By Scott Maxwell
This weekend was a tough pill to swallow for the St. Marys Lincolns (5-20-1-2) as they walked away from two hard fought efforts with no points. It began with a 6-4 loss to the Sarnia Legionnaires (13-10-1-3) on Friday night, followed by a 5-4 loss to the Strathroy Rockets (7-15-2-4) Saturday.
Despite outshooting Sarnia 33-23 at home on Friday night, the Lincolns lost 6-4, as Paul Town didn’t give the team the goaltending that they needed. St. Marys held a 4-2 lead early in the second, but four unanswered goals from Sarnia gave them the win.
It didn’t take long for the scoring to start, as 3:57 into the opening frame, Sarnia took a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal by Brandon Layman. That lead held for barely a minute, as Lincolns leading scorer Brent House found the back of the net (assisted by Nick Whitworth and Nolan King) to tie the game at 1-1. At the 7:42 mark, Sarnia made it 2-1 with a goal from Joey Zappa. This time, the lead held for five minutes before the Lincolns drew even once more, this time helped by a goal from Colin Capstick (assisted by Jeff Schrattner). The Lincolns also got a late goal in the period, as Dan Cloutier scored with 3:32 left, with assists from Phillip Buque and Schrattner. That gave them a 3-2 lead into the intermission.
The Lincolns got an early goal in the second, as Whitworth scored 42 seconds into the period, with assists from House and King, and the Lincolns had a 4-2 lead. A few minutes later, Layman scored his second goal of the night for Sarnia to cut the lead in half. Both teams exchanged chances in the period, but neither team could capitalize.
Early goals were a pattern in this game, as Jordan Fogarty scored just 17 seconds into the third to tie the game for Sarnia. His team rallied on that goal, as 1:35 later, Brock Perry scored to give Sarnia the 5-4 lead. The Lincolns pressed hard for the tying goal, but they couldn’t get anything else past Shayne Battler. Perry scored another goal with just over five minutes left to put the nail in the coffin and secure the victory.
Saturday’s game wasn’t as disappointing – in the sense that no two-goal leads were blown. Instead, St. Marys was constantly chasing in their 5-4 loss to Strathroy. The Lincolns led for just 59 seconds in the game, and if not for a four point night from House, they probably never would have. Emanuel Vella was solid in the loss, stopping 33 of 38 shots.
The Lincolns got the first goal of the game, as Jack Wieringa scored 4:43 into the game, with assists from Ryan Martin and House. Lucas Latina scored shortly thereafter to tie the game for the Rockets. Strathroy would add to that quickly, as 2:41 later Turner Balasin gave his team their first lead of the game. Strathroy didn’t get the chance to take that lead with them into the intermission however, as House scored (assisted by Josh Zlatinszky) to tie it up with 3:21 left.
Almost five minutes into the second, Steve Griggs gave Strathroy the lead again, but it didn’t take St. Marys long to respond, as House scored his second of the night (and 16th of the season) in the dying seconds of a power play. Wieringa and Nathan Smith picked up assists.
A late goal by Latina, his second of the game, meant Strathroy had a 4-3 lead going into the dressing room. They got another goal early in the third to improve their lead to 5-3.
Nathan Smith would score on a power play a few minutes later (assisted by Wieringa and House) to draw the Lincolns within one, but they couldn’t beat Rockets goalie Dane Gubbels for the tying goal. Despite outshooting Strathroy 13-9 in the period, they wound up with a 5-4 loss.
With these two losses, the Lincolns have lost four games in a row, and are now seven points behind Strathroy for seventh place. The team is still struggling to get goals, as just four players on the roster have more than five to their name. However, every player currently on the roster has at least a point with the team. Goaltending also remains a concern, as none of the goalies on the current roster have a save percentage of .900 or better. The one goalie who has stopped better than nine of 10 shots is 15-year-old St. Marys native Kyle Morning, of the Huron Perth AAA Minor Midgets, who posted a .909 SV% for the Lincolns when he came on in relief of Paul Town versus Strathroy on Nov. 6 in a 5-4 St. Marys win.
Tonight, the Lincolns host the first place Leamington Flyers (20-4-1-0) at 7:30 pm, followed by a road game in Chatham on Sunday against the Maroons at 7:00 pm. They also have a Wednesday night game in London against the Nationals at 7:30 pm.