MORRISBURG – The Morrisburg Jr. C Lions are off to their best season start since moving to the National Capital Junior Hockey League six years ago.
One-third into the season, the Lions have four wins and nine losses and are on track to exceed the 2017-18 season when the team earned 11 wins.
The Lions hosted their first back-to-back home stand last weekend, maintaining their winning record at home.
First up, the Lions took on the Almonte Inferno, resulting in a 5-4 win for Morrisburg.
The Lions got off to a rocky start in the first period, as the Inferno took a 2-0 lead.
Morrisburg’s top line quickly tied the game in the first four minutes of the second period. Justice Brownlee (from Dean Lapier and Wade Moak) put the Lions on the scoreboard two minutes in. Lapier followed up with his second goal of the season, beating Inferno goalie Nathan Cheung to tie the game.
A fighting penalty mid way through the period bounced both team captains Moak (Morrisburg) and Ryan Rivard (Almonte) from the game. Almonte capitalized with a shorthanded goal less than 30 seconds later. Lions’ forward Jonah Bennis scored the equalizer (from Josh Broad) with three minutes left in the period.
A power-play goal five minutes into the third put the resurgent Inferno back in front 4-3. The Lions rallied late in the third period on a power-play of their own, pulling goalie Ben Cherkas for a two-man advantage in the final minutes of regulation. Coach Lance Hodgson’s gamble paid off as Noelan Spink (from Lapier and Bennis) found the back the Almonte’s net with 58 seconds remaining, sending the game to overtime.
Entering the final minute of overtime, a breakaway by Brownlee resulted in the game winning goal, and the Lions fourth win of the season. Morrisburg beat Almonte 5-4.
The high from the OT win didn’t last long as the North Dundas Rockets arrived in the Morrisburg Arena less than 24 hours later, resulting in an 11-3 loss for the Lions.
The Rockets scored four goals in the first period, five in the second and two in the third in the win. Moak scored twice for the Lions, midway through the first period and a power-play goal early in the third. Reilly Tessier scored late in the third period for the Lions.
Despite the lopsided loss to the Rockets, the Lions maintain a winning record at home with three wins, two losses for the season.
Next up, Morrisburg will host their St. Lawrence River rivals, the South Grenville Rangers on November 27. The Rangers are in first place in the NCJHL. Puck drop is at 7:15 p.m. The Vankleek Hill Cougars visit the Lions November 28 with a 2:15 p.m. game start time.
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader