MORRISBURG – The Morrisburg Lions took a step backwards from recent successes on the ice, losing 7-4 to local rivals, the North Dundas Rockets January 13.
The Lions, who continue to sit at the top of the National Capital Junior Hockey League West Division and are second overall in the league, have only won one game so far in 2024.
“North Dundas is fighting to move up in the standings,” said Lions’ associate coach Steve Iwachniuk after Saturday’s game. The coach put the weekend’s loss down to the team still getting back into the swing of things after the two week Christmas Break.
“Anytime you have a break, it takes time to get people back on track,” explained Iwachniuk. “Our play Saturday wasn’t where we needed it to be.”
North Dundas landed on the scoreboard early in the first period. Cam Sherrer scored a power-play goal two-and-a-half minutes in to put the Rockets ahead 1-0.
Lions’ forward Alex Bergeron levelled the game on the power-play midway through the first period. Ben Lapier and Rylan Iwachniuk assisted Bergeron’s goal. The teams were tied 1-1 at the break.
The Rockets scored again on the power-play early in the second period. Jarrett Ladouceur moved North Dundas back into the lead. An unassisted goal by Parker Lefebvre added to the Rockets goal tally, leading the Lions 3-1.
Lions’ forward Ashton Adams whipped the puck from behind the Rockets’ goal scoring another “Michigan” goal at the 13-minute mark of the period to keep the Lions in the game. Lapier and Justice Brownlee assisted on the goal, Adams’ 18th of the season.
North Dundas kept blasting through. Sherrer added another power-play goal late in the period, as the Lions trailed the Rockets 4-2 after 40 minutes.
Looking to get back into the game again in the third period, both teams racked up the penalty minutes and goals.
The first half of the period had the Lions on the defensive. North Dundas scored twice within three-and-a-half minutes. Lefebvre and Theo Laforest notched the goals for the Rockets as they extended their lead to 6-2.
While on another penalty-kill, Lapier broke away from the Rockets’ attack with the puck, scoring a short-handed goal for the Lions. The Rockets quickly responded on the same power-play. Brady Sinclair made it 7-3 for the Rockets. The scoring kept going, this time for the Lions. Kayne McCadden (from Landen Sinfield and Hudson Fetterly) drew back one goal for Morrisburg. The team continued to trail the Rockets 7-4.
A rough final 10 minutes of the game saw three players ejected: McCadden for the Lions; Jordan Heuff and Marty McLeod for the Rockets. The Lions lost 7-4.
Morrisburg goaltender Carson Turner saw his first loss in net since joining the team mid-season.
Coach Iwachniuk chalked some of the loss up to the improved play by the Rockets. The team won a home-and-home series against the South Grenville Rangers the previous weekend.
“Games like these show the caliber of the league overall. Anyone can win on any day.”
Six games remain for the Lions in the regular season, with two games against the Rockets, two against the Rangers, and one game each against the Almonte Inferno and a rescheduled game against the Westport Rideaus to go. The Lions’ saw their Friday night game against the Rideaus postponed due to weather conditions.
“We still have six games to get things in line for how we’re going to look for the playoffs,” the coach said. “We’re in a tiny bit of a funk. From here we’re going to push through and be stronger than we were.”
Looking ahead to next weekend, the Lions have one game on the schedule. The team will host the South Grenville Rangers on January 21. Puck drop is 2:15 p.m.
“Anytime we play South Grenville, it’s going to be a good game,” said Iwachniuk. “The two communities love to battle against each other. We’re looking forward to the game.”