Huge home games this month against Strathroy, Komoka
By Pat Payton
STRATHROY – February is going to be both busy and interesting for the playoff-seeking St. Marys Lincolns.
Going into the final month of the regular schedule, Lincs still had 13 games to play–the most of any GOJHL team. On three consecutive Friday nights this month, Lincolns host either Strathroy Rockets or Komoka Kings, the two teams just ahead of them in the Western Conference standings.
Following games last weekend, the last-place Lincs (7-25-2-3) sat three points behind the Rockets (9-28-2-2) and five behind the Kings (9-27-4-2). However, St. Marys has five games in hand on both Strathroy and Komoka. (Rockets also played in LaSalle on Wednesday of this week).
Battle Rockets to double-OT tie
At the West Middlesex Memorial Arena here Saturday night, Lincolns kept pace with Strathroy as they battled the Rockets to a 4-4 double-overtime tie.
Lincs held the lead three times, but each time the Rockets came back to tie it.
Goals by Mitch Bakker and Michael Andrews (his seventh) gave St. Marys a 2-1 lead by the end of 20 minutes. Brady MacDonald replied for Strathroy.
Ben Maidment–with his third goal in two games–put Lincolns up 3-1 late in the second period, but Spencer Allen pulled Rockets to within a goal again just 55 seconds later. Michael Wood tied it 3-3 at 3:35 of the third. Shaun General put Lincs ahead 4-3 at 8:29, but Allen tied it again less than two minutes later.
Overall, Strathroy out-shot St. Marys 41-35, including 7-5 in overtime. Goalie Jacob Hutchings made his second straight start for the Lincolns.
There were only three minor penalties called, two to the Rockets.
“It was a good, entertaining game,” Lincs’ assistant Rick O’Donnell reported. “The boys played hard and took the play to them for most of the game. We should have won, and we had our opportunities, but it just didn’t work out. It was just little mistakes.
“Hutchings played very well again and made some big saves. In overtime, it was end-to-end, wide-open hockey, and both teams had their chances to win.”
Maroons 7 – Lincolns 4
In front of about 350 spectators at the PRC last Friday night, Lincolns got high marks for effort in a 7-4 loss to Chatham Maroons.
Trailing 4-1 after two periods, Lincs twice pulled to within a goal in the final 20 minutes. Maroons finally clinched the win with two goals in the last three minutes, including an empty-netter with 53 seconds remaining.
Lincolns had 20 shots in the third–more than the first two periods combined–and with a little luck could have at least earned a point.
“We switched a few things up in the third, and the boys came out with a real good effort,” coach Scott Thompson said. “The offensive side of the puck was good, but we still need a lot of work on the defensive side.
“We have a lot of new bodies, and we need to tighten things up a little bit. But I’m happy with the effort. Going forward, if work on the defensive side of the puck, I think we’ll be okay.”
Winger Ben Maidment–with easily his best game of the season–scored twice for St. Marys. Following the contest, Maidment was named Lincs’ player-of-the-game. The singles went to newcomer Austin Maietta and Dalton Bancroft (his 14th). Bancroft’s breakaway goal left Lincolns trailing by just one (5-4) with still over five minutes to play.
Bryce Yetman’s goal with 2:55 remaining sealed it for sixth-place Chatham (18-20-1-1). The veteran forward completed his hat trick into an empty net in the final minute. Yetman also had two assists for a five-point night. Josh Supryka added two goals and two assists.
Overall, Maroons out-shot the Lincs 41-39, but St. Marys had a 20-11 edge in the third.
“St. Marys didn’t quit, and we had heard that about them,” Chatham coach Ron Horvat said. “We wanted to play a real sound third period, but that didn’t really happen. But we’ll take the two points on the road.
“When they closed it to 5-4, we went with our two veteran lines and four defencemen. Yetman’s line had a real good game tonight and changed the tide for us . . . those three went out and did the job.”
Upcoming: Lincolns have two home games this weekend. They host Sarnia Legionnaires tonight (Friday) and Leamington Flyers Saturday. Both are 7:30 p.m. starting times.
Next Thursday, Feb. 8, St. Marys travels to Chatham for a 7 o’clock face-off.