A 30-win season, third place and playoff series victory just a few of the highlights
By Pat Payton
St. Marys Jr. ‘B’ Lincolns can fondly reflect back on the 2019-20 season.
As a team, Lincs had a 30-win regular season (first time in 10 years), a third-place finish in the Western Conference standings, and won a playoff series for the first time in eight years.
There were also some individual awards that went along with this memorable season. Lincolns’ head coach Trent McClement and his staff were named coaching staff-of-the-year, and goalie Kyle Curtin and forward Ryan Burke were both named to conference all-star teams.
“It was exciting to see the town re-energized and to see the crowds come back,” General Manager Greg Smale said in an interview with the Independent last week. “There were a lot of people showing up at the rink who hadn’t been coming to games the last few years and that was nice to see.”
The season was abruptly cancelled March 12 by Hockey Canada due to the on-going health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. Lincs had just started a conference semi-final series against Leamington Flyers.
“I think for me, the season is bittersweet,” Smale said. “I’m really happy with the on-ice success, and really happy with the fan support and sponsorship, and I thank everyone who contributed to the success of this year’s team.
“I would have really liked to see our rink on the Friday night for Game 2 (against Leamington). It was the first time in eight years that this team had advanced to the second round. I think the atmosphere in our rink would have been incredible.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow. Everyone has been pretty devastated by it all, but at the end of the day there’s bigger things in the world than hockey. This is something that’s come up and we all have a responsibility to do our part. It’s just a sacrifice that we have to make.”
Six Lincs go overage
Six Lincolns played their final year in Junior hockey this past season. Captain Cayse Ton, Thomas McLatchie, Riley Coome, Ryan Brown, Jake Robinson and Brock Trichilo are all 20-year-olds and graduate due to age.
“I feel horrible for the six graduating players, who had their season cut short,” the GM said. “They couldn’t end their Junior hockey careers on the ice. It was basically out of their control.”
Smale says the total number of players Lincs will have to replace next season is still a big question mark.
“It’s really hard to say right now; it’s too early in the off-season,” he said. “Every team is in the same situation right now, and all starting recruitment at the same time.
“The unfortunate thing about being a good hockey team this year, we had more eyes on us and more people watching our young players. There’s a good possibility that they will get picked over and could be picked up by other teams.
“We’d love to have all our eligible players back, some of them who we’ve developed over the last two years. But there’s also a lot of kids up in the air with school. It’s a number that could change week to week right now,” he added.
An eye to the future
Lincolns won’t be holding their annual spring tryout camp late next month, but the team is already looking ahead to the 2020-21 season.
“We have a lot of data collected that we’ve gone over from this past season,” the GM says. “We have a lot of scouting reports, and we’re not in as bad a shape as a lot of other teams may be. Over the last week and a half, I’ve been meeting with different players and their families, and seeing who could possibly be a fit. We want to have that next group ready to go when next season starts.
“It’s unfortunate that we won’t have our spring camp because it’s nice to have all those final prospects in one place. But we’re living in a world right now where there is a lot of uncertainty. We’re going to have to adapt as a hockey team, and possibly learn to do things differently this year. Hopefully it pays off for us come September.”