Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte
Playing in his last season of junior C hockey, Picton Pirates captain Devin Morrison knows the end is near.
Win or lose, though, the 21-year-old from Belleville hopes his final game comes in the playoffs rather than because of another shutdown.
“I got beat out by Napanee when I was with Gananoque for a year, but Picton was still in the playoffs in the second round with Napanee and that’s when it got shut down (in March 2020),” Morrison said. “It was tough for some of those guys that I’m playing with now again that they didn’t really have that finish to their season. Last year being completely wiped out and now this year it’s been up-and-down so you never really know what’s going to happen, so just kind of soaking it all in. We have a 10-game schedule (left) in February and March so hoping we can at least get those in and hopefully playoffs.”
Now that provincial restrictions have been lifted, the Pirates are scheduled to host the Frankford Huskies this Thursday evening. Game time is 7:30 p.m. at the Prince Edward Community Centre.
Morrison remained cautiously optimistic when games started getting postponed in December that the season would resume again, but there were still doubts in his mind.
“I was afraid that maybe it was going to get cancelled and I would have my career finish not how I wanted it to be,”he said. “It’s always tough because obviously the aspect of not being able to play hockey is always tough, especially when it’s your last year and time is ticking. You take for granted the practices and hanging out with the guys in your first couple of years in junior, not really thinking about the end of your career. When it’s your last year, those practices and those hangouts off-ice, that becomes a lot more meaningful to you. To not be able to have that in the past couple of years, or have it here and there, it’s been difficult that way. With our team luckily we’ve been able to build chemistry throughout the year.”
This is Morrison’s fourth season with the Pirates. Ideally, he would have played his entire junior career in Picton. He loves the organization and loves the community.
He spent the 2019-2020 season with the former Gananoque Islanders junior team, which is now a senior club in the Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League. It was difficult decision to leave the Pirates, Morrison said, but the proximity to attending school in Kingston made sense when it came to playing in Gananoque.
When the Islanders were sold and became a senior team, Morrison had some control in choosing his next destination. There was never really any doubt, though, where that would be.
“I always wanted to be in Picton. That’s always where my heart was. Being able to come back to where it kind of all started has been a nice little circle for me,” Morrison said.
“It’s been really meaningful to me (to play in Picton). I know they’re an organization we always want to develop players and go on to junior A programs and a lot of players have gone on to do that. I’ve been able to ‘AP’ with Wellington, but for me I’ve just loved the organization so much in the way that they’ve treated me. They’ve always been great with me and been great as an organization with players. They’ve always been a really inclusive organization and they’re going to work around people’s schedules and make everyone feel included no matter what. That comes with winning hockey games, too, so there’s a standard as well and that standard needs to be met. There’s expectations, but it creates an amazing environment that I’ve always loved to be around.”
Growing up, Morrison played A and AA hockey for the Belleville Jr. Bulls and also spent three seasons with the Quinte Red Devils AAA organization.
In five seasons in the Provincial Junior Hockey League, Morrison has played in 180 games and registered 68 goals, 74 assists for 142 points. He would’ve had a sixth season had last year not being wiped out. He has five goals and 17 assists this season with the Pirates.
Not one of the bigger players – he’s been listed at 5-foot-8, 143 points – Morrison has always tried to model his game after Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens.
“He might not be the biggest guy, but you definitely still want to be the chippiest and still go into every battle like you’re the same size and you know that you’re going to come out with the puck,” Morrison said. “I grew up with that mentality and it kind of blossomed into me being more of a 200-foot player. I’m a good defensive player, but that also turned into being able to play with super-talented guys along my wing. Them being able to put the puck in the net, I pride myself on 200-foot, but also a playmaker. I might not be scoring the most goals, but I feel like I’m able to provide for linemates and that’s where you see the point production still always is up there for sure.”
Morrison is set to graduate from the business marketing program at St. Lawrence College this spring. He hopes to combine his education and love of hockey in the future with a career in sports marketing.
“I always want to be around the game no matter what after even though I’m not playing,” he said. “Something I know I’m definitely going to miss is the interactions with teammates and the friends that you meet along the way. All of my best friends are people that I’ve grown up playing hockey with.
“Hockey has created some great memories, but going forward I would love to stick around hockey because of that. Being able to teach younger people is something that I would love to do in the future.”
For now, his attention is on finishing the regular season strong and hoping for playoff success.
“I’m hoping now, with a couple additions to our team and such, we’ll be able to have a nice deep run in the playoffs,” Morrison said. “With my last run, I obviously want it to be special, that’s for sure.”