MORRISBURG – As the final game of the regular season was about to begin February 4, the National Capital Junior Hockey League announced that two Morrisburg Lions players were among the season award winners for 2023-24.
Forward Ben Lapier was named league MVP, and team captain Justice Brownlee was named Best Defensive Forward.
Lapier was the top goal scorer with 40 goals and 46 assists totalling 86 points in 34 games, averaging 2.53 points per game – his best season of junior hockey ever. He also led the league in short-handed-goals (six) and was second in power-play goals (nine).
Line-mate and fellow award winner Brownlee finished with a career-best 27 goals and 39 assists totalling 66 points. He led the league in power-play goals (12), and game-winning-goals (10).
“It feels good winning the award. I wasn’t sure what the decision was going to be,” Lapier told The Leader. He finished first in goals, but second in assists and points to Gatineau Hull-Volant forward Julien Arruda, who amassed 90 points (31 goals, 59 assists).
“I guess it factored in that I had more goals,” Lapier suggested.
Regular season awards are voted on by the coaches and general managers of the 10 team league.
“It feels awesome. I couldn’t be more excited to win. It’s nice to get recognized by the league for your hard work and dedication,” said Brownlee. “It’s also nice to see Morrisburg win that award two years in a row.”
In 2023, then-Lions forward Connor Manderson won the award.
Lapier said playing with good line-mates helped with his performance this season. He plays on the Lions’ top forward line with Brownlee and rookie Ashton Adams.
Winning league awards means a lot for both players. However, the trophy the team mates really want needs 12 more wins to secure.
“We want the hardware at theend of the playoffs – the championship,” said Lapier.
Looking ahead, Brownlee said he can’t wait for the playoffs to begin.
“I mean North Dundas is one of our biggest rivals,” he said. “Playing with Morrisburg for five years now, I just can’t wait to win the ‘Battle of Dundas’ and show our fans what Morrisburg is all about.”
The Morrisburg Lions, who finished in second place overall and first in their division, will face the seventh seeded North Dundas Rockets in their first-round playoff series beginning February 13.
NCJHL Award Winners
Eight other league awards were announced by the NCJHL Sunday afternoon.
The Gatineau Hull-Volant’s William Perrault was named Best Defenceman while team mate Mathias Saumier Altéma was named Best Goaltender. The team’s president and general manager, Richard Gravel, won Executive of the Year.
Maxime Laliberté from the Vankleek Hill Cougars and Justin Cloutier were named the league’s Most Improved players.
Two Almonte Inferno players won league awards: Isaac Edwards for Most Sportsmanlike; and Cooper Rock for Rookie of the Year.
Westport Rideaus’ coach Steve Merkley won Coach of the Year, and Brianna Lefebvre won the Bédard Family Trophy for her work as the league’s statistician and webmaster.