By Scott Maxwell
The St. Marys Lincolns (5-23-1-2) have fallen out of a playoff spot after a 6-1 loss to the London Nationals (17-9-3-1), their seventh loss in a row.
Despite a very disciplined game from the Lincolns, who took just one penalty all game, the Nationals attacked them with consistency, scoring two goals every period. Jaden Cramer and John Warren both had two-goal, three-point nights, while Zack Weir was strong in net for the Nationals, stopping 25 of 26 shots.
The game was held scoreless early on, with both teams exchanging chances in a frantic 25-shot period (London had the 15-10 edge). However, St. Marys got on the board first, as Trent Dundas scored, with assists from Liam Melady and Nick Whitworth, at the midway point of the first to give the Lincolns the lead. The Nationals responded quickly, as 2:30 later, Cramer got his first of the evening, followed by Alex Cimino 59 seconds later, and suddenly London had a 2-1 lead.
Warren got his first of the game early on in the second as, just 51 seconds in, he scored to give the Nationals a 3-1 lead. London held the Lincolns at bay for the period, outshooting them 10-6. St. Marys’ hopes to only have a two-goal deficit going into the dressing room were dashed when Warren got his second of the night with 1:54 left in the period. London took a 4-1 lead into the intermission.
The Lincolns pressed for another goal in the third, something to give them momentum, but Weir stopped all 10 shots he faced in the period. Midway through the third, Eric Guest got on the board to put the game out of reach, and give London a 5-1 lead. At the 14:20 mark, Cramer netted his second of the game to give London a 6-1 lead and close out the scoring. Lincolns goalie Paul Town had a subpar night, stopping 34 of 40 shots in the loss.
This game came after an 8-3 loss to the Chatham Maroons (18-10-1-1) Sunday, which saw the Lincolns allow four unanswered goals in the third period to turn a close game into a blowout. Teddy McGeen scored a hat trick, while Brody Smith and Jeff Schrattner each had a goal and an assist. Town stopped 41 of 48 shots before getting pulled, while Kyle Morning stopped 3 of 4 shots in relief.
Their Friday night home game wasn’t much better, as they lost 6-1 to the Leamington Flyers (23-4-1-0). The Lincolns were shutout for 59:36 of the game. A five-point night, including two goals, from Scott Florence, and a four-assist game from Luke Sanko proved too tough for the Lincolns, while goalie Michael Barrett stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced. Emanuel Vella stopped 32 of 38 in the loss.
Ever since their 7-4 win over the Lambton Shores Predators (6-22-0-2) on Nov. 21, which put them in a playoff spot, the Lincolns have not won a game. Their is no defining issue though, as everything has been a problem. Their offense has been scoring only 2.14 goals a game during this slump, not enough to overcome the 6.00 goals they’re allowing per game. Their defense has been creating too much of a workload for the goalies, as the Lincolns face an average of 38.14 shots against per game during this streak. The goaltending hasn’t been much better, as they have a .843 save percentage during the streak.
The Lincolns play a couple games this weekend, with the usual home game tonight at 7:30 pm against the Strathroy Rockets (8-15-2-5), and a 7:30 pm game tomorrow at Lambton Shores against the Predators (6-22-0-2) before they take a break for the holidays.