St. Marys slips further into the basement after three close weekend losses
By Pat Payton
CHATHAM – The effort is there, unfortunately St. Marys Lincolns aren’t getting rewarded for the work they are putting in–game after game.
This past weekend, Lincs lost a trio of GOJHL games–all by a margin of two goals–and they continue to slip further into the Western Conference basement.
Here Sunday afternoon at Chatham Memorial Arena, Lincolns dropped a 5-3 decision to the home-town Maroons in front of just over 700 spectators. Lincs’ last regulation-time victory was Nov. 11 when they won 7-3 in Chatham. They’ve lost eight and tied another in their last nine games since then.
“The boys fought hard this weekend, with two of the games against the top teams in our league,” Lincolns’ coach Trent McClement said Sunday. “We’re just not getting the bounces we need right now. Sometimes we get the same chance as the other team and they’re scoring and we’re not. It seems like it’s the same story every week, but it just comes down to that.
“I’m a firm believer that if we keep playing the way we are playing, things have to turn around eventually. You can’t have luck like this for the whole season. When it turns around, this town is going to go crazy. We’ll get there.”
Following weekend action, St. Marys (7-20-1-1) sits eight points behind Strathroy Rockets (12-16-0-0), who currently own the eighth and final playoff spot. With Sunday’s win, Maroons (16-8-0-3) moved into a second-place tie with Leamington Flyers (16-7-1-2).
Lincs’ final two games before the Christmas break are this week. After playing the Flyers in Leamington Thursday night at 7:10 p.m., Lincolns host Komoka Kings Friday at 7:30 p.m. It’s a huge game for the Lincs as Komoka (12-14-1-0) is one of the teams they’re chasing for the final playoff spot in the West.
Maroons 5 – Lincolns 3
On Sunday in Chatham, Lincolns travelled to their third game in four days with just 15 skaters and two goalies. The short-staffed Lincs put up a good fight, and trailed only 2-1 after the first period and 3-1 after 40 minutes.
Maroons scored twice before the third period was six minutes old, opening up a 5-1 lead. Lincolns’ Carter Schoonderwoerd fired the game’s final two goals, including one on a powerplay with less than two minutes to play.
Schoonderwoerd also drew an assist on Mason Goldie’s first-period goal. Quinton Pepper assisted on all three St. Marys goals.
Maddux Rychel, with two, Dane Johnstone, Justin Badour and Griffin Robinson scored for Chatham.
Lincs played a very disciplined game, picking up only two minor penalties. Overall, Maroons out-shot the Lincolns 41-31.
Forward Cayse Ton (university exams) and defenceman Brett Whitehead (suspended) were not in St. Marys’ line-up Sunday.
“We only had three lines and one extra up front and five defencemen today,” coach McClement noted. “We faced a Chatham line-up today that recently beat London 6-2.”
Nationals 4 – Lincolns 2
At the PRC Friday night, Lincolns lost the game but were given high marks for effort from Director of Hockey Operations Jim MacEachern.
“It was a loss for us tonight, but London’s an older club and we’re an extremely young team,” MacEachern said after Lincs dropped a hard-fought 4-2 decision to the first-place London Nationals.
“I thought we played our butts off tonight. We probably had 10 glorious opportunities to score tonight and you have to take your hat off to their goaltender (Jukka Schotter). Actually both goaltenders played extremely well.
“But with a couple of bounces, we win that hockey game. The shots were close, 30-26, and it was a helluva hockey game and I’m extremely proud of our boys tonight. We didn’t get the win, but we didn’t back down one inch from that team. I loved our compete level.”
Nationals opened up a 2-0 first-period lead on a pair of goals by Christian Polillo. Polillo’s second goal came on a powerplay in the final minute of the period, just 18 seconds after Lincolns’ winger Justin McIntyre received a five-minute major for cross-checking.
After James Turner put London up 3-0 at 7:24 of the second period, shots and scoring chances were almost equal over the final 30 minutes. Captain Blair Butchart finally got Lincs on the scoreboard at 15:14, beating Schotter from the slot. Lincolns then had a great chance to pull closer, but squandered a 5-on-3 powerplay opportunity late in the period.
Riley MacRae put the Nats up 4-1 early in the third, but Lincs refused to quit and generated some of their best scoring chances in the final 20 minutes. The line of Butchart, Tanner Hertel and Cayse Ton was the most dangerous trio, and Hertel (his eighth) connected on a 2-on-1 break with just under five minutes to play.
With 1:27 remaining, Schotter made one of his biggest saves of the night when Butchart broke in all alone while killing a penalty. A goal at that point would have left Lincolns down by just one–setting up a wild finish.
Goalie Kyle Curtin, with 26 saves, was selected player-of-the-game for St. Marys.
Nationals went into the game with a 20-6-0-2 record, but had lost four of their previous five games. Lincs are now 0-4-1 in five games against the veteran-laden Nats.
Legionnaires 6 – Lincolns 4
In Sarnia Thursday night, Lincolns twice pulled even in the third period, before Legionnaires’ Clark Allair fired the winner with 3:55 remaining–snapping a 4-4 tie. Logan Gardner added an insurance tally for the home team just 45 seconds later.
Blair Butchart, Carter Schoonderwoerd, Justin McIntyre and Joe Mazur (his 11th) scored for the Lincs, who trailed 2-0 after the first period and 2-1 going into the final 20 minutes. Tanner Hertel earned two assists.
William Redick, with two, Jon Sanderson and Isaac McLean scored the other Sarnia goals.
Overall, Legionnaires out-shot St. Marys 37-30. Curtin went the distance for the Lincs.
Lincolns are now 0-3 against fourth-place Sarnia (14-9-0-4) to date.