By Dan Rankin
Before Friday, Dec. 2, the last time the Lincolns played the Western Conference-leading LaSalle Vipers was on Oct. 7. Back then, the Vipers came into the Pyramid Centre as winners of their previous 23 meetings with the Lincolns – a streak of over three years. They left 7-1 victors, making it 24 wins in a row versus St. Marys (8-18-0-1). So, when the Vipers (21-4-0-3) rolled into St. Marys last weekend, they had to be feeling pretty confident that they would pick up win number 25. Instead, the Lincolns shocked the first place squad, jumping out to a 3-0 lead and holding on for a 5-4 victory. It was just the fourth regulation loss of the season for the Vipers, and their first since Oct. 27. Unfortunately, St. Marys was unable to build off of the win, as they suffered their worst loss of the season Wednesday night in London. Brandon Glover scored the only goal of the night for St. Marys, a power play goal in the third period. That stemmed a vicious streak of 11 unanswered goals by the Nationals, who went on to win the game 12-1. After a pair of fairly even 5-3 games between the two squads earlier this season, both of which the Nationals won, London (20-6-1- 0) has won their past two meetings with the Lincolns by a combined score of 20-1. St. Marys’ goaltenders could only stop 36 of the 48 shots they faced, while the team only managed 15 shots of their own, quite a change from last Friday’s game against LaSalle. On that night, after 16 minutes of tight, backand-forth hockey, St. Marys struck first. Glover, the team’s leading scorer, buried a shot past Vipers goalie Dershahn Stewart, assisted by Alessio Luciani and Garrett Nelson. Luciani and Andrew Bogdon chipped in with goals of their own before five minutes had elapsed in the second period, giving the eighth-place Lincolns an early 3-0 lead. The Vipers’ top line responded seconds later, with Liam MacDougall finding Manny Silverio, whose shot found the back of the net to cut the lead to two goals. By the second intermission, the lead had been trimmed again, but St. Marys was still out in front 3-2. Just as they had in the second frame, St. Marys opened the third period by scoring two more unanswered goals, with Glover adding his second of the game, assisted by Tyson Kielt, and Brody Smith potting a solo effort. It was Glover’s 15th goal of the season. Lincolns penalties threatened to erase the 5-2 lead as the team spent most of the second half of the third period in their own end. The Vipers notched their lone goal with the man advantage with seven minutes to play, and then made it a one-goal game with four minutes remaining, but that was as close as they would get. Player of the Game had to be Lincolns goaltender Tristan Lewis, who earned his seventh win of the campaign the hard way, making 46 saves, facing more shots than he had in any other game this season. The Lincolns won despite being outshot 50-27, never trailing despite providing the Vipers with 10 power play opportunities. St. Marys currently sits one point behind seventh place St. Thomas (8-17-1-1). Tonight, St. Marys hosts last place Lambton Shores (6- 19-0-3), with puck drop at the Pyramid Centre scheduled for 7:30 pm.