A whole team effort in the River Lions impressive 92-91 win over the Windsor Express
Written by: Zach Dadson
The Niagara River Lions notched their second win of the season on Tuesday, January 5 by beating the two-time defending champions Windsor Express 92-91.
After both teams finished the first half tied at 46 points, the Express took off in the third quarter and led by 8 going into the fourth. The River Lions’ much improved rebounding and a huge contribution from the team’s bench unit propelled the team to 27 fourth quarter points and lead to the team ultimately winning 92-91. “We did a great job of gang rebounding, which is all five guys going to the glass. I was very impressed and very pleased from that standpoint” Coach Murray reported after the game.
Guards Sammy Zeglinski (18 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists on the night) and Adam Blazek (12 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists) both grabbed an impressive number of rebounds for their position and played a key role in the team’s improved rebounding.
Sammy Zeglinski is currently averaging 10.75 assists per game. No one else in the league averages more than 7 and the former University of Virginia basketball star is making quite the impression on Niagara River Lions fans. Coach Ken Murray has described the point guard position as an extension of the coach on the floor and Zeglinski is doing an excellent job so far this season as the team’s leader on the court. Zeglinski did a particularly good job on Tuesday night of involving everyone in the offense.
Marcus Lewis (20 points, 3 assists) went 7-10 from the field Tuesday night and played an important role in the team’s fourth quarter comeback. “We put up a lot of shots every day and we’re getting in the gym constantly so it’s just good to see that pay off” said Lewis after the game.
All 12 Niagara River Lions entered the game tonight, an intentional move by Coach Murray. “We’ve got to try to build our bench. Look what’s happened with Marcus Lewis. Marcus has surfaced off the bench to be one of our better players right now so I’m going to try to develop a few more guys if I can as the season progresses because you never know when you’re going to need them out there,” Murray said after the game.
Logan Stutz (24 points, 19 rebounds) echoed Coach Murray’s sentiment about the team’s bench unit. “It was great, you know, we’ve got confidence in us, some big guys stepped up. Marcus had a great night, Russ (Conley) came through in the fourth quarter. He (Conley) showed it last game and he earned his minutes. We put him in there in the clutch and he was ready.”
Logan Stutz is currently averaging 27.25 points per game, 12.5 rebounds per game (of which 8.5 are defensive rebounds) and has 5 double doubles (one in each game this season). Stutz leads the league in each of these categories and is arguably an early favourite for league MVP.
When asked about his performance on Tuesday night, Stutz was humble “I’m tired but overall I’m happy with it, but not my best shooting night. They were on me pretty good, I’ll give them some credit, but I missed a couple open ones I’ve got to knock down”.
The River Lions weren’t sure what to expect of their first weeknight crowd but the team was thrilled by the loud, impressive crowd. “It’s good that they came, especially for a first year team we’ve probably got the best turnout of any team in the league for their first year,” Marcus Lewis reported after the game. “For a Tuesday night it was more than I thought and I loved it,” Logan Stutz added.
The River Lions are now 2-3 on the season and face the Windsor Express (3-2) for the third time on Sunday, January 10. The River Lions play their next four games on the road due to the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship that the Meridian Centre is hosting from January 8 – 15. Fans can watch the River Lions’ road games on the team’s YouTube page and can cheer on their team at their next home game on Wednesday, January 20 against the London Lightning.