By Pat Payton
Approximately 1,000 fans were at the PRC last Friday night for the Jr. ‘B’ Lincolns ‘Fill the Rink’ promotion, Lincs’ last regular-season home game for 2018-19.
Lincolns and Strathroy Rockets entertained the big crowd with a fast-paced, end-to-end battle. Rockets won the game 1-0, with a second-period powerplay goal by Brendan Mairs standing up as the winner. Both goalies played well, with Strathroy’s Vince Michelizzi getting the shutout and St. Marys veteran Justin Richer making 20 saves.
“I thought it was a hard-fought battle the whole game,” Lincs’ coach Trent McClement said. “I didn’t think we had some puck luck tonight on our second chances.
“But going forward, I think we’re going to be a scary team next year. Tonight, in front of a big crowd in a playoff-type atmosphere, the boys rose to the occasion and were physical and played a heckuva game.
“And Richer stood on his head tonight. This is three games in a row where he has played well. Both of our goaltenders all year have been really good. We’re lucky to have two good goaltenders, and next year that’s going to be a big asset for us for sure.”
–Prior to last Friday’s game, Lincolns honoured the 1967-68 St. Marys team which won the Central League championship. Ten players from that talented team were individually introduced. They included: Ray Parise, leading scorer Pete Fraser, Mike Mikita, Don Stewart, Jack Julius, Bill Rysnik, Ted Black, Don Dill, Rick Felkar and Phil Howard.
Before being honoured on the ‘blue carpet’, members of the team enjoyed a meal in the End Zone room, courtesy of Lincs’ Alumni committee. Special 1967-68 league champion pucks and a team photo were also given to each member of the team.
–Before playing his final home game as a Lincoln, graduating defenceman and assistant captain Brett Whitehead was also honoured prior to last Friday’s ‘Fill the Rink’ event. The 20-year-old Sudbury native was presented with his No. 11 white jersey in a frame. His parents Chris and Val were on hand for the presentation.
Whitehead, who was a member of the Lincs for just one season, played almost 250 games in his Junior career. He was a member of the league champion London Nationals last season, and acquired by St. Marys in the off-season.
–The Junior IPs (Mites), from the SMMHA, entertained the big crowd between the first and second periods last Friday night. There were about 20 youngsters on the ice, wearing blue and white jerseys.
SMMHA player Trevor Aarts won the free registration draw, for minor hockey players only, during last Friday’s game.
–At the Western Fair Sports Centre Saturday night, London Nationals jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead en route to a 3-1 victory over the Lincolns.
George Diaco scored both London goals in the opening 20 minutes. Lincs’ Tanner Hertel failed to score on a penalty shot when it was 1-0 for the Nats. Lincolns’ Austin Maietta scored the only goal of the second period close the gap to 2-1, but Wes Dobbin’s goal with just under seven minutes remaining in the third clinched the win for the Nationals.
It was London’s sixth consecutive win over St. Marys this season. With the win, Nats finished their regular-season schedule with a 33-12-1-2 record — two points behind the first-place Leamington Flyers (33-10-2-3).
–On Sunday night in Chatham, Lincolns completed their 48-game regular schedule with a 6-5 overtime loss to the home-town Maroons. Justin Badour’s goal at 2:07 of OT gave the Maroons the win.
Austin Maietta and Carter Schoonderwoerd each had a goal and two assists for St. Marys (11-30-3-4). The other singles went to Justin McIntyre, Mason Goldie and Josh Martin.
Lincs earned five points in six games against the third-place Maroons this season, winning one game and taking the veteran Chatham team to overtime three times.
–In the Western Conference quarter-finals, Leamington Flyers play Strathroy Rockets, London Nationals meet St. Thomas Stars, Chatham Maroons face off against Komoka Kings, and Sarnia Legionnaires tangle with LaSalle Vipers.