By Scott Maxwell
Brent House scored the OT winner after Ryan Martin tied the game with three seconds left, to give the St. Marys Lincolns (3-12-1-2) their third win of the season with a 5-4 victory over the Strathroy Rockets (4-9-2-4).
Graham Brulotte scored two power play goals as part of a three point night, while Nolan King set up three goals, and House and Martin also had two points, all to help out rookie goalie Kyle Morning, who was seeing his first GOJHL action after a first period injury to Paul Town.
The game started out well for the Lincolns, as Josh Zlatinszky scored 1:38 into the game (assisted by Brandon Glover and Jeff Schrattner) to give St Marys an early 1-0 lead. That lead didn’t last too long, however, as Strathroy piled on with two goals before the opening frame’s halfway mark. Things went from bad to worse, as with less than five minutes left in the period, Strathroy’s Matt McGhee crashed the net and bumped Town in the head. After a few minutes of lying on the ice, Town got up but had to leave the game, so Morning had to come into the game in relief. McGhee got a five minute major for the play, and was ejected from the game. St. Marys made the most of that opportunity, as a minute into the power play, Brulotte scored (assisted by King and Glover) to tie the game at 2-2. St. Marys played well in that period, outshooting the Rockets 16-13, including a 7-2 stretch with Morning in net.
The Lincolns showed poor discipline in the beginning of the second, as Matt Granger and Matthew Phillip took consecutive penalties to give Strathroy a two minute 5-on-3. Strathroy capitalized on the opportunity, as Riley O’Connell scored to regain the lead for his squad. Five minutes later, Brulotte scored on another man advantage to tie the game for the Lincolns again, with assists from House and Nathan Smith, to tie it up at 3-3. The game was back and forth after that, as the shots were even at eight a piece. Dalton Good scored with 11 seconds left to give Strathroy the 4-3 lead into the intermission.
The Lincolns pressed hard for the tying goal in the third, putting ten shots on the Strathroy net. They thought they had the game all tied up midway through the period, but it was waived off as Jack Wieringa got a high sticking penalty on the play. The period remained scoreless into the final minute, but then, with just three seconds left, a scramble in the crease resulted in Martin burying the tying goal (assisted by King and Brulotte).
Things weren’t looking good for St. Marys early in the five-minute 4v4 overtime period, as a tripping penalty from Wieringa gave Strathroy a power play. Morning held strong though, as he stopped all three shots that he faced in the power play, keeping the game tied. The Lincolns built on the momentum from their penalty kill and, at the 3:42 mark, House scored (assisted by Martin and King) to put the crowd of 300 people on their feet, and give the Lincolns the win. Morning stopped 20 of 22 shots for his first GOJHL win.
The win came after a 4-1 loss to the Sarnia Legionnaires (9-7-2) on Nov. 5, who dominated the Lincolns, outshooting them 49-30, and shutting them out until Matthew Phillip scored on the power play with 51 seconds left in the game. Ryan Vendramin and Brock Perry both had three points, while Brad Yowart scored two goals for Sarnia. Emanuel Vella stopped 45 of 49 shots for St. Marys, while Shayne Battler stopped 29 of 30 for Sarnia.
The Lincolns gained a big two points on Friday, but are still three points behind the Lambton Shores Predators (5-13-2) for the final playoff spot with a couple games in hand. The team has received lots of scoring from its top line, as House, Brulotte, and King all have more than 20 points. However, that’s about it for offense, as Smith is the only other player with more than 10 points, and Phillip Buque is the only Lincoln that isn’t on the top line to have notched four goals. Morning was impressive in his debut and, as goaltending has not been a strong suit for the team, it will be interesting to see if he is given a chance in the crease going forward.
The Lincolns have gone to extra time in three of their last seven games and now have one win, two losses and a tie in four overtime games this season. In six games decided by one goal, the Lincolns are 2-2-0-2.
Last night St. Marys was on the road against the division-leading Leamington Flyers (14-3-1-0). They have two home games this weekend, hosting the Chatham Maroons (11-5-1-1) on Friday, and the St. Thomas Stars (10-6-1-1) on Sunday (both starting at 7:30 pm), and conclude this stretch with a Wednesday night game in LaSalle against the Vipers (9-7-3-1) at 7:00 pm.