By Pat Payton
CHATHAM – St. Marys Lincolns hit a couple of interesting milestones in their 2019-20 GOJHL season here Sunday night.
Firstly, Lincs reached the 20-win plateau with a 6-1 victory over the home-town Maroons. Secondly, it was also the team’s 11th road win of the campaign. Lincolns won 11 games all of last season.
Lincs have also allowed the fewest goals against (84) to date in the Western Conference.
“We play a good defensive style,” coach Trent McClement said from Chatham. “It also helps when you have goaltenders like Curty (Kyle Curtin) and Cy (Cyrus Martin). We keep everybody to the outside and don’t give up too many chances in the house.”
Five points behind Flyers
After weekend action, Lincolns (20-7-1-3) sit five points behind the second-place Leamington Flyers (24-7-0-1), with a game in hand. St. Marys is also seven points ahead of the fourth-place LaSalle Vipers (16-10-1-4). Everyone is chasing the front-running London Nationals (27-4-0-1).
Lincolns play their final two games before the Christmas break this week, travelling to Leamington Thursday for a 7:10 p.m. face-off and hosting London again Friday at 7:30 p.m. “When you’re up at the top of the standings, every game is huge,” McClement noted.
Lincolns 6 – Maroons 1
Playing their third game in four nights Sunday in Chatham, five unanswered third-period goals powered Lincolns past the Maroons after the teams had entered the final 20 minutes deadlocked 1-1.
Goals by Ethan Lamoureux, Brayden Hislop (powerplay) and captain Cayse Ton came in the first 10 minutes of the third, putting Lincs in control. Ryan Brown and Ton added goals 45 seconds apart late in the contest. It was Brown’s fourth goal in three games since joining St. Marys in a trade with St. Thomas.
“We came out to play in the third period,” coach McClement said. “We were cycling the puck really well all game. In the third, we got guys open in the slot and scored a couple of nice goals. But it was a hard-fought game; it always is in Chatham. They’re a good offensive team.
“For us, we needed a game like that in the third period, scoring five unanswered goals. It was a good way to end the weekend for sure.”
Ton finished the night with four points, while centre Joe Mazur had a goal and two assists, and newcomer Kyle Kuznik two assists. Twelve different Lincolns picked up at least one point.
After Mazur (his seventh) opened the scoring early in the middle frame, Lucas Fancy tied it for Chatham midway through the period.
Overall, Maroons out-shot St. Marys 34-32, with Kyle Curtin making 33 saves for his 13th win. Lincs are now 2-1 against the fifth-place Maroons (13-11-1-5).
Lincolns 3 – Nationals 2
At the PRC Friday night, Lincolns halted a 14-game London winning streak with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over the first-place Nationals in front of about 550 spectators.
It was Nats’ first visit to St. Marys this season, and they came in with the best road record (14-1) in the entire GOJHL The veteran London team has lost only four games to date this season, and three of them have been to St. Marys.
The game, which had a playoff-type intensity to it, was a physical, hard-fought battle from start to finish. Nationals appeared to want to send a message. They came out taking the body and trying to intimidate the younger Lincolns team. However, the strategy left London killing several penalties in the opening 20 minutes.
Lincs’ Ryan Brown opened the scoring on a powerplay at 18:53 of the first period, jamming in a loose puck.
Justr 22 seconds into the middle frame, Nats tied it with a shorthanded goal by Rewdy Scott. Lincolns held a 5-on-3 man advantage at the time. The visitors then took the lead at 6:44 on a powerplay goal by Josh LeBlanc. The goal came after St. Marys defenceman Max Mulder was given a questionable five-minute major for checking-from-behind.
Brown tied it 2-2 at 14:06 when he ripped a shot over London goalie Shawn Wiranata’s left shoulder on a powerplay, and Quinton Pepper (his seventh) scored what proved to be the winner with just 59 seconds remaining in the period.
Nationals pushed hard late in a scoreless third, trying to get the contest into extra time, but goalie Cyrus Martin stood tall to improve his personal record to 3-0.
Overall, shots were 30-27 in favour of St. Marys.
“It was like a playoff game tonight,” coach McClement said. “I think we’re learning how to play in these big games, and we always come to play against these top teams. We now have two wins against Leamgington and three against London.
“Now we have to bottle this and bring it out against teams like Chatham, St. Thomas, Komoka and Sarnia. It’s how you have to play to win. It’s how you have to play against London; you can’t run and gun with them. We played a real defensive style tonight, and really didn’t give them anything. You could see as the game went on, London was getting frustrated.”
Legionnaires 5 – Lincolns 3
In Sarnia last Thursday, Lincolns carried a 2-1 lead into the final 20 minutes but dropped a 5-3 decision to the Legionnaires. It ended a modest three-game St. Marys winning streak.
Veteran Josh Barraclough scored the winning goal on a powerplay with 2:38 to play, snapping a 3-3 tie. Drayton Todoroff added an empty-netter with 14 seconds left on the clock.
Joseph Ferrera, Nolan DeGurse and Jon Sanderson scored the other Sarnia goals. Ryan Burke, Ryan Brown and defenceman Brayden Hislop (powerplay) replied for the Lincs, with Joe Mazur earning two assists.
Overall, Lincolns out-shot the Legionnaires 32-29. Kyle Curtin took the net loss.
“It was a good game, but we didn’t capitalize on our chances,” coach McClement reported. “In this league, if you don’t bring an effort every night, you don’t win. Sarnia’s a hard barn to play in, but give credit to Sarnia they play the same way all the time. They would be a hard team to play in the playoffs.”
The seventh-place Legionnaires (10-16-1-2) play three times in St. Marys in the New Year.