By Dan Rankin
A couple of defensive lapses by the Lincolns were the difference between the wins they were after and the regulation losses they were handed by Sarnia (4-2-0-0) and Strathroy (2-2-1-0) last weekend.
Last Friday at the Pyramid Centre, the Lincolns got an early lead with a first period power play goal by Tyson Kielt, assisted by Alessio Luciani and Brandon Glover. They also book-ended the game by scoring another goal with the man advantage, with Tanner Hertel doing the honours and Glover chipping in with his second helper of the game. Justin Vandendool also had an assist on the play.
Unfortunately, in between those two goals, Sarnia scored three of their own. The first Legionnaires goal to tie the game came following a Paul Lee slashing penalty late in the first. In the second, Sarnia’s Brett Storr claimed the lead for his team with an unassisted effort. About four minutes later, with St. Marys on the power play, Sarnia’s Hunter Tyczynski shocked the home crowd by burying a shorthanded goal – the first allowed by the Lincolns this season. In the second frame, the Legionnaires outshot St. Marys by the lopsided margin of 18-4.
St. Marys poured on the shots in the third, but Hertel’s lone marker was not enough to draw even and the Lincoln’s fell 3-2. Lincs goalie Tristan Lewis faced 39 shots, stopping 36.
Facing the Rockets two nights later in Strathroy, St. Marys found themselves down 1-0 and on the penalty kill late in the first period. But, offensively-gifted forward Bill Moskal was back in the lineup Sunday, and he made his presence felt early. This time it was the Lincolns capitalizing with a shorthanded marker as, with just over three minutes left in the first, Moskal buried one past Rockets goalie Dan Davies to tie the game. Glover, who had an assist on the play, finished the game with a goal and two assists, giving him five points for the weekend and a team-leading 14 in his first six games. Emotions ran high through the opening frame, as Vandendool and Dylan Nafziger were both ejected for fighting, along with Rockets Jeff Williams and Evan Hogg. Colin Capstick would also later be given the hook for a fight in the third period.
The teams traded goals in the second period as well, with Glover and Kielt assisting on a goal by Lee. A couple of minutes later, St. Marys’ penalty woes caught up with them as the Rockets evened the game on the power play. Strathroy had nine power play opportunities in the game but only managed to convert one of them into a goal. The Lincolns went 0-6 on the power play.
Glover’s unassisted goal early in the third reclaimed the lead for St. Marys, who outshot the Rockets 17-12 in the last period. But it was a pair of quick Strathroy goals midway through the period, moments after the game’s third fight, that would decide the game. The Rockets skated away with the 4-3 win. Lewis made 31 saves in the loss.
The Lincolns will line up with a pair of Western division rivals for the first time this season over the weekend. The Leamington Flyers (3-2-0-1), who led the division in wins last season before sweeping St. Marys from the playoffs, visit the Pyramid Centre tonight for a game that gets underway at 7:30 pm. Then on Sunday, the Lincolns travel to Chatham to play the Maroons (2-3-0-0).