Home opener this Friday against LaSalle Vipers
By Pat Payton
St. Marys Lincolns are very young, that’s no secret. They ice a squad with nine 17-year-olds and three 16-year-olds heading into the GOJHL regular season this week.
But Lincs possess a lot of speed, and they have a group of talented, offensive-minded forwards and two solid goaltenders. Director of Hockey Operations Jim MacEachern believes the fans will enjoy watching the 2018-19 edition of the green and white.
“We’ve been honest from the beginning,” MacEachern told the newspaper last week. “We’re very young, and it’s going to be a process, but we like our group here. We’re going to have some tough nights, but we’re also going to have some good nights.
“I think we’re going to be a fast, exciting and a competitive team. We’re going to work hard every night, and at the end of the day that goes a long way in hockey. If you’re willing to compete, good things will always happen.”
Lincs’ season opener is this Thursday in Leamington against the Flyers at 7:10 p.m. Their home opener is the next night when LaSalle Vipers come to the PRC for a 7:30 p.m. face-off.
Looking for two defencemen
Last week, Lincolns were still looking for a couple of defencemen, and another forward. Coach Trent McClement thought the team would likely start the 48-game regular schedule with 21 players.
“We’re not panicking though because at this time of the year there’s still a lot of kids floating around looking for a spot,” McClement said. “Because the NHL hasn’t started their training camps yet, some of the OHL teams tend to keep kids around a little longer.
“So we’re being patient right now. We have a couple of defencemen in camp who we’re looking at, and we’re looking at a couple of forwards as well.
“We’re looking for the right fit. We think we have a good dressing room with our group of young guys. We want to make sure that the players we bring in are the right fit and everyone jells as a team. I think it’s important that this team jells and plays for each other, and that’s what we have right now.”
McClement also noted that he’d like to “utilize” a number of good young affiliate players.
“We have a lot of good young APs and if you can get them into games, give them ice time and treat them well, then they’ll want to play here next year,” he said.
Lincs start with tough schedule
McClement acknowledged that it could be baptism by fire for his young squad as Lincolns play some of the projected top teams in the division right off the bat. In the month of September, Lincs play Leamington and London twice as well as LaSalle and St. Thomas.
“I’m looking forward to that first Leamington game (this Thursday) because Leamington is always a good team and I’m interested how my team stacks up,” he said.
“It’s a tough start for a rookie coach and a lot of rookie players, but at the end of the day it could be a good measuring stick. The boys will see where they are in the league. It could be a little eye-opener and it might show the boys that they have to work harder in practice and harder as a team.
“I think by December, this team is going to surprise some people. But like any young team, it’s going to take some time.”
Junior hockey notebook:
–Lincolns’ newest signing is forward Carson Gebauer, a 17-year-old forward from Waterloo who played for Jim MacEachern’s Major Midget Wolves last season.
The 6 ft., 1 inch, 180 lb. Gebauer picked up 30 regular-season points and 35 penalty minutes a year ago.
–Jim MacEachern confirmed last week that forward Griffin Wilson, 17, has signed with Owen Sound Attack after attending their OHL training camp. The big forward, from Elora, played for the Huron-Perth ‘AAA’ Major Midgets last season.
“We’re very excited that he was able to make Owen Sound,” the Director of Hockey Operations said. “Obviously, we were able to identify a pretty good player. We wish he would have been here (in St. Marys), but congratulations to him.
“That’s what we want to do, and that’s move players on to a higher level. Yes, we want to win, 150 per cent, but it’s nice to see kids go to another level in hockey.”
–MacEachern also told the newspaper that Lincs have traded the rights to forward Michael Andrews to Leamington for cash. Andrews is a Windsor Spitfires’ draft choice.
The 17-year-old Trenton native clicked for 14 goals and 25 points in 28 games after joining St. Marys midway through last season.
–Derek Di Muzio is the new head coach of Sarnia Legionnaires. He was an assistant coach with the team the past two years.
Di Muzio replaces long-time coach Mark Davis, of Corunna, who guided Legionnaires the past three seasons. Sarnia was eliminated in the first round of playoffs each of the last three years.