Lincs now sit three points out of a playoff spot
By Pat Payton
KOMOKA – It’s been a tough month for St. Marys Lincolns.
The Lincs lost their fourth straight game here Saturday night, 4-2 to the home-town Kings, and are now 1-6-1 in November. Hitting the midway mark of the regular schedule this past weekend, St. Marys has also slipped into last place in the Western Conference with a 7-16-0-1 record.
Kings 4 – Lincolns 2
Lincolns went into Saturday’s game just one point behind Komoka, a team they will likely fight for a playoff spot with. However, Lincs lost for the third straight time to the Kings and now sit three points behind Komoka and Strathroy Rockets, who are both 9-13-0-0 in the standings.
Things started well for Lincolns as they grabbed a 2-0 first-period lead on goals by Mason Goldie (his seventh) and defenceman Brett Whitehead (his fifth).
The momentum swung to Komoka when Lincs took four consecutive minor penalties and Kings scored three powerplay goals in the last 10 minutes of the second period. The goal scorers were Jacob Rochford, Blake McConnell-Barker and veteran Joel Mazzilli.
“We ran into penalty troubles,” Lincolns’ assistant GM Greg Smale reported.
It stayed 3-2 for Komoka until Cameron Welch clinched the win for the home team with 16 seconds left in the third.
Kings finished with a 30-21 edge in shots. Goalie Justin Richer (5-7) went the distance for St. Marys.
Vipers 6 – Lincolns 4
Going into Friday night’s game at the PRC, only two points separated the bottom four teams in the tight West standings. Lincolns sat two points behind LaSalle, with a chance to pull into a tie with the Vipers with a home-ice victory.
In an intense, hard-fought battle, LaSalle scored the first three goals of the third period and then hung on for a 6-4 victory.
“I thought we played a solid 60 minutes on the road tonight,” Vipers’ coach John Nelson said. “To come here and beat St. Marys is a great win for any team. They play hard in their rink, and they’re physical. It was one of the things we talked about before the game, our compete level has to pick up. To win a Sutherland Cup, you have bring that grit every night.”
Vipers led 1-0 after the first period on a goal by AJ Ryan, his first of three on the night. After Lincs’ defenceman Max Mulder tied it in the first minute of the second period, Stefan Dobrich put the visitors back in front at 16:12. LaSalle dominated the final 10 minutes of the period, pinning Lincolns in their own zone for long stretches, and only several big stops by Kyle Curtin kept Lincs in the game. With just 34 seconds left in the middle frame, rookie defenceman Reid Ramseyer gave St. Marys new life when he tied it 2-2.
However, Lincolns failed to carry the momentum into the third. Instead, it was Vipers who took control–scoring three times by the 8:15 mark of the period. Gianluca Pizzuto (powerplay), Evan Ferguson and Ryan (shorthanded breakaway) put LaSalle up 5-2.
To Lincs’ credit, they didn’t quit. Goals by Tanner Hertel (powerplay) and Austin Maietta, with 2:24 to play, left St. Marys trailing just 5-4. Coach Trent McClement pulled Curtin for an extra attacker with 1:11 remaining, and Lincolns held a 6-on-4 man advantage when Vipers’ defenceman Danny Skinner was given a five-minute checking-from-behind major in the final minute.
When Ryan completed his hat trick into an empty St. Marys net at 19:50, it ended any hopes of a Lincs’ comeback.
Overall, LaSalle out-shot the Lincolns 33-23, including 17-5 in the second period.
“You look at the game, and the little things aren’t going right for us,” said assistant GM Smale, who has been on the Lincolns’ bench for the last few games. “We’re not getting those little bounces, but we’re also making mistakes in our own zone and they’re costing us.
“One, two or three mistakes are usually going to lose you a hockey game. We’ve got to clean that stuff up.
“Right now, we have to start finding ways to win games, rather than finding ways to lose games.”
This weekend: Lincolns have just one game this weekend, hosting the third-place Leamington Flyers (12-6-1-2) Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Lincs then don’t play at home again until Dec. 14 when the first-place London Nationals come to town.