Jr. Lions push playoff series to the limit

MORRISBURG – The Morrisburg Jr. Lions’ first round playoff series is going to a deciding game five.

Morrisburg entered the playoff weekend against the Clarence Castors tied at one game apiece, playing game three on the road March 4. For Lions’ captain Dean Lapier, it was career-high four point effort as the Lions doubled the Castors 6-3.

Kayne McCadden opened the Lions’ scoring less than two minutes into the game, assisted by Carter Tait and Lapier. Three minutes later, Lapier scored his first of three goals in the game (from Tait, and Jakob Bennett.)

Late in the first period, Lapier (from Alex Bergeron and Ben Pilon) scored a power play goal, giving the Lions a 3-0 lead.

Morrisburg had a scoreless second period, successfully fending off two power play opportunities for Clarence. The Castors pulled two even-strength goals back, the first three minutes in, the second with five minutes left, in the period.

The Lions held off the Castors for the first two-thirds of the third period, despite a five minute power play awarded to Clarence for head contact. With six minutes remaining, the Castors tied the game at 3-3, but 15 seconds after the goal, the Lions found themselves on a five minute power play of their own.

Just over three minutes remained in the game when Tait’s power play goal (from Rylan Iwachniuk and Curran Gilmour) lifted the Lions back out in front 4-3. A minute later, Lapier’s own power play goal (from Josh Broad) added insurance.

Playing the final two minutes at four-on-four hockey due to a Lions’ minor penalty, a breakaway by Ben Lapier resulted in his unassisted goal. Lions win game three 6-3.

The series flipped to Morrisburg 18 hours later on Sunday afternoon. Looking to clinch the series, the Lions were having to dispatch the Castors but stumbled with multiple turns in the penalty box.

Despirate to stay alive in the playoff series, the Castors hit back early, scoring eight minutes into the game. Forward Alex Bergeron (from Bennett and Iwachniuk) scored a power play goal less than three minutes later to tie the game 1-1.

Late in the period, with three of the top five scoring forwards for the Lions out due to injury, Iwachniuk was tossed from the game with a game misconduct.

Late in the second period, the Castors’ Jacob Servant scored the go-ahead goal to send the visitors into the lead 2-1.

The Lions found themselves in the penalty box three times in the third period, and the Castors capitalized on the opportunity scoring two power play goals which resulted in a 4-1 loss for the Lions in game four.

The Lions travel back to Clarence Creek for the deciding game five of the playoff series March 8. The winner will face the North Dundas Rockets or South Grenville Rangers.

Morrisburg will be at a further disadvantage in Wednesday’s game as Iwachniuk will serve a one game suspension.

“We feel despite the injuries and this suspension, that our roster is more than capable and motivated to go into Wednesday’s game and earn the series win,” said Lions’ General Manager and Head Coach Cody Casselman.

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader