MORRISBURG – The race for the top spots in the National Capital Junior Hockey League is heating up and the Morrisburg Lions returned to the win column Sunday with a 6-2 win over their river rivals – the South Grenville Rangers.
Since returning from the Christmas Break, the Lions had won only one of three games played. Still the team remained in second place overall in the league, and led the NCJHL’s West Division.
The Lions hosted the Rangers at the Morrisburg Arena January 21.
Back-to-back goals by the league’s lead goal scorer Ben Lapier 10 seconds apart put the Lions in the lead midway through the first period. Lapier was set up by defenceman Curran Gilmour and team captain Justice Brownlee for the first goal. Seconds later, Ashton Adams and Brownlee assisted Lapier’s second. Lions led the Rangers 2-0 at the break.
Just over a minute into the second period Adams (Brownlee, Gilmour) sent the puck past Rangers’ goalie Mattix Scharf to go up 3-0.
Morrisburg extended their lead to 4-0 at the eight minute mark in the period when Josh Broad scored his fifth goal of the season (from Landen Sinfield and Jakob Bennett.)
While defending a penalty-kill minutes later, a clearing pass by Brownlee to Lapier saw him break away, completing his hat-trick for the game, Lapier’s fifth hat-trick this season. Morrisburg continued to lead South Grenville 5-0.
The Rangers finally got on to the scoreboard with six minutes left in the second period. Nic Campeau (from Hayden Walker and Zach White) tipped the puck past Lions’ net-minder Carson Turner. Lions led the Rangers 5-1 after 40 minutes.
After assisting the four out of the five goals so far in the game, Brownlee scored one of his own at the midway mark of the third period. Brownlee’s power-play goal, assisted by Lapier, was his 11th of the season. The captain leads the league in power-play goals.
South Grenville’s Matt White clawed back one goal (from Zach White and Campeau) with eight minutes remaining in the game. The Lions continued on to their 6-2 win.
Brownlee credited the win to the hard work by the team.
“It’s good to get back in the win column, especially against a rival team like South Grenville,” he said. “Carson [Turner] stood on his head. Our goalies have been playing amazingly.”
Alternate captain and top goal scorer Lapier agreed.
“Carson made some really clutch saves in that game that could have turned the momentum.”
Brownlee explained that recent practices have helped get the team back on track after the Christmas Break.
“We worked on our breakout, getting the puck up the ice as quickly as possible,” he said adding that having four lines rolling most games helps.
Lapier said the team played well in the game.
“We’re used to playing two games per weekend, so everyone was flying out there – lots of energy,” Lapier said.
Going into the final stretch with four games in five days, Brownlee said the team is going to take things one game at a time.
“We’re going to come out every game and as long as we work harder out there than the other time, we’ll be successful,” he said. “We’re just going to keep pushing. The team can’t be more excited for the playoffs. We’re working hard to keep getting better and better on the ice.”
Lapier agreed adding that he hoped to win all four games.
“As long as we can stay ahead of Westport, we’ll stay second seed for the playoffs which is the goal.”
New additions to the team before the January 10 trade deadline added to the team dynamic. The Lions added Jack Crinkshaw and Ayden Brascoupe to the line up. Crinkshaw played last season with the Tweed Hawks, while Brascoupe had 20 points on the Gatineau Hull-Volant’s championship team last season, scoring 13 goals. Brascoupe arrived via the Clarence Castors, where he played this season.
“I’m really happy to be on this team,” Crinkshaw told The Leader. He recently moved to South Dundas and works for Hydro One. “The team’s been very welcoming. It’s great to join the team and have the opportunity to play. They’re a great group of guys.”
Brascoupe was unavailable for comment by publication deadline.
The Lions face a tough end to the regular season. They play four games in five games beginning Friday, January 26. First up, a rare home game on a Friday night against the North Dundas Rockets. The teams play each other again in Chesterville Saturday night. Then Morrisburg hosts the Almonte Inferno on Sunday in their final regular season home game. The Lions will travel to Westport to face the Rideaus Tuesday January 30. Morrisburg will close out the regular season schedule Sunday, February 2 in Prescott against the Rangers.