By Scott Maxwell
The St. Marys Lincolns (7-27-3-1) went into Friday’s game against the Lambton Shores Predators (6-29-3-1) knowing that they would need a win if they wanted a good chance at the playoffs. They did just that, beating the Predators by a score of 5-4.
Graham Brulotte scored with 58 seconds left in the game for the game winner, but Brent House was the star of the game, with a hat trick and an assist. Nolan King got involved in all the goals, with one of his own, as well as four assists.
The first period saw very little action, as both teams played tight, defensive, disciplined hockey. It didn’t stay that way the whole game, as with 1:06 left in the frame, King scored (assisted by House and Matt Granger), and St. Marys had a 1-0 lead after the first. The shots were even at 9-9.
The second period was nothing like the first, with penalties and powerplay goals left and right. House opened the scoring in the second with his first of the evening (assisted by Ryan Martin and King) to give the Lincolns a 2-0 lead. They surrendered that lead quickly, as a cross checking penalty from Phillip Buque and a roughing penalty from Colin Capstick at 4:10 led to two goals from Andrew Kim, and two and a half minutes after the House goal it was a tie game. The Predators would pull ahead of the Lincolns 12:51 into the period, as Ethan Sarfati scored to make it 3-2. However, 1:49 later, House scored his second goal of the game (assisted by Martin and King) to tie it at 3-3. The shots would continue to be equal, as both teams had 10 in the second.
The third period would continue the frantic pace of the second, although there were less goals, as no one wanted to give up that deciding goal. However, 6:17 into the period, House completed the hat trick (assisted by King and Trent Dundas), and the Lincolns would take a 4-3 lead. It took all of 26 seconds for the Preds to tie the game, with Matthew Phillip scoring the tying goal. Scoreless play continued for the period, as once again, no one wanted to be down in the third. However, an undisciplined boarding penalty from Carson Pearce with 1:32 left in the game would change the dynamic of the game. With 58 seconds left, Brulotte would capitalize on the powerplay chance (assisted by Nathan Smith and King), and they would hold on for a 5-4 win. St. Marys would have the edge in shots in the third, with an 11-8 lead.
For the third time this season, the Lincolns have their hands on a playoff spot, and as long as they keep the same pace as Lambton Shores, and beat them on Friday, Feb. 19, they shouldn’t lose the spot this time. But, if they want to be a playoff threat, they need to beat teams other than Lambton Shores, because they won’t be in the playoffs if St. Marys is. One thing they have going for them is their discipline, as their 587 PIMs are the fourth fewest in the league, second fewest in their division. However, their 73.15% penalty kill is the second worst in the league, so they still allow the ninth most powerplay goals in the league.
This coming week, the Lincolns host the Strathroy Rockets (11-18-3-8) on Friday, Jan. 29 at 7:30 pm, followed by a game against the St. Thomas Stars (21-13-1-2) on the road on Thursday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 pm.