By Dan Rankin
Last weekend, the St. Marys Lincolns (2-2-0-0) hosted the top two teams in the conference, skating away with a regulation win over St. Thomas (3-1-0-1), and coming within two minutes of forcing overtime against a tough squad from London (4-1-0-0).
Sunday against St. Thomas, it was the Lincolns who handed the second-place Stars their first regulation loss of the season, as a five-goal second period powered St. Marys to a 7-5 victory.
After an opening 20 minutes that saw St. Marys outshot 10-7 and outscored 2-0, the Lincolns regrouped for the second frame. Ten St. Marys skaters tallied points on the five goals notched in the second, with four coming in the period’s final five minutes. The line of Bill Moskal, Brandon Glover and Justin Vandenpool connected for a pair of goals in the frame, first tying it at 3-3 on a goal by Glover with just over three minutes left. Then, Moskal found the puck in front of the net at the 18:50 mark, and his backhand put St. Marys up 5-4 going into the third.
Also keeping the scorer’s table busy in the second was St. Marys’ Paul Lee, who netted the only power play goal of the game, for either team, assisted by Brody Smith.
The Stars answered back to tie the game early in the third, but St. Marys wasn’t done scoring yet. They reached six goals in a game for the second time this season at 11:49 of the third, when Lee and Matthew Zilke set up a play for Alessio Luciani. Moskal padded the lead with his second goal of the game, an empty netter with 11 seconds left assisted by goalie Tristan Lewis, to seal the 7-5 win. Lewis had 23 saves in the win.
The Lincolns scored six or more goals in a game just twice last season. They’ve already reached that mark just four games into the 2016-2017 season.
Two nights earlier, over 400 people were in attendance to check out the Lincolns’ home opener against the 2015-2016 Western Conference champion London Nationals. It was a back-and-forth affair that was knotted 3-3 late in the third, leaving many expecting to see overtime. London’s high-scoring forward Brenden Trottier had other ideas, though, as he gave his team the lead with just over two minutes left, before depositing the puck in the Lincolns’ empty net for the 5-3 win. Trottier had two goals and two assists in the win.
Vandenpool and Glover each had a goal and an assist for St. Marys. Through four games, Glover leads the team with six goals and nine points.
London’s first three goals came on the man advantage Friday, as they found themselves with 13 power play opportunities to the Lincolns’ four. “Our team is a hard-working team that has, unfortunately, been too much on the defence,” Lincs GM Glen Childerley told the Independent. “We are 85 percent successful in killing penalties off. The coaches are always stressing the importance of team discipline, and we will continue to work on that so that we switch our focus more to offence.”
As a result, London also had a strong advantage in shots, peppering the St. Marys net with 48 shots. Lewis faced 47 of them and put up a valiant effort, stopping 43.
St. Marys continues its home stand tonight when they host the Sarnia Legionnaires (2-2-0-0) at 7:30 pm. Tomorrow night, the Lincolns face the Rockets in Strathroy (1-2-1-0) for a 7:30 pm puckdrop.