Morrisburg Lions hold on to win 4-3

Lions lead their first round playoff series against the Rockets 1-0.

Morrisburg Lions’ goalie Carson Turner held off a late challenge by the North Dundas Rockets as the visitors looked to tie the game with seconds remaining. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

MORRISBURG – One win down, 11 more to go. The Morrisburg Lions opened their National Capital Junior Hockey League first round playoff series against the North Dundas Rockets in a rare Tuesday night game (February 13), winning 4-3.

Before a nearly full house, the Lions took a 1-0 lead late in the first period. Forward Ashton Adams’ goal was his first of two unassisted goals in the game. Morrisburg led 1-0 after 20 minutes.

Four minutes into the second period, Ayden Brascoupe scored (from Alex Bergeron and Curran Gilmour) to extend the Lions’ lead to 2-0. The Rockets responded in kind 30 seconds later as Ryley Mcclain (from Caden Holmes and Jayman Heuff) made a 2-1 game.

Morrisburg handled their first penalty-kill of the night with style – and a short-handed goal. Brascoupe intercepted the play in the neutral zone, feeding the puck to forward Rylan Iwachniuk – whose shot went through the five hole. Lions led the Rockets 3-1.

The Lions eased off early in the third period, and paid for it. The Rockets controlled the puck for most of the first half of the period with the Lions playing defence. Morrisburg got caught twice by the refs leading to having to penalty-kill playing five-on-three hockey. No sooner did the Lions get one player out of the penalty box, Rockets’ defenceman Nick Milbury teed up a pass from Theo Laforest and Jordan Cruz to score making it a one goal game. The Lions continued to lead 3-2.

North Dundas’ celebrating was short lived as Adams broke away from the pack a minute later to score his second of the night, restoring the Lions two goal lead. Things almost got off the rails again five minutes later as the Rockets rallied again. Cruz (from Parker Lefebvre and Nathan Lister) scored to make it a one goal game yet again.

Morrisburg Lions’ forward Ashton Adams scored his second unassisted goal of the game in the third period Tuesday. (The Leader/Blancher photo)
Forward Ashton Adams scored the Lions opening goal late in the first period. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

Morrisburg responded, keeping the puck in North Dundas’ end for all but the final 45 seconds of the game. The Rockets pulled goalie Jason Van Wieren for the extra attacker but Lions’ netminder Carson Turner stood tall in net, making key saves with the pressure on in the final seconds. The Lions held on for a 4-3 win to take game one of the best-of-seven game series.

“We took our foot off the gas and got too comfortable,” said Lions’ captain Justice Brownlee after the game. “Those are the little things we learn as the playoffs go on. We all know [the championship] won’t come without hard work. We are just going to keep working as hard as we can.”

Playing before a nearly full house, Brownlee said winning the first game of the series at home was “awesome.”

“It felt awesome knowing our fan base is here to support us no matter what day it is,” he said, acknowledging that hard work from the team will pay off with more wins. “We are just going to keep working as hard as we can.”

Associate coach Steve Iwachniuk said the team played well for most of the game.

“We played really well defensively and could have scored 10 more goals if we had a little luck,” he told The Leader. “We had over 60 shots on net, so [North Dundas’] goalie played really well.”

Iwachniuk continued, “We controlled a lot of the game tonight and everyone had fun. We look forward to Friday night where we have to do it all over again. North Dundas is a good team and we have a lot of respect for them. ”

The coach thanked the community for their support of the Lions this season, and at the start of the playoffs.

“It was great to see so many people out on a Tuesday night to watch the game. We have the best fans in the league,” said Iwachniuk. “I had multiple conversations with people throughout the community today and they all told me how excited they are to come to the game tonight. These are the little things that matter most, and we really appreciate it.”

Three games are on tap for this weekend. The playoff series moves up to Chesterville for Game Two on Friday night (February 16), followed by Game Three in Morrisburg February 17, and Game Four back in Chesterville on February 18.

Morrisburg Lions’ players salute the supportive crowd in attendance following the team’s 4-3 win February 13. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

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