Morrisburg Jr. Lions begin 2023 with two wins

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

MORRISBURG – The Morrisburg Lions strung together a pair of back-to-back wins to begin the final third of their 2022-23 season.  The Lions defeated the Metcalfe Jets 7-1 on January 6, and the Almonte Inferno 9-1 on January 7. A visit to the Vankleek Hill Cougars, who the team is chasing for sixth place, resulted in an 8-1 loss for the team on January 8.

Against the Jets, the Lions took a 2-1 lead in the first period and did not look back, scoring three goals in the second period and two more in the third.

New signer Ben Lapier made an immediate impact for the Lions, scoring twice and assisting twice. Forwards Justice Brownlee and Keon Troccolli-Roik each scored twice, Brownlee with a power play and a short handed goal against the hapless Jets.

At home on January 7, the Lions built on a first period 3-0 lead by scoring three goals each in the second and third periods. A late goal in the third period spoiled the shut out attempt by goalie Andrew Brooks.

Morrisburg’s penalty kill improved in the game, scoring two short handed goals, both in the first period.

Alex Bergeron scored a hat trick in the game, Rylan Iwachniuk scored twice, Josh Price, Jakob Bennett, Troccolli-Roik, and Lapier each scored once.  Connor Manderson and Troccolli-Roik were playmakers of the game, each with a trio of assists for the Lions.

After two wins in two days, the Lions played the league’s late game on January 8 in Hawkesbury against the Vankleek Hill Cougars. The Lions are chasing the Cougars for sixth place in the league standings, making the game essentially a four-pointer for Morrisburg.

Vankleek Hill came out swinging, scoring twice in the first period while shutting down Morrisburg’s offence.

Alex Bergeron (from Bennett) scored in the second period to keep the Lions in the game. Vankleek Hill had extended their lead to 4-1 by the end of the second period. The Cougars continued on, scoring four unanswered goals in the third period, handing Morrisburg their first loss of 2023. The Lions remain in seventh place in the National Capital Junior Hockey League with a record of eight wins, 14 losses and two overtime losses for 18 points. They remain seven points behind the Cougars, and four points ahead of the Westport Rideaus.

Going towards the playoffs, nine of their final 12 regular season games are against top five teams in the league. On January 14, Morrisburg will host the Gatineau Hull-Volant – that game starts at at 7:15 p.m. The team will then travel to St. Isidore on January 15 to take on the Eagles.

Morrisburg Jr. Lions add two players

A pair of Williamsburg hockey players have been signed by the Morrisburg Jr. Lions as the team looks to make a run up the standings in the National Capital Junior Hockey League.

Ben Lapier, 20, joined the Lions from the Cornwall Colts in the CCHL. The right-shooting forward was drafted in the 2018 CCHL Bantam Select Draft by the Kemptville ‘73s. He spent two seasons with Kemptville’s U18 AAA team with short stints playing for the Winchester Hawks (EOJHL) and ‘73s (CCHL) teams.

In 2021-22, Lapier played 22 games with the ‘73s before being traded to the Cornwall Colts. Twenty-five games into the 2022-23 season with the Colts, Lapier had five goals and five assists before the move to the Lions organization.

Rejoining the Lions is defenceman Kayne McCadden, who is also a product of the same 2018 CCHL Bantam Select Draft that Lapier was.

McCadden, 20, played two seasons with the organization and initially joined the Lions in the 2019-20 season. He also played eight games with the Char-Lan Rebels (EOJHL). He played 10 games with Morrisburg during the pandemic-modified 2021-22 season.

“It’s a huge addition to add two players of Ben’s and Kayne’s talent level. But it makes it more special when both are local South Dundas graduates,” said Lions’ General Manager and Head Coach Cody Casselman. “Their decisions to return and play junior hockey in their home community is what makes junior hockey special.”

Casselman added that both players will be an integral part of the roster for this and next season.

“We are excited to have them both on board going forward.”

He also pointed to the family connection. Ben Lapier’s brother Dean is captain of the Lions this season – his last season of eligibility in junior hockey.

“For Ben to make the decision to return to play at home with his brother will mean life long memories,” Casselman said.

Lions’ top scoring team in NCJHL

Two-thirds of the way through the 36-game National Capital Junior Hockey League season, the Morrisburg Lions are the top scoring team with three of the top five scoring players this season.

The Lions may sit in seventh place in the league standings, they are first overall in goals for, scoring 126 this season.

That goal-scoring effort has been lead by Keon Troccolli-Roik, who has found the back of the net a league-leading 35 times. He leads the goal-scoring race and has the third highest points total in the league with 59.

Troccolli-Roik is in good company, as the fourth and fifth highest points total belong to Morrisburg forwards Justice Brownlee (21 goals, 21 assists) and Rylan Iwachniuk (nine goals, 33 assists).

Gatineau Hull-Volant forward Étienne Champagne leads the points race with 65 (31 goals, 34 assists). Clarence Castors’ forward Nicholas Gaumond is second in the race with 15 goals, 46 assists.

This article was originally published in the Morrisburg Leader.

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