isidore two months ago, the Lions found themselves on the losing end of an 11-1 result.

Brownlee (from Lapier) opened the scoring early in the first period. Both players had a hand in five of the team’s goals in the game. Lapier (from Owen Fetterly and Brownlee) extended the team’s lead to 2-0 four minutes later.

The Eagles answered back early in the second period. Maxime Patenaude found his way past Lions goalie Carson Turner, who was playing his first game for the team coming from the Cumberland Castors on a trade earlier this month.

A quick fire of goals by Brownlee (Bennett and Lapier) and Ashton Adams (Lapier and Brownlee) at the end of the period saw the Lions extend their lead over the Eagles 4-1 going into the third period.

Sinfield (Broad) added more insurance to the Lions lead with his goal three minutes into the final frame. The Eagles pulled one goal back before the Lions added three more goals to finish off their opponents 8-2. Bergeron’s unassisted goal was followed by Gilmour (from Brownlee) and Morrisburg rookie James Martens with his first goal for the team (from Iwachniuk and Ben Pilon.)

Morrisburg went four-for-four on the penalty-kill but also were unable to capitalize on either of the two power-play opportunities in the game. All eight goals by the Lions were scored playing five-on-five hockey.

Both alternate captains said after the game that the 8-2 win was vindication.

“We were all determined to get that game back,” Iwachniuk said. “We played a very good game.”

“It meant a lot. We came out flying,” said Gilmour. “Our whole team was playing as one, giving everything we had against the Eagles.”

Gilmour and Iwachniuk are two of the team’s four alternate captains – a leadership system that is working so far for the team. Bergeron and Lapier are the two other alternate captains for the Lions.

“Between the four of us, we all have experience at the next levels and it’s good to share that knowledge with the younger players,” Iwachniuk said. “We’re all different types of leaders so it meshes well together.”

Gilmour said there is a benefit to having the four ‘A’s.

“It does not put as much pressure on just one guy,” he explained. “Everyone is stepping up and leading – it’s not just us four that lead just because there is an ‘A’ on our jersey. It’s a very positive environment. Everyone on the team has a voice.”

Both players agreed one of the highlights of the weekend was Martens inaugural goal.

“It was a proud moment for all of us,” said Iwachniuk. “Every single player is contributing to the team,” added Gilmour.

Nearing the Christmas Break, the team is gearing up for its final two games this weekend.

“We love playing South Grenville. It brings out the best out of us,” said Iwachniuk. “It’s a great feeling to be leading our division, but there’s lots of work ahead. We know that every team in the league is going to give their best when they play the Morrisburg Lions. We’d love to close out 2023 on a winning note.”

Gilmour said there is no change in the team’s game plan. “We’re playing great hockey right now. We just need to keep doing what we have been doing and also give our fans a good show before Christmas. Being first in the division, second overall in the league, it feels great.”

Last weekend’s wins broke the Morrisburg Lions’ record for most points and most wins in a season since joining the National Capital Junior Hockey League in 2015. Morrisburg sits in first place in the league’s West Division, and moved into second place overall. The Lions have a record of 15 wins, seven losses and one tie for 31 points. They are seven points behind overall league leader Gatineau.

The Lions have two games before the Christmas Break. They visit the South Grenville Rangers December 16, at 7:30 p.m.; and they host the Westport Rideaus December 17, 2:15 p.m.

Second period slump results in goals against – The debut of new Morrisburg Lions’ goalie Carson Turner was not all roses. A slump in effort in the second period by the home side resulted in this goal by St. Isidore Eagles forward Cedric Hughes. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

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