St. Marys will miss Western Conference playoffs
By Pat Payton
ST. THOMAS – St. Marys Lincolns’ turbulent 2017-18 season came to a end here Sunday night. Lincs lost their fourth consecutive game–in a five-day stretch–a 9-2 decision to the home-town Stars.
Lincs were officially eliminated from the Western Conference playoffs Saturday night when they lost 6-3 on home ice to LaSalle Vipers. The same night, Strathroy Rockets (11-32-2-5) gained the eighth and final playoff spot when they picked up a point in a 6-5 overtime loss to the visiting Sarnia Legionnaires.
For St. Marys, it deemed Sunday’s game at the Timken Rink meaningless.
Stars built period leads of 3-0 and 7-2. Russell Oldham paced the St. Thomas attack with three goals, while Kevin Hu had two goals and Adam Keyes collected a goal and four assists.
Affiliate player Dylan Vandersleen and Shaun General scored for the Lincolns.
Goalies Evan Morrison and Jacob Hutchings each played 30 minutes for the Lincs, who travelled to the game with just 14 skaters and two netminders.
Stars (29-16-3-2) finished in fifth place, one point behind Sarnia. For the Lincolns (10-33-2-5), they had a dismal record of 1-8-0-2 in their final 11 games in February.
Vipers 6 – Lincolns 3
At the PRC Saturday night, Lincolns were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs after losing to LaSalle. Vipers, meanwhile, guaranteed themselves third place with the win.
LaSalle did most of the damage in the first period, racing out to a 5-0 lead by the end of 20 minutes. Affiliate goalie Kevin Linker replaced Lincs’ starter Jacob Hutchings after the first period.
Michael Andrews finally got St. Marys on the board late in the second period. Andrews (with his 14th) narrowed the margin to 5-2 just 40 seconds into the third, and then Austin Maietta made things interesting when he scored a shorthanded marker at 11:35.
Vipers’ Kory Silverio scored a powerplay empty-netter with 22 seconds remaining to wrap things up. It was Silverio’s second goal of the game.
Overall, LaSalle out-shot the Lincolns 47-32.
Kings 4 – Lincolns 1
At the PRC last Friday night, Komoka Kings clinched seventh place with a 4-1 victory over the Lincolns in front of an estimated 400 spectators.
It was a must-win situation for the Lincs, but they didn’t get the start they were looking for. Kings jumped out to a 2-0 lead, with Joel Mazzilli (powerplay) and Wes Dobbin scoring goals late in the first period. Dalton Bancroft (his 21st) scored on a powerplay in the final minute of the period, giving Lincolns new life.
However, Lincs couldn’t get another puck past goalie Avery Hartwick. After a scoreless second period, Kings sealed the win with two goals in the final six minutes of the third. Isaac McLean and Dobbin (into an empty net with 1:29 left) were the marksmen.
“The last few games, our first periods haven’t been good,” coach Scott Thompson said in a quiet Lincolns’ dressing room. “For whatever reason, the guys haven’t been ready to go. Maybe they’re running on fumes right now. For the last couple of months, we’ve been playing with short line-ups and it’s starting to take its toll on the boys.
“We battled for a good chunk of tonight’s game, but it got away from us in the third. We’re a hard-working team with not a ton of skill. It’s unfortunate that we’re not getting the bounces . . . we really have to work for our goals.”
Overall, Komoka out-shot St. Marys 30-20, including 14-4 in the final 20 minutes. Big lefthander Jacob Hutchings, who played well, took the net loss for the Lincolns.
“We haven’t won many games on the road this season, but tonight we really focused on being ready and getting a good start,” Kings’ coach Brian Dobbin said. “We wanted to out-work the other team, and tonight we did. It was unusual because St. Marys is a hard-working team and well-coached.
“We wanted to make the playoffs and walk in the front door. It was a good team effort and all the credit goes to the players. It’s a good feeling for this team.”
With the win, Komoka (12-31-4-3) evened the season series between the two teams at 3-3. It was only the Kings’ fourth road win of the campaign.
Vipers 7 – Lincolns 1
In LaSalle last Wednesday night, Vipers raced out to a 4-0 first-period lead en route to a 7-1 victory over the Lincolns.
Shaun General scored Lincs’ lone goal on a powerplay early in the second period, closing the gap to 4-1.
Eric Kirby and Evan Ferguson scored two goals apiece for LaSalle. Vipers out-shot the Lincolns 33-14, including 17-6 in the opening 20 minutes.