Lincolns' offence comes to life against Jr. Canadians

Lincs go 2-0 at Showcase; goaltender Lalama shines in opening-game 3-2 victory over Stratford Warriors

  • Sports   Wednesday, September 28, 2022   Pat Payton
Rookie forward Owen Voortman leads a rush for the Lincolns during a recent home game. Lincs hit the wins column with a couple of victories this past weekend at the GOJHL Showcase. Leamington Flyers come to town this Friday for a 7:30 p.m. face-off.  (Payt

Rookie forward Owen Voortman leads a rush for the Lincolns during a recent home game. Lincs hit the wins column with a couple of victories this past weekend at the GOJHL Showcase. Leamington Flyers come to town this Friday for a 7:30 p.m. face-off. (Payt

By Pat Payton
PELHAM - Head coach Jeff Bradley hopes St. Marys Lincolns' performance at the GOJHL Showcase is a turning point in their young season.
A come-from-behind 8-3 victory over the Welland Jr. Canadians here Saturday capped a 2-0 weekend for the Lincs. The team had started their regular schedule with three consecutive overtime losses.
"Every single team in hockey goes through these little losing streaks at some point," Bradley said. "It was a little bit of a learning period for our guys to get some chemistry and understand what makes us successful and what doesn't make us successful.
"Hopefully we've turned the page a little bit and realize what it takes to be a good hockey team. We've had to learn on the fly; we haven't even had a team video session yet. We have good, smart hockey players, we just have to put it all together. I don't think we've played a complete 60-minute hockey game yet. I think our game will come together shortly," he added.
Following weekend action, London Nationals (4-0-0-1) sit atop the Western Conference standings with nine points. St. Marys (2-0-3-0) sits in a second-place tie with Leamington Flyers (3-1-1-0), St. Thomas Stars (3-2-0-1) and Komoka Kings (3-2-1-0) – all with seven points.
Lincolns 8 - Jr. Canadians 3
In Saturday morning's game, there was a huge momentum swing as Lincolns charged back from a 2-0 deficit with three goals in the final eight minutes of the second period to take the lead for good. Lincs then pulled away with five more goals in the third.
"It was nice to see us respond the way we did," coach Bradley said. "It was looking pretty grim when we were down two, but the guys fought back. Maybe it took a little time for the guys to get their feet under them.
"Once we did, we did the little things right . . . like supporting the puck, playing physical and playing responsible. It was nice to see."
Lincolns had the better scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes, hitting two goal posts, but Welland would open the scoring as Colton Corby connected with just 64 seconds left in the period.
A defensive breakdown by St. Marys proved costly early in the second period. After Carter George had made the initial save on a breakaway, Owin Hendsbee put the Jr. Canadians ahead 2-0 at the 6:14 mark.
The tide then turned big time in favour of the Lincolns. Lincs totally dominated the final 10 minutes of the period and were rewarded with three consecutive goals and a 3-2 lead. Michael Elliston got Lincolns on the board with a powerplay goal at 12:23. It was Elliston's third man-advantage goal of the season. Rookie defenceman Owen Brown tied it 2-2 at 15:24, and then Jaden Lee gave Lincs their first lead of the contest just 16 seconds later.
Just 56 seconds into the third, the red-hot Elliston made it 4-2 with his team-leading seventh goal. After captain Ethan Lamoureux put Lincs up 5-2 at 4:56, Welland answered with a powerplay goal by Brady Afelskie at 7:02.
However, defenceman Nathan Small restored a three-goal St. Marys lead just over a minute later. Lincolns then capped their huge comeback with late goals by rookie Jimmy Schiedel (his first as a Lincoln) and veteran Adrian Stubberfield.
Fifteen different Lincs picked up at least one point in the victory. Stubberfield finished the game with three points, while Elliston, Schiedel, Brown, Small and Josh Cornfield earned two points apiece.
Lincolns out-shot the Jr. Canadians 30-12 over the final 40 minutes and 38-26 overall. Rookie goalie George posted his first win for St. Marys.
Welland, a member of the Golden Horseshoe loop, watched its record fall to 1-4 with the loss.
Lincolns 3 - Warriors 2
On Friday afternoon, Lincolns opened the Showcase Weekend by winning the 'Battle of Highway 7' as they skated to a hard-fought 3-2 victory over the Stratford Warriors.
Lincs got the start they were looking for against the Midwestern Conference Warriors. Goals by Cole Schnittker and Jaden Lee – before the contest was eight minutes old – put St. Marys ahead to stay.
Just past the midway mark of the second period, Stratford's Hunter Nagge closed the gap to 2-1 when he capitalized on a turnover. In the dying seconds of the period, Lincolns' goalie Matteo Lalama was forced to make a huge save to keep his team in front.
Lincs didn't give the Warriors a powerplay opportunity until almost the midway mark of the third. Following the Stratford powerplay, Michael Elliston put Lincolns up 3-1 with his team holding the man advantage. The Elliston tally would stand up as the game winner.
Lalama then took the spotlight by making at least three outstanding stops to keep Lincs ahead by two. With 3:34 remaining, Sheldon Pryce's powerplay goal pulled Warriors to within one again, but that's as close as Stratford would get.
Overall, Warriors out-shot the Lincolns 33-27 – including 14-8 in the final 20 minutes.
For the Lincs, it was their first regulation-time win of the young season. Stratford slipped to 3-3 with the loss.
Veteran goalie shines
In a post-game interview, coach Bradley heaped plenty of praise on his veteran goaltender.
"Today, it was a bit of a relief, but we deserved the win," Bradley said. "In the third period, Matteo really stepped up and made some huge saves and it gave us confidence. When you have a goalie back there who can make the big stops, it makes you feel a little bit safer.
"Matteo made a couple of massive saves in particular; 95 per cent of the goalies wouldn't have made those saves. I think it's just taken a little time for him to adjust to a different league and a different pace."
The 20-year-old Lalama was a member of the OHL's Barrie Colts the past two seasons.
Upcoming: Lincolns return to Western Conference action this weekend, hosting Leamington on Friday at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, Lincs travel to Chatham to meet the Maroons at 7 p.m.