By Pat Payton
Prior to last Friday night’s game at the PRC, St. Marys Lincolns honoured rookie forward Ryan Burke as their St. Marys Buick GMC player-of-the-month for December.
The 16-year-old rookie from London collected two goals and eight assists for 10 points in seven GOJHL games last month. Burke received a congratulatory plaque from Lincs’ vice-president Bill Lowe.
–It was ‘Snipers Night’ last Friday at the Lincolns-Komoka Jr. ‘B’ game, and two St. Marys U-8 ringette teams, plus members of Learn to Skate, sang the national anthem.
Also, between the first and second periods, the U-14 Provincial team and the U-16 Regional team entertained the crowd with a 10-minute game.
–St. Marys native April Clark, 22, is again leading the Western Mustangs women’s hockey team in scoring. In fact, Clark is now the all-time leading scorer at Western with 50 goals and 103 points. The previous UWO record for a women’s hockey player was 102 points.
After this past weekend, the fifth-year forward has eight goals and 19 points in 16 games. In a game at Ryerson last Saturday, Clark had a goal and an assist in a 2-0 Western victory. She has 15 points in her career against Ryerson. In five games at Ryerson (the old Maple Leaf Gardens), Clark had eight goals and four assists for 12 points.
Selected as a First Team All-Canadian, OUA player-of-the-year, and Western’s Female Athlete-of-the-Year last season, April Clark is a co-captain with the ‘Stangs this year. She is tied for second in the OUA in points (19), tied for second in assists (11), and tied for first in powerplay goals (4).
Clark, who is studying nursing at Western, was a guest of the recent ‘Girls Rock the Rink’ promotion in St. Marys. The DCVI grad was one of four women who dropped the ceremonial first pucks just prior to the Lincolns-Chatham game.
–Lincolns’ Alumni group will hold a special night Saturday, Feb. 1, honouring all surviving players and executive members from the inaugural year to the 1962-63 championship season.
About 30 former players and executive from that era are expected to attend. After dinner in the End Zone room, they will sit in a reserved seating area for the St. Marys-St. Thomas game.
–Prior to the Jan. 10 St. Marys-London game, Lincs’ Alumni group honoured Paul Vanderspank, a former team captain who played five seasons in St. Marys (1972-77). The big left winger from Belmont was captain when the Barry Hearn-coached Lincolns won the All-Ontario title in the spring of 1976 in Collingwood.
“I’m really grateful for the recognition after all this time,” an emotional Vanderspank told the Independent. “To come here and see all the old friends and teammates, it’s just great. We had so much support here all through my five years here in St. Marys. And when we had our All-Ontario season, it was just fantastic.
“I would have to say fate had a lot to do with (coming to the Lincolns). During the years I played minor hockey in Belmont, Brian Dundas and I became friends. After I made the Lincolns, Brian and I became even better friends and linemates along with Doug Kennedy.
“One night, Dunny took me on a snowmobile run. It was a blind date and he introduced me to my wife Debbie (Johnson).”
As a rookie, Vanderspank also remembers playing on a line with veterans Randy Preszcator and Rick Fifield. “Teammates are what it’s all about,” he summed up. “You play all season long with them, and you play for each other.”
–Last Tuesday, Jan. 14 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, two former Lincs–Scott Driscoll and Tyson Baker–worked the NHL game between the Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils.
–Leamington Flyers’ coach Cam Crowder gave Lincolns’ coach Trent McClement a nice compliment during a recent stop in St. Marys.
“Honestly, St. Marys is a really good team,” Crowder said. “They’re one of the best coached teams in our league and he’s doing a really good job. St. Marys has put a great team on the ice, and they play the right way.”
–Leamington added another offensive weapon recently, acquiring forward Nick Smith from Soo Thunderbirds of the NOJHL.
The 20-year-old Soo native compiled 18 goals and 42 points in 30 games this season with the Thunderbirds, and was the team’s leading scorer as well as the eighth leading scorer in the NOJHL. Over four seasons, Smith had 91 goals and 110 assists in 180 games as a member of the Thunderbirds. “It’s easier to score 5-on-5 having a guy like him,” coach Crowder said.
Flyers also obtained defenceman Hayden Johnston from LaSalle Vipers before the Jan. 10 trade deadline.
Crowder admitted that he’d like to get first place before the regular schedule wraps up late next month.
“We’re going to need a little help to get it done, but more importantly you want your team playing well going into the playoffs,” he said. “The way things are looking, you’re going to face a really good team in the second round. If you can avoid it, that’s great.
“Going forward, we like our team. We have a good core and a good culture. And to go with that, we’ve added some high-end guys (in recent deals).”