By Dan Rankin
When Brent House scored his second power play goal of the night late in the third period on Sept. 18 to tie the game and force overtime, it looked to the 375 in attendance like the Lincolns might be on the verge of a streak-breaking win. But early in the second overtime period LaSalle’s Eric Kirby dashed those hopes with a goal to give his team the hard-fought 4-3 win. The overtime loss was the first point in the standings registered by the Lincolns since last Dec. 17, also in an overtime loss to LaSalle.
St. Marys (0-3-1) wasn’t able to capitalize on the momentum from that game in their next tilt however, falling 7-3 two nights later on the road in St. Thomas (2-2-0).
At the Pyramid Centre on Sept. 18, the Vipers came out strong, outshooting St. Marys 11- 5 in the first period and scoring twice. Their second, scored by Nathan Savage and assisted by Kirby, was a shorthanded goal that came during a string of four consecutive St. Marys power plays, during which the home team could not find the back of the net.
The next two periods were another story, with the Lincolns pouring on 27 shots to the Vipers’ 15. Dan Cloutier scored at 3:27 of the second, assisted by Jared Lindsay and Josh Zlatinszky, with House notching his first goal of the night just over a minute later. Graham Brulotte and Nick Whitworth had helpers on the goal.
LaSalle broke the tie at 5:26 of the third. House responded in the game’s dying seconds, at 19:48, when a St. Marys power play and a pulled goalie gave the Lincolns a desperate shift up two men. Eli Billing got the win in net for LaSalle, stopping 31 of 34 shots. Ryan Langford took the loss in the St. Marys net, stopping 28 of 32 shots.
Langford had a tougher time Sunday against the Stars, stopping just eight of the first 12 shots he faced, before being pulled and eventually assessed the loss.
House had three points on the night, including the Lincolns’ first marker midway through the second period to make it 4-1, assisted by Lindsay and Tom McHenry. Brulotte’s third period goal, assisted by House and Nolan King, made it 4-2. House and Brulotte have both started the season at a better-than point-per-game pace, with House having notched four goals and four assists in four games and Brulotte with three goals and three helpers. But three goals in quick succession on Tyler Beattie, who came on in relief of Langford, put the game out of reach. The Stars’ Alex Turko was in on all three goals, scored within four minutes between 5:30 and 9:20 of the third, tallying a goal and two assists. King’s late goal assisted by Whitworth and House made it 7-3, which stood as the final.
St. Marys, who finished in last place and a full 24 points behind Lambton Shores for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot last season, has once again fallen into last place in the conference. In four games, they’ve allowed 23 goals – over twice as many goals allowed as first place Leamington (11) in one fewer game played. This comes despite having taken by far the fewest penalties in the conference; just 62 PIMs have been assessed to St. Marys, 21 less than second-place London and 108 less than Chatham.
St. Marys will try to get back in the win column when they host London (2-2-0) tonight at the Pyramid Centre. Puck drop is at 7:30 pm.