At least six more wins needed to make playoffs: Lincs’ coach
By Pat Payton
At press time Monday afternoon of this week, St. Marys Lincolns had made one player move prior to Thursday’s OHA trading deadline.
Lincs acquired veteran forward Thomas McLatchie from St. Thomas Stars in a straight cash deal.
McLatchie had seven goals, 14 points and 43 penalty minutes in 23 games with St. Thomas. The 19-year-old from Niagara Falls is playing his third full season in the GOJHL. McLatchie, who is 6 ft., 1 inch and 175 lbs., spent all of last season with the Stars, collecting 15 goals and 29 points in 46 games. He played with Welland in the 2016-17 season.
McLatchie played his first game with St. Marys Saturday night in Komoka. “I liked his game,” coach Trent McClement reported. “He brings that veteran presence, does all the right things and goes to all the dirty areas.”
In an interview with the Independent last Thursday, Lincolns’ Director of Hockey Operations Jim MacEachern said a “defenceman or two” was the team’s first priority. “There’s probably five things we’re working on right now. Best case scenario would be a couple of defencemen . . . and a couple of forwards.”
MacEachern admits that his phone has been ringing off the wall.
“We are certainly attractive to a lot of teams, but we want to keep our nucleus together. We like our hockey team. We’re a couple of guys short, but I think we’re going to be a pretty good hockey team going forward. We have the potential for a lot of excitement out there.”
MacEachern added that he would be “really disappointed” if Lincs didn’t make a move or two before the Jan. 10 deadline.
–With 15 regular-season games remaining going into this past weekend, coach McClement was asked how many games he thinks his Lincolns need to win to grab a playoff spot in the GOJHL’s Western Conference.
McClement’s replied that he feels Lincs need “at least six more wins” to accomplish that goal.
“Coming down the stretch, we have to get points,” the first-year Lincolns’ coach said. “Six wins could possibly be enough to get us in. If you don’t beat those teams like Komoka, Strathroy and St. Thomas when you’re playing them, then you’re going to need a couple of more wins because those are four-point games.”
Lincs have one more game against both Komoka and St. Thomas and two against Strathroy, all teams just ahead of St. Marys in the standings.
“I think we have a favourable schedule compared to some of those other teams,” McClement said. “But in this league, everybody has been beating everybody.”
–Captain Blair Butchart talked about the importance of Lincolns getting off to a good start in 2019.
“We had three games this (past) weekend, and we wanted to get as many points as possible,” Butchart told the Independent. “We got three of a possible four points in our last two games before the (Christmas) break, and we wanted a hot start to kick off the New Year.
“Before the game (last Wednesday in LaSalle), we sat down and had a talk. We’ve all played in this league now for over 30 games, and there’s no more rookies. We know who we’re playing every night. We have to pull up our socks, everybody knows their role, and now it’s a matter of executing every time we’re on the ice. That will lead to our success.”
–McClement said he was “proud” of the Lincolns for not wilting under pressure last Wednesday in LaSalle. Vipers pulled to within a goal with still over nine minutes to play, but Lincs weathered the late-game LaSalle attack and came home with a huge 4-3 victory.
“When LaSalle scored their third goal, you could see the guys picking each other up and saying ‘hey, we’re not going to lose this game,’” the coach reported. “We went out there and battled, and were working for the same goal. It’s definitely a confidence thing and it’s nice to see.
“We’re kind of maturing here, too,” McClement continued. “I think we’re learning how to win and learning to adapt to the team we’re playing against. After the last three games, I think the guys know they can compete and can win in this league. Before, we were competing, but not getting any points to show for it.
“We’ve been successful the last few games because of our effort and our attention to detail. From the beginning of the season I always thought after Christmas, once this young team got some games under their belt, that we would be a hard team to play against.”
–Last Friday, Lincolns held a ‘Girls Rock the Rink’ promotion, a celebration of girls hockey in St. Marys. All girls teams in the SMMHA were given free passes to the Lincs-Maroons game.
The Tyke girls entertained the big crowd with a 10-minute game between the first and second periods.
This Friday, Jan. 11 is Service Club Appreciation Night, where the Lincolns will thank the many clubs that give back to our community. Members are encouraged to pick up their free passes from their respective clubs.
–Former Lincoln Colin Martin is now a member of the Komoka Kings’ coaching staff. The 27-year-old Londoner played in the East Coast League the last two seasons, but is now officially retired.
Martin scored 39 goals one season with the Lincs before joining the OHL’s London Knights.