By Scott Maxwell
The St. Marys Lincolns (5-18-1-2) struggled on Friday against the London Nationals (15-7-3-1), and a few costly mistakes led to a 4-0 loss.
The Nationals hit the Lincolns with depth, as the game saw 11 different players get points for London. Nats goalie Connor Hughes stopped all 30 shots that he faced to get his third career shutout.
The way the first period started, it didn’t look like would end up a 4-0 game. St. Marys kept up the pace with London for the first half of the period, including a couple instances when London was hemmed into their own zone. Unfortunately, bad bounces, soft goals, and atrocious defense from the Lincolns led to three goals from the Nationals in a span of 1:44, and just like that, the Lincs were down 3-0. St. Marys kept up the pressure for the remainder of the period, but they couldn’t get anything past Hughes.
Things went downhill for St. Marys in the second period, as turnover after turnover led to the Lincolns getting no chance to produce offense, even during four power plays. London only produced one goal in the second period though, as a rebound from a Trevor Dulong point shot led to a wraparound goal from Kevin Madden after Emanuel Vella thought he had the puck covered.
The third period didn’t feature too much action, with both teams exchanging shots, but no goals. Things boiled up late in the third, with a couple of scrums and fights in the dying minutes. But, in the end, the Lincolns were shutout for the fourth time this season, the third on home ice. Vella stopped 33 of 37 shots in a losing effort.
The Lincolns are consistently facing the same problem against the top teams, that being that they can’t produce offense. Their 5-3 win over the Chatham Maroons (16-8-1-1) is the only time this season that they’ve scored more than three goals against one of the top five teams in their division. There has been very little offense from the team, outside of the top line of Brent House, Graham Brulotte, and Nolan King, and when that line gets shut down, you get games like Friday night.
The Lincolns get some lighter competition this weekend, as they play their Friday night home game against the Sarnia Legionnaires (11-10-1-3) tonight at 7:30 pm. They follow up that with a road game tomorrow night in Strathroy against the Rockets (6-14-2-4) at 7:30 pm.