Morrisburg Jr. Lions change coaching bench

MORRISBURG – Barely one-third of the way through the 2022-23 National Capital Junior Hockey League season, the Morrisburg Jr. Lions have changed key personnel on the bench.

The Lions announced last week that Head Coach Lance Hodgson and Assistant Coach Jeff Hyndman were relieved of their duties.

Hodgson had served on the team’s bench since 2018 – first as Assistant Coach to Ken Turnbull, then promoted to Head Coach in 2020. Hyndman joined the organization in 2020. The Lions reached the 2021-22 NCJHL playoffs for the first time in four years under the coaching duo, finishing seventh in the regular season. Morrisburg pushed the South Grenville Rangers to a fifth and deciding game in the first round of the playoffs but did not advance past there.

Hyndman told The Leader, “I enjoyed my time coaching there and wish them success in the future.”

Hodgson declined the opportunity to comment.

“We would like to thank Lance and Jeff for their continued dedication to our organization over the course of the past few seasons, but felt it was time this organization and team went in a different direction,” said General Manager Cody Casselman.

The team named Casselman as the new Head Coach. He will also retain the GM role with the organization.

Joining him on the bench are Steve Iwachniuk as associate head coach. Iwachniuk, 44, played four seasons with the Cornwall Colts in Junior A hockey in the mid-1990s. He was drafted by the Sudbury Wolves in the OHL in 1995 and played for parts of two seasons with the club. He later joined the Morrisburg Lions and played for two seasons with the club, where he ended his playing career. He was named to the South Stormont Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.

Justin Shay, who has been an assistant coach since last season will stay with the hockey club in that role. Shay played two seasons for the North Dundas Rockets, followed by two seasons in the Winchester Hawks and Morrisburg Lions organizations.

Also joining the team is Jamie Smith, who has the dual role of assistant coach and scout. Smith played for the Morrisburg Lions in the 1980s and has coached in the South Dundas Lions minor hockey organization for many years, including serving on its board of directors as Rules and Discipline Director and the organization’s head coach.

A late addition to the coaching roster is Wayne Distotell as a Skill Development coach. Chris Harrington remains head trainer and equipment manager for the team.

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader