Losing streak also reaches five games after Leamington wins 5-2 Friday
By Pat Payton
Coach Trent McClement admits that his St. Marys Lincolns are mired in a goal-scoring slump. In their last five games–all losses–Lincs have scored just nine goals.
Lincolns completed the November portion of their GOJHL schedule last Friday night at the PRC, dropping a 5-2 decision to Leamington Flyers.
“We’re in a drought right now,” McClement said following the game. “A lot of teams go through it; this is one of our valleys, and we have to start climbing up the mountain. It’s going to take hard work. I’m a firm believer that when bad things are happening to you, you have to shrug them off and just work harder.
“Right now, we’re not getting the bounces in some of these games, and in my opinion we’re not getting the calls. But the biggest thing is, we’re not scoring on our chances, and that’s the thing we can control. You can’t always control the refs, and the bounces, but we have to bury our chances and right now we’re not,” he added.
Lincs were 1-7-1 in nine games last month, and have slipped into last place in the Western Conference. After weekend action, St. Marys (7-17-0-1) sits four points behind the eighth-place Komoka Kings (9-14-1-0) and five behind Strathroy Rockets (10-14-0-0).
Flyers 5 – Lincolns 2
At the PRC Friday night, Lincolns met one of the hottest teams in the conference right now. It was Leamington’s sixth straight win, moving the Flyers (14-6-1-2) temporarily into sole possession of second place.
With Leamington already leading 1-0 on an early first-period goal by Wyatt O’Neil, the game’s turning point occurred early in the middle frame. Dylan Weston put Flyers up 2-0 on a disputed goal at the 4:45 mark. It took several seconds before the officials ruled it was a goal, and some spectators claimed the puck didn’t enter the St. Marys net. With Lincs still reeling from the controversial call, the visitors scored again just 15 seconds later. The marksman was former Lincoln Michael Andrews.
A breakaway goal by Tanner Hertel (his sixth) finally got Lincs on the board at 10:25, after he was sent into the clear by captain Blair Butchart.
With his team holding a 5-on-3 man advantage for a full two minutes, Colton O’Brien restored a three-goal lead for Leamington at 13:56. Lincolns were just nine seconds from killing off the penalties and getting back to full strength when O’Brien scored.
Justin McIntyre gave St. Marys new life when he scored just 42 seconds into the third. Lincs had a great chance to pull even closer, but failed to score on three consecutive powerplays.
After Flyers’ goalie Zach Borgiel robbed both Butchart and Josh Martin in the final minute, Leamington’s Josh King completed the scoring into an empty St. Marys net with four seconds remaining.
Overall, Flyers out-shot the Lincolns 27-24.
“This might sound bias, but I think we out-chanced Leamington tonight,” coach McClement said. “We just didn’t score on our chances, and they did.
“We’re going to try and switch it up at practice this weekend, like coach (Mike) Babcock did with the Leafs. We’re going to have a little 3-on-3 tournament and put some fun back into it. When things aren’t going well, you try and throw a little fun in there . . . you have to try everything.
“When things are going good for you in hockey, you always seem to get the bounces. But when they’re going bad, you seem to get kicked when you’re down. I just think if we all bring our work boots, things will change. And when it does change, I think we’re going to go on a little bit of a run. You have to be glass half-full all the time.”
Creating more offence
What can the Lincolns do to generate more offence, McClement was asked.
“I think we have to control our shots a little more,” he replied. “Sometimes we miss high and wide. We have guys going to the net, and that’s when you throw pucks on net and hopefully get those rebounds. Right now, the rebounds are hopping over our sticks.
“But that’s hockey and everybody goes through it. The good teams figure out how to nip it in the bud before it gets too bad. Right now, we’re something like 1-10 in our last 11 games, and it’s something we have to turn around here.”
What do the Lincs have to do to get back in the wins column, captain Butchart was asked.
“The biggest thing I see is, we just have to keep it simple,” he said. “Sometimes less is more. When things aren’t going well, you just funnel pucks to the net and hope the bounces go our way. Right now, they don’t seem to be going our way. We just have to stick to our game style.
“We’re a pretty level-headed group. Everybody just has to play their game and do the little things.”
Future games: With no home game this weekend, Lincolns hit the road Sunday for a game in St. Thomas against the Stars. Opening face-off is 7:30 p.m. After a road game Thursday, Dec. 13 in Sarnia, Lincs’ next home start is the following night against the first-place London Nationals.