By Dan Rankin
Photo by Capturing Daze Photography
A tough 6-4 road loss to eighth place Lambton Shores on Saturday has the Lincolns (5-13-0-0) in the basement looking up with just over a third of the 2016-2017 season in the books.
In 16 games since the season-opening showcase, the Lincolns are a respectable 4-3-0-0 against teams who, along with them, are in the bottom half of the conference, including Lambton Shores, St. Thomas, Strathroy and Sarnia. Against the top four teams in the conference (Leamington, London, Chatham and first-place LaSalle), however, the Lincolns are 0-9-0-0.
Because of that, their next three games this month are big ones, in terms of getting back in the pack and hoping to draw a playoff series with anyone other than the Vipers (13-3-0-3). The next three on the docket include a home game against fifth-place Sarnia tonight, followed by a rare Sunday evening tilt at the PRC against seventh-place St. Thomas (who the Lincolns are a perfect 2-0-0-0 against so far this season), and another next Saturday in Strathroy against the sixth-place Rockets. St. Marys recorded wins against each of those teams last month.
That will preclude a series of contests against the conference’s upper echelon later in November, not to mention an uptick in games per week after a lengthy lull that saw them play just three games in 21 days. Including tonight, they can look forward to playing seven more games before December.
Back on Nov. 5, after taking their first Friday night off since early September, St. Marys let the Predators offensive unit get off to an early start, surrendering a goal just 1:02 into the first period. Brandon Glover then tied the game midway through the first frame with his first goal of the night assisted by Tanner Hertel and Chad Heffernan.
Noah Lambe reclaimed the lead for the Predators with his second goal of the period, leaving it 2-1 Lambton Shores through 20 minutes.
Each team tallied a power play goal in the second period, with Heffernan burying the puck for the Lincolns, assisted by Clayton Lewis and Tyson Kielt, to keep his team within one.
Glover’s game-tying power play goal in the third period was his team-leading 12th of the campaign. Glover had a six-game point streak snapped when St. Marys got shutout in an 8-0 drubbing by Leamington Oct. 27, but has already rebounded with multiple points in consecutive games. With 28 points in 18 games so far this season, Glover is scoring at a rate of better than 1.5 points per game.
With just over two minutes left to play in the third, Lewis scored his team’s third power play goal of the night, assisted by Heffernan and Glover, making it 5-4 Lambton Shores. That was as close as it would get, as the Predators slipped the puck in the Lincolns’ empty net with 47 seconds left in regulation to make it 6-4, which stood as the final. Tristan Lewis took the loss in net, stopping 37 of the 42 shots he faced. He was outdueled by the Predators’ Tynan Lauziere who made 39 saves on 43 shots in the win.
It was the third consecutive game the Lincolns allowed at least six goals. In a tough stretch early in October they allowed seven or more goals in three straight contests.
A possibly correlated trend would be the number of Lincolns players racking up lopsided penalty minutes totals. The Lincolns have allowed six or more goals six times this season, losing each time. In each of those games, at least one, but more often two, Lincolns players were assessed at least 12 PIMs. They sit seventh in the GOJHL in time shorthanded, with 105 minutes.
The Lincolns will look to stay out of the sin bin tonight when they host the Sarnia Legionnaires for a Remembrance Day game beginning at 7:30 pm. A Flag Party from the Army & Navy will be a part of the on-ice pre-game ceremonies, including a rendition of the Last Post. The Lincolns are in action at the PRC once more on Sunday at 7:30 pm against St. Thomas.