The West Nipissing Lynx are off to a good start this season and are looking strong under head coach Moe Mantha Jr., with lots of local talent on board.
The team played their first game to a sold-out crowd at the Sturgeon Falls arena on Friday, Sept. 15. They made a valiant charge against the Ville-Marie Pirates, but ultimately lost 5-3 after a penalty-filled and hard-fought game. Alexandre Dubuc, Matthias Weistche and Deanthony Bendall put the Lynx on the scoreboard.
The excitement in the arena was palpable as fans cheered loudly. The Lynx used the season opener to introduce their new team mascot, who was on the ice for the official puck drop. The mascot does not yet have a name, as there are plans to hold a naming contest in the near future.
After their disappointing loss, the Lynx gathered up their courage and headed to Temiscaming the very next day for a match-up against their archrivals, the Titans. It was a fast-paced, close game and the Lynx pulled off a 5-4 win. The newly formed offensive line of Dubuc, Weistche and Carson Laronde led the way with 8 points. Laronde scored two goals while Weistche, Zach Major and Stephane Philion added one each for the win.
The next confrontation came Friday, Sept. 22 at home, where the Lynx trounced the Almaguin Spartans, 10 to 1, in front of another packed arena. “The Lynx organization were happy to see the arena packed [with] the largest crowd we have had in 8 years and are extremely proud to see everyone in our community supporting our talented club,” the management posted on social media after the game. The coaching staff noted that the team really came together as a unit for this game. Once again, the formidable Weistche/Dubuc/Laronde lineup combined for 11 points (4 goals and 7 assists). New recruit Tyler Brunet netted his first Junior goal, assisted by his brother Riley Brunet, to the excitement of local fans. Riley Brunet also scored two with Nathan Fisher, Blake Barber and Caleb McLaughlin each adding one.
The Lynx were back on the road on Sunday, Sept. 24 to face the Bradford Rattlers, with brand new recruit Vladislav Morozyuk in net. The team had “a sluggish start” according to management, ending the first period down 3-0. They rallied back in the second, making it 3-2. However things went downhill in the third as the Rattlers fired off 3 unanswered goals for a 6-2 win. Despite the loss, the coaching staff was pleased with their new goaltender, saying “the final score doesn’t dictate the hard work shown by this young goaltender,” adding that he made some saves worthy of a highlights reel. The two Lynx goals came courtesy of Carson Laronde and Deanthony Bendall.
The Lynx are back in action this Saturday in Sturgeon Falls, and will dedicate their game against the Ville Marie Pirates to residential school survivors, as a way to highlight the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30. Free tickets were offered to members of Nipissing First Nation, which will no doubt lead to another big crowd of supporters. Next month will see home games played Oct. 7, 20, 21, and 28, with four away games on the schedule as well.
Lots of local talent this season
The team has been taking shape over the summer with many new additions, including several local players, as well as returning veterans.