Captain Butchart has six-point night for St. Marys last Friday
By Pat Payton
Five unanswered third-period goals powered St. Marys Lincolns to an 8-4 victory over Strathroy Rockets last Friday night at the PRC.
With three regulars sitting out with suspensions, it was a huge win for the Lincs (3-6) who temporarily moved four points ahead of the last-place Rockets (1-7) in the Western Conference standings.
“Teams like Strathroy and Komoka, they are teams we have to use as measuring sticks,” coach Trent McClement said after the game. “If we want to show that we’ve improved and we’re changing the culture here, we have to stay ahead of those teams in the standings.
“We still have a lot of work to do, but I think the boys are willing to bring the work boots and continue to improve and get better.”
Goals by Justin McIntyre, Joe Mazur and Blair Butchart gave the Lincolns leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 by the midway point in the game. However, Rockets scored twice in the final 78 seconds of the second period and carried a 4-3 advantage into the final 20 minutes.
“It was a little frustrating because we could have gotten out of that period with a lead,” McClement pointed out. “Strathroy tied it and then got the late one to put us behind. Everyone knew the game was on the line. If you lose this game, you’re in last place. We realized that, and it’s something that kind of fuelled us.
“I think we’re too good of a hockey team to be down there in the standings.”
Captain leads the charge
Leading the charge in the third was captain Butchart, who assisted on all five St. Marys goals.
Josh Martin (his fifth) tied it 4-4 at 7:23, and then veteran Tanner Hertel fired what proved to be the winner just over a minute later. A pair of late goals by Mason Goldie, one into an empty net, extended the Lincs’ lead to 7-4 and then Carson McMillan completed the scoring in the final minute.
After grabbing the lead in the third, goalie Justin Richer made four or five key saves to keep his team in front. Following the game, Richer (2-3) was awarded the Tim Hortons’ player-of-the-game.
“In the third period, we kept it simple,” McClement explained. “We just pushed pucks, finished our checks, and threw pucks to the net. That’s when good things happen.
“We just have to realize all the little things that we have to do. I told the boys after the game that when we play the right way, we’re a hard hockey team to play against.”
Butchart finished the night with six points, while Martin and McMillan both had a goal and three assists. Goldie contributed three points.
Speedy centre Max Ewart had a hat trick for Strathroy.
With two defencemen suspended the previous night, Lincs called up affiliate players Tyler Alexander and Alexander Bikos.
Legionnaires 7 – Lincolns 3
At the Sarnia Arena Thursday night, Lincolns fought back from an early two-goal deficit to tie the score 3-3 midway through the second period. However, the home-town Legionnaires scored the game’s final four goals to claim a 7-3 victory in front of an announced crowd of just over 1,200 spectators.
It was Lincs’ fourth consecutive road loss.
Captain Alec DeKoning led the way for the Legionnaires with four goals, including the winner. Five of the game’s 10 goals came on powerplays.
DeKoning and Lincolns’ forward Josh Martin traded powerplay goals in the first seven minutes of the opening period. Goals by Jon Sanderson and DeKoning–just 45 seconds apart–put Sarnia ahead 3-1 midway through the frame.
Lincs tied it 3-3 on goals by Joe Mazur and Martin (powerplay) before the 10-minute mark of the second period. However, DeKoning connected again with just 1:24 left in the period to put Legionnaires ahead to stay.
In the third, Sanderson, DeKoning and Brendan Kennette (powerplay) tacked on insurance goals for the home team.
With just under two minutes to play, five players were ejected with fighting majors on the same stoppage. As a result, Lincolns’ forward Carter Schoonderwoerd (one game) and defencemen Reid Ramseyer and Jake Weston (both two games) were handed suspensions, along with two Sarnia players.
A total of 75 penalty minutes were called, including 39 to the Legionnaires.
Sarnia, which improved to 5-2, finished with a 37-36 edge in shots. St. Marys held a 30-25 advantage over the final 40 minutes.
Upcoming: Lincolns return to action this Friday, hosting Komoka Kings at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, Lincs travel to St. Thomas to face the Stars at 7:30 p.m.
Next Wednesday, Lincolns are in London to play the first-place Nationals at 7 o’clock.