By Pat Payton
St. Marys Lincolns’ team goals-against record is the best in the Western Conference to date. After 10 games, Lincs (7-1-1-1) have allowed only 18 goals against.
“This year, we’ve played really well defensively,” coach Trent McClement said. “It’s something that we’re taking pride in. Last year in the first three games, we gave up something like 20 goals.
“If you want to win in this league, especially in the playoffs, you have to play good defensive hockey. It’s not a switch you just turn on. We’re still learning; there’s some areas where we’re still making mistakes. It’s something we’re working on to get better all the time.”
–A big reason for Lincolns’ 1.8 goals-against record has been the stellar play of 18-year-old goaltenders Kyle Curtin and Gleb Poliakov.
Curtin (4-1-1-1) has a 1.21 goals-against average and a .959 save percentage (best in the entire GOJHL). He has allowed only nine goals against in his seven starts. Poliakov (3-0) has a 3.00 G.A.A. and an .862 save percentage.
Curtin, meanwhile, was recently named Western Conference goaltender-of-the-month for September.
–Former Lincs’ defenceman Tyler Alexander has joined St. Thomas Stars as a free agent. The 17-year-old Ilderton native was released outright when St. Marys recently acquired defenceman Nathan Small from London Nationals for the rights to defenceman Ryan Martin.
Martin played for the Lincolns (2015-16) as a 16-year-old and then spent the last three seasons with the OHL’s Erie Otters. After being released by Erie this fall, the 20-year-old Londoner opted to join the Nats, but Martin’s Jr. ‘B’ rights still belonged to St. Marys.
–St. Marys natives Kaleb Pearson, 19, and Sam Sedley, 16, were recently interviewed by CTV Sports about the Owen Sound Attack’s good start to the Ontario Hockey League season.
The Attack recently went into Barrie and pounded the home-town Colts 10-0.
–Strathroy coach Jason Furlong says the Rockets have more speed and skill than a year ago. He has “about a dozen” returnees from the 2018-19 Strathroy squad, with an average team age of 18.
“We have a lot of young guys who are creative with the puck and can score,” Furlong said last Friday at the PRC. “We also have that speed that can create that offence for us. Now, it’s getting used to the speed of the league and playing against older guys. Obviously there’s a learning curve involved with it, but we’re making the adjustment and we’ve been playing pretty well lately.
“We want to play a full 60 mintues from the drop of the puck. We’re not quite there yet, but I’ve been reasonably happy with our start to the season.”
–The perennially-strong Leamington Flyers, last year’s league finalists, have eight players back from the 2018-19 season. There are also seven Americans on the Flyers’ roster.
“We’ve had quite a turnover, but we like our group,” coach Cam Crowder said before a recent game in St. Marys. “We try and have the identity that we work hard every night, and we seem to be doing that so far. That’s big for us.
“We don’t set goals; we just try and get better every single day. I think we’re starting to learn and grow as a group. We’re a little bit older than last year. Some of our high-end young guys last season moved on to the OHL and Major Junior. We want to be a good team and I think we’re in the process of doing that.”
Crowder said a team strength is definitely speed. “We’re a pretty fast team and we try and use that speed to our advantage. We also have some guys who can play physical and wear the other team down.”
–Former Lincolns’ centre Alessio Luciani (2016-17) is now on an NCAA Division 3 scholarship at Adrian College in Michigan. Last season with Markham Royals, Luciani had 31 goals and 76 points to win the OJHL scoring title.
The Woodbridge native led the Lincs in scoring in his only season in St. Marys. Adrian College is a member of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association.
–Devon Driscoll, son of former Lincolns’ defenceman Scott Driscoll (1985-89), is now a member of the Welland Jr. Canadians of the Golden Horseshoe loop. Driscoll, 19, also a defenceman, is 6 ft., 4 inches and 238 lbs. and hails from Guelph.