Lincolns new goaltender Emanuel Vella made 46 saves in his first appearance for the team, a 3-3 tie with London last Sunday.
By Dan Rankin
The Lincolns went 0-1-1-0 over their two-game homestand at the PRC last weekend.
It began with a disappointing Friday night that saw St. Marys shutout for the second consecutive game, falling 4-0 to St. Thomas. Spencer Hutchinson had a goal and two assists for the Stars, while goalie Nikolas Dampier had a 25-save shutout. After Friday’s loss, St. Marys had scored just three times in their last four games, including no goals in the last two, while allowing 21.
Sunday’s home game versus London saw some changes to the Lincolns lineup, some planned and some not. Following Friday evening’s game, the two top goal-scorers for the Lincolns, Brent House and Graham Brulotte, were involved in a car accident on their way home to London from St. Marys. They did not sustain serious injuries and were in the crowd at the Pyramid Centre Sunday, but were left out of the lineup as a precaution.
“It was scary, you never like to hear that happen,” Lincolns director of hockey operations Dustin Wenger said. “They’re a little banged up and sore, but should be back for next week’s games.”
To make matters worse from an offensive standpoint Sunday, fourth-leading scorer Nathan Smith was also out of the lineup due to illness.
But there was also some positive news about the Lincolns’ lineup Sunday. Emanuel Vella, a Toronto-born third-round draft pick (47th overall) for the OHL’s London Knights, got his first start in net for the Lincolns Sunday. Vella, 17, started for the Knights in their Sept. 25 season-opening 5-3 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs, making 26 saves. Since then, Vella has backed up Knights starter Tyler Parsons eight times, and will now spend the rest of the season going between St. Marys and London, Wenger said.
Vella’s impact was felt right away, as he made 46 saves on the way to a 3-3 tie with the Nationals, after two extra periods failed to determine a winner. The teams traded goals in the first period, with Philip Buque burying his first of the season to tie the game at one apiece at 15:26 of the opening frame. He scored again the following period on the power play, assisted by Nolan King and Nick Whitworth.
Though they failed to score during over a minute of 5-on-3 in the first period, Sunday saw a marked improvement for the Lincolns’ power play unit, as they went 2-5 with the man advantage. Ryan Martin’s power play goal late in the second period (assisted by King and Matt Granger) made it 3-2 for St. Marys going into the third.
Granger’s hooking penalty in the third – the only infraction called in either the third period or the game’s two overtime sessions – proved costly for the Lincolns, as it led to a game-tying power play marker for London, which stood as the last goal of the game.
One more win for the Lincolns (2-8-1-1) will tie last season’s point total of eight. The 2014-2015 Lincolns went 2-43-0-4.
Ryan Langford was backup for St. Marys while goaltender Paul Town was a healthy scratch.
The Lincolns were on the road in Sarnia last night. Tonight, they’re home against LaSalle. That game gets underway at the PRC at 7:30 pm.