By Pat Payton
St. Marys Lincolns continue to try and improve on their play in their own end of the ice. Coach Trent McClement admits it’s a work in progress.
With 69 seconds left to play in last Friday night’s game against Strathroy, Rockets scored the winning goal after Lincolns got pinned in their own zone for a lengthy period of time.
“We have to learn as a young team, with one minute left and a point on the line, you have to do everything to get the puck out of your own zone and do everything you can to get that point,” McClement said. “Do anything you can to get a stoppage in play and get a re-set.”
To date, Lincs have allowed the most goals (96) in the Western Conference, an average of 4.8 a game.
“It’s our goals-against,” McClement noted at practice Saturday. “I’m a firm believer that if you’re only giving up about three good scoring chances every period, you’re doing a good job. And we’re giving up too many of those. We have to learn that it starts in our own end, that’s the work zone.
“We have to shore it up, and that’s why we’re having all these practices. We want to clean up our defensive zone. We’ve proven we can score, and once we clean up our defensive zone we’re going to be a tough team to play against.”
–Lincolns are short a few key players right now, with veteran defenceman Brett Whitehead and big forward Carter Schoonderwoerd both injured, and winger Carson McMillan serving a three-game suspension.
“That’s hockey, and we just have to suck it up,” coach McClement said. “Everybody has their injuries, and it gives more people a chance to step up and play in situations that they don’t normally play in. It gives other players a chance to prove things.
“As a coaching staff, it gives us a chance to see players in different roles and see what they can do. You have to look at it as the glass half-full and look at the positives, rather than dwell on the injuries.”
–Lincs held their annual Remembrance Day ceremony prior to last Friday’s game against Strathroy. Colour Parties from the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 236, and ANAF, Unit 265, again took part. They were piped on to the ice by Les Brunton.
Representing the Legion were: Veteran and Legion president Tom Jenkins, Veteran Tom Leier, member Steve Gregg and Acting Sgt. At Arms Pete Bushfield.
Representing the ANAF were: ANAF president Roy Maynard, Veteran Peacekeeper George Hayes, Fourth Vice Evelyn Albers and Acting Sgt. At Arms Dave Ellis.
The Last Post and Reveille were performed by Alan Lounds, and Brunton played the Piper’s Lament. Dropping the ceremonial first pucks between the two team captains were Tom Jenkins, Roy Maynard and George Hayes.
–Affiliate skater Sam Sedley saw quite a bit of ice time and played with a lot of poise for the Lincolns in his first-ever Jr. ’B’ game last Friday. The 15-year-old defenceman, from St. Marys, is a member of the Huron-Perth Lakers ‘AAA’ Minor Midgets.
–Lincs injury report.
Lincolns did not have the services of veteran Brett Whitehead this past weekend. The 20-year-old defenceman is “week to week” after breaking a finger blocking a shot during a recent overtime loss to London Nationals.
Rookie forward Carter Schoonderwoerd is going to resume skating in a week and a half, but won’t see game action for another three and a half weeks.
The 16-year-old Mitchell native suffered an upper-body injury during an Oct. 21 home game against St. Thomas Stars. The big winger had nine points in his first 14 games.
–During a recent visit to St. Marys, Chatham Maroons’ head coach Kyle Makaric described the type of team that he has in 2018-19.
“We’ve got a veteran team, a hard-working team,” said Makaric, a former Western Conference player with Chatham who’s in his first season behind the Maroons’ bench. “I love the detail that these guys bring to the rink every night. We’re an offensive team that skates and shoots really well. That’s the type of team that we wanted to build.”
On paper at the beginning of the season, Maroons (11-3-0-2) were picked to be one of the top teams in the conference. So far, they’ve lived up to that billing.
“But there’s a lot of good teams, a lot of good players in this league,” Makaric pointed out. “If you don’t bring your ‘A’ game every night, you can lose. I like the team that we have, but there’s a lot of good teams in our division.”
The second-place Maroons have a strong core of nine players back from last year’s team.
“All the young guys we brought in are really skilled players,” Makaric noted. “On any given night when you show up to watch the Chatham Maroons, you’ll see that we play with good pace, we play with good detail, and we’re a very competitive bunch.”