St. Marys takes big step towards a playoff spot last weekend
By Pat Payton
St. Marys Lincolns took a huge step towards a Western Conference playoff spot last weekend, taking five of a possible six points in three back-to-back GOJHL games.
On Saturday night at the PRC, Lincs played their third gruelling game in three nights against one of the top teams in the division. Lincolns dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to Leamington Flyers, but the single point earned maintained St. Marys’ hold on the eighth and final playoff spot.
After last weekend’s action, Lincs (9-25-2-4) sat one point ahead of Strathroy Rockets and just three behind the seventh-place Komoka Kings (10-27-4-3). Lincolns have four games in hand on both teams.
On Tuesday night of this week, Strathroy (10-29-2-3) moved one point ahead of St. Marys again with a 5-2 home-ice win over sixth-place Chatham Maroons.
Lincs’ busy schedule continues this weekend with three games in a four-day stretch.
After playing in Chatham Thursday night, Lincolns have a huge game tonight (Friday, Feb. 9) on Alumni Night when they host Strathroy at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, St. Thomas Stars come to town for a 2:30 p.m. face-off.
Flyers 3 – Lincolns 2
At the PRC last Saturday night, Levi Tetrault’s goal at 2:54 of 4-on-4 overtime gave Flyers the win.
The victory moved Leamington (26-10-4-3) one point behind the second-place LaSalle Vipers (29-13-1-1).
A pair of goals by Griffin Robinson gave Flyers an early 2-0 first-period lead. Lincolns’ Michael Andrews (his 10th) scored before the end of the opening frame. Dalton Bancroft (his 16th on a powerplay) tied it early in the second period.
Overall, Leamington out-shot St. Marys 39-29. Both sides had two shots in OT. Goalie Jacob Hutchings (1-2-1) played well for the Lincs.
Assistant coach Rick O’Donnell said it was a “gutsy” effort by the Lincolns, who were playing their third game in three nights.
“It was a great weekend,” O’Donnell said. “Nobody would have thought we’d get five out of six points.
“It was just a gutsy effort from the kids. We were short-staffed against Leamington, but we played hard. The kids are playing for each other. I’m very proud of our defence, too. They’ve kept it simple and played really well the last three games.”
Lincs, meanwhile, finished with a 2-2-2 record against the Flyers this season, with four of the six games going to overtime.
Lincolns 6 – Legionnaires 5
At the PRC last Friday night, an empty-net goal by defenceman Jake Weston stood up as the winner in a 6-5 Lincolns’ victory over Sarnia Legionnaires.
The victory moved the Lincs one point ahead of Strathroy and into the eighth and final playoff spot.
Weston’s second goal in two games came with 1:02 left on the clock and put Lincs ahead 6-4. Just 10 seconds later, Josh Vale pulled Legionnaires to within a goal, but that’s as close as the visitors would get.
The teams entered the third period tied 4-4. Michael Andrews–named Lincolns’ player-of-the-game–put St. Marys up 5-4 with 6:40 remaining after centre Austin Maietta won a clean draw deep in Sarnia territory.
Lincs’ coach Scott Thompson was pleased to see his team bounce back after letting a 4-1 lead slip away in the second period.
“I think we got a little complacent after we got ahead 4-1,” Thompson said afterwards. “But to the kids’ credit, like we have in the last few games, we battled back and gutted out a couple of wins in row.
“We’ve been getting contributions from everybody, and that’s what it’s going to take to win hockey games. This team and organization has been through a lot this year, and the kids who stuck it out with the team have gone through a lot of trials and tribulations. They’ve taken a big leadership role in the room and are helping the young guys along and they’re getting rewarded for it right now.”
Goals by Dan Cloutier and Ben Maidment gave Lincolns a 2-1 lead by the end of the first period. Vale replied for Sarnia.
Powerplay goals by Michael Andrews and captain Cloutier–just 46 seconds apart–gave St. Marys a 4-1 lead before the middle frame was two minutes old. It was Cloutier’s 12th of the campaign.
However, the Legionnaires refused to quit. They dominated the final 15 minutes of the period and tied it 4-4 on goals by Alex DeKoning, Greg Hay and Brock Perry. Two of the three goals came on powerplays.
After the game, veteran Sarnia coach Mark Davis said he was very disappointed with his team’s overall performance.
“St. Marys played great, and I tip my hat to them, but I can’t say anything good about our team,” Davis said tersely. “We were bloody terrible tonight. We’re fighting for second place, and we just didn’t do the job tonight. There’s no excuse for not competing for all three periods.
“Our practice (Saturday) won’t be pretty. We’re going to work very, very hard at practice tomorrow,” he added.
Evan Morrison picked up the net win for the second night in a row. He finished with 34 saves as Sarnia out-shot St. Marys 39-36. “Morrison has been playing real well for us,” coach Thompson added.
The victory improved Lincs’ record to 2-3 against the fourth-place Legionnaires (24-13-1-5).
Lincolns 4 – Flyers 3 (Overtime)
In Leamington last Thursday night, winger Ben Maidment’s goal at 4:09 of the overtime lifted Lincolns to a 4-3 victory over the Flyers. It came on Lincs’ first shot in the first OT period.
The win gave the Lincolns five of a possible six points on Leamington ice this season. All three of their games at the Kinsmen Recreation Centre went to overtime.
St. Marys travelled to Thursday’s game with just 14 skaters and two goalies.
Goals by Dalton Bancroft and Austin Maietta gave Lincs a 2-0 lead by the midway mark of the game. However, Flyers tied it with two goals–just 35 seconds apart–late in the second period. Jaydon Fetter (powerplay) and Preston Corp were the marksmen.
Fetter put the home team ahead 3-2 at 8:12 of the third, but Lincolns’ Jake Weston tied it again less than two minutes later.
Mitch Bakker and Daniel Aspro assisted on Maidment’s OT winner in the final minute of 4-on-4 OT.
Overall, Leamington out-shot St. Marys 40-22, including 18-6 in the middle frame. Lincs’ Evan Morrison, with 37 saves, earned his first win of the year.