By Dan Rankin
Ten games into the season, the St. Marys Lincolns still lead their conference for fewest penalties taken, averaging 12-and-a-half minutes per game; the Leamington Flyers (335 PIMs), who beat St. Marys 5-1 last Friday, have been assessed over three hours more penalty minutes than St. Marys (125). It’s a positive stat, and one that, naturally, has resulted in the Lincolns spending a great deal of time on the power play – they’ve had 18 chances in their last three games alone.
They haven’t scored a single power play goal in that span. In fact, when you factor in Chatham’s two short-handed goals in their 7-0 win Sunday, the Lincolns are -2 on the power play over their last three games. St. Marys (2-7-0-1) is tied with the London Nationals for most generous power play in the GOJHL, with four shorthanded goals allowed. Maybe they should consider declining the penalty the next time the referee signals an infraction?
After their 7-0 shutout loss to Chatham Sunday, when St. Marys went 0-7 with the man advantage, the Lincolns’ power play is sputtering at a success rate of 14.3 percent. Their power play problems have been magnified on the road, where they have just two power play goals in 27 opportunities (7.4 percent). At home, things have been marginally better, as St. Marys players have scored power play goals seven times in 36 chances (19.4 percent).
To make matters worse, while St. Marys is taking very few penalties, their penalty kill has been less than 74 percent effective; allowing a goal slightly more than once every four penalties taken. Though the Lincolns were assessed just five penalties combined in the two losses over the weekend, those turned into three goals for their opponents; Leamington (9-1-1-0) went 1-for-3 on the power play, while Chatham (3-3-1-1) scored on both of their opportunities.
But beyond their special teams struggles, in their last three games St. Marys has allowed a combined 17 goals overall while scoring just three. They’re eighth in the conference in both goals for and goals allowed.
Despite a promising first period, the weekend got off to a rough start Friday night when St. Marys hosted the first-place Leamington Flyers. Brent House scored his team-leading seventh goal at 18:32 of the first period to tie the game at one apiece, assisted by Nolan King and Graham Brulotte. At that point, the Western Conference’s first place squad was only out-shooting St. Marys 8-6. That was the last goal the Lincolns scored last weekend. Leamington’s Derek Elliott led his team to the 5-1 win, scoring twice. The Flyers finished the game having out-shot St. Marys 44-20. Paul Town took the loss in net for the Lincolns, making 39 saves.
Two nights later in Chatham, the Maroons’ special teams put on a display, with forward Teddy McGeen notching an unassisted shorthanded goal in the first and teammate Barraclough knocking home another shorthanded marker the following period. Ian Faubert led his team with a power play goal and two assists for a three-point night. Chatham managed 50 shots on net in the 7-0 win, with goalie Parker Butler earning the 42-save shutout. St. Marys starter Ryan Langford took the loss, allowing five goals on 36 shots, before Town came on in relief.
St. Marys, who trails eighth place Lambton Shores (3-7-0-2) by three points, will hope for better luck this weekend when they play two home games, beginning with one against St. Thomas tonight at 7:30 pm, followed by a game against London Sunday night, also getting underway at 7:30 pm. They’re on the road in Sarnia next Thursday, Oct. 22. A mere two more wins on the season would surpass last year’s regrettable final standings placement of eight points.