Lincs defeat Stars 5-2, improve road record to 7-3
Lincolns take four of a possible six points last week, move into tie for fifth
Hard-working Lincolns' centre Joe Mazur (91) checks the puck off a Chatham forward's stick during a Maroons' powerplay last Friday night's game at the PRC. Lincs (10-9) won two of three games last week and have moved into a tie for fifth place with LaSall
By Pat Payton
ST. THOMAS - St. Marys Lincolns continue to be a strong road team in the GOJHL's Western Conference.
Lincs skated to a 5-2 victory over the home-town Stars here Sunday night, their seventh win in 10 road trips to date this season. Now, they just have to get the puzzle solved on home ice, where they are 3-6 at the PRC.
"The big change we're trying to make as a team is to make plays and move the puck," coach Jeff Bradley said following Sunday's win. "The strong point of our team is our work ethic all over the ice and our physicality.
"I've asked our guys to play well defensively, and for the most part, we have. We've been very responsible that way. There's nothing but time; we still have 30-plus games left. There's a ton of time to work on what we want to achieve and to become a better team."
Lincolns' win improved their record to 10-9, moving five points ahead of St. Thomas (7-11-0-1) and into a fifth-place tie with LaSalle Vipers (9-6-1-1).
After weekend action, London Nationals (13-3-1-1) sit in first place with 28 points -- two more than the Leamington Flyers (13-5-0-0). Chatham Maroons (11-5-1-2) moved into a third-place tie with Komoka Kings (12-7-1-0) Sunday after defeating the visiting Nats 3-2 in overtime.
Lincolns 5 - Stars 2
At the Joe Thornton Community Centre Sunday night, Lincolns scored three times before the first period was a little over five minutes old--knocking Stars' starting goalie Tyler Roberts out of the game.
The strong start was an obvious key to the win, coach Bradley said.
"Having a quick start was a huge bonus tonight. When you have a game plan and you stick to that game plan, it pays off. We're trying to find consistency in our game, and that consistency is from the first minute to the last minute.
"Our goal is to play a certain way for 60 minutes. For how well we played tonight, we know we can still get better and the players know we can still get better."
The St. Marys goal-scorers were newcomer Thomas Harbour (on his first shift), Noah VandenBrink (his ninth) and Eric Smith, who returned from injury. Smith (his seventh) and Kieran Moore extended Lincs' lead to 5-0 before the midway mark of the second. Mitchell's Tanner Dietz (shorthanded) and Mathieu Paris finally got St. Thomas on the board before the end of the period.
Stars out-shot the Lincs 13-5 in a scoreless third, but couldn't close the gap any further.
Smith and veteran Ethan Lamoureux finished the night with two points apiece for the visitors.
Overall, St. Thomas out-shot St. Marys 30-26. Bryce Walcarius (7-4) made 28 saves for the win.
It was the first meeting between the two teams this season.
Maroons 5 - Lincolns 1
At the PRC Friday night, Lincolns suffered their sixth defeat on home ice -- a 5-1 decision to the surging Maroons.
Lincs went into the game three points behind Chatham, and were looking to carry their momentum from a big win in Leamington the previous night into Friday's game. However, it didn't happen.
Lincolns seemed to be a step behind the quick-skating Maroons all night. The visitors took a 2-0 advantage into the third period, and then extended their lead to 5-0 before Lincs' defenceman Eric Lalonde spoiled Chatham goalie Luka Dobrich's bid for a shutout with 33 seconds remaining to play.
Dylan Glinski, with two, David Brown, Owen Sculthorp and Warren Clark (powerplay) scored for the Maroons.
Overall, Chatham out-shot St. Marys 51-24. Walcarius replaced injured starter Ryan Wheeler late in the second period.
"I don't want to make excuses, but we simply didn't look ready to go . . . we didn't look engaged," coach Bradley admitted. "We got home from Leamington early in the morning and you have to play a game less than 24 hours later. You could tell when we got on the ice that we weren't ready to match what Chatham was bringing to us.
"It was by far our worst game in the last four since I've been here. Back-to-back games, it's hard to match the effort of the previous night."
Maroons now lead the season series 2-1.
Lincolns 2 - Flyers 1
At Leamington Thursday night, newcomer Ryan Cooper's first goal as a Lincoln lifted St. Marys to a well-deserved 2-1 victory over the Flyers.
It was Lincs' first win against Leamington this season, after losing twice on home ice to the Flyers (13-5) earlier in the schedule.
"It's not an easy place to win, but we didn't give them much at all," coach Bradley reported. "The chances we did give up, we were lucky to have Bryce back there to stop them.
"We committed to playing sound defensively, and everybody bought in. We were patient and capitalized on the chances we did get."
Leamington's Jack Cotter scores the only goal of the first period. Lincolns ran into a little penalty trouble in the opening 20 minutes and mustered only three shots on net.
Ethan Lamoureux (his seventh) tied it midway through the second period, leaving the teams deadlocked 1-1 going into the final 20 minutes. Cooper's winner came with 4:40 remaining, just 15 seconds after Flyers had hit a goal post at the other end. Eric Lalonde earned his second assist of the night on Cooper's goal.
Walcarius, making his third straight start for the Lincs, earned the win with a great 31-save performance. St. Marys out-shot Leamington 33-32, including 30-23 over the final 40 minutes.
Lincolns' strong defensive effort featured great penalty-killing by veteran forwards Kobe Ferreira, Joe Mazur and Cole Schnittker. Flyers went 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
Upcoming: Lincs have another three-game week ahead to complete their November schedule. They travel to LaSalle to meet the Vipers on Wednesday, host Strathroy Rockets on Friday at 7:30 p.m., and then play the Stars again in St. Thomas on Sunday evening.