By Spencer Seymour
The Lincolns played out the majority of the rest of their season in the past few days, with four games out of the five they played this week being on the road. St. Marys came away with just one victory, but remains four points ahead of Lambton Shores for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. St. Marys (9-35-1-3) has a game tonight and one Sunday, while the Predators (7-36-1-3) close their season with games the next three nights.
It started last Thursday when the Lincolns took a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of the Stars in St. Thomas. St. Marys opened the scoring with Nolan King’s power play marker, with assists coming from Jeff Schrattner and leading scorer Brent House. The Stars would answer back just a couple minutes later, evening up the game at 1-1. St. Thomas didn’t look back, as they would score five more unanswered goals. Emanuel Vella made 49 saves on the 55 shots that were directed his way.
St. Marys returned home on Friday and suffered a 4-3 loss at the hands of the Lambton Shores Predators. King again opened the scoring for the Lincolns on the power play, with an assist from Graham Brulotte and Ryan Martin. The Predators would respond just under ten minutes later with a power play goal to tie the game at one. Lambton Shores scored two of their next three goals on the power play, leading the Predators to the victory. Vella faced yet another barrage of shots, stopping 37 of the Predators’ 41 shots on goal.
Sunday, the Lincolns had a tough challenge as they travelled to Leamington to take on their potential playoff opponents, the powerhouse Flyers. Through the first ten minutes of the game, it looked like it was going to be a long night for the Flyers, as St. Marys jumped out to a commanding 3-0 lead. However, like a switch was flipped, the halfway mark of the opening period hit and the momentum all seemed to change. By the end of the period, Leamington had evened up the game at 3-3. The Flyers came out in the second and continued to dominate, scoring three more goals. They would add one more in the third period and defeat the Lincolns 7-3. Again, Vella was kept busy in the St. Marys crease, stopping 49 of 56 shots thrown at him by the Flyers.
The Lincolns ended their six-game losing streak Tuesday, picking up a 6-4 victory over the Rockets in Strathroy. House and Brulotte scored in the first period, giving St. Marys an early 2-0 lead. The Rockets replied with a goal of their own to go into the first intermission down 2-1. In the second frame, Martin and House scored power play goals, however, Strathroy would score two of their own to make it 4-3 for St. Marys going into the third period. Schrattner scored just 48 seconds into the final frame to increase the lead to two. Strathroy scored again to draw within one once more, before King potted an empty netter to seal the deal for St. Marys. House and King both finished the game with five points, while Vella had another very heavy workload. He faced 49 shots from the sticks of the Rockets, making 45 saves.
St. Marys wasn’t able to carry that momentum over to their game the following night versus the Nationals, however, as they fell 4-1 in London.
They held the Nats off the score sheet until the second period, when London scored three goals in the span of 10 minutes. St. Marys was held off the board themselves until Schrattner buried one with just under three minutes remaining, with Mike Tuffin and Tom McHenry picking up assists. London went on to add an empty netter less than a minute later to seal the deal. Vella stopped 40 of the 43 shots he faced.
The Lincolns will conclude their season this weekend, as they get a shot at redemption as they host the Leamington Flyers tonight at 7:30 pm at the Pyramid Centre. They’ll then get back on the bus and head to Chatham to face off against the Maroons for their final game of the season on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 7:00 pm.