By Pat Payton
HESPELER – Veteran Thomas McLatchie’s picture goal early in the second, five-minute overtime period lifted St. Marys Lincolns to a 2-1 victory over Cambridge Redhawks here Saturday night.
It was Lincs’ first win of 2019-20, leaving them with a 1-3 pre-season record.
“We played more of a team game,” GM Greg Smale told the Independent. “Before we went on the ice, the coaches stressed playing as a team. It was less about trying out and more about trying to execute as a hockey team.”
Now, real regular-season points are on the line, beginning at the GOJHL Showcase in Pelham, Sept. 6-8. Lincolns will play Brampton Bombers, of the Midwestern Conference, on the Friday, and Fort Erie Meteors, of the Golden Horseshoe loop, early Saturday morning.
Lincs’ home opener is Friday, Sept. 13 against LaSalle Vipers, starting at 7:30 p.m.
Lincolns 2 – Redhawks 1
In Hespeler Saturday, McLatchie fired the game winner at 1:25 of double OT from defenceman Max Mulder.
The game’s first two goals came in the first period. Lincolns’ rookie defenceman Sam Sedley opened the scoring at 12:29 from Austin Maietta and Kyle Crisp. Redhawks’ Nolan Foster tied it just 47 seconds later.
There was no further scoring (for over 52 minutes) until McLatchie ended the contest with a pretty goal. “He came down the wall and made a really nice power move on a defenceman, and then deked the goalie,” Smale reported. “It was a really nice goal.”
Sophomore Kyle Curtin, expected to be Lincs’ No. 1 puckstopper this season, and Sean Andrus, from Oshawa, split the goaltending duties. Andrus played “amazing,” Smale said, and is still in the picture.
Overall, shots were 31-21 in favour of Cambridge. Neither team scored on a combined 12 powerplay chances. Redhawks took 34 of the 66 penalty minutes.
St. Marys dressed nine veterans from a year ago, including six forwards. Cambridge played the majority of its team.
Warriors 4 – Lincolns 1
At the Stratford Rotary Complex Friday night, the game was closer than the final score might indicate. Lincolns generated plenty of scoring chances, but the home-town Warriors capitalized on a few more of their good opportunities in a 4-1 Stratford win.
“I thought this was a much better game against Stratford than the first time we played them (a 3-0 loss Aug. 18 in St. Marys),” Lincs’ coach Trent McClement said. “The pre-season is more about effort. You don’t really have structure in place yet; you don’t have powerplay and penalty-kill systems in place, so you base everything on effort and we had a much better effort.
“We didn’t score tonight, similar to our season last year. But if we’re going to be snake-bitten, I’d rather be snake-bitten now in pre-season.”
McClement says Lincs will practice five or six times before the GOJHL Showcase in Pelham. “We’re going to work on a bunch of things, and implement our systems,” he said. “Right now, I liked our effort and intensity tonight. We were just on the wrong side of some goals. We had our chances and they did, too . . . they buried their chances and we didn’t. That’s about the story of the game.
“Hey, I think right now, everybody is waiting for the (regular) season to start,” McClement added.
Three first-period goals
Three of the game’s five goals Friday came in the opening 20 minutes as the two teams set a fast, physical pace.
After Warriors’ Drew Ferris opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal at the 2:43 mark, Lincolns’ veteran Quinton Pepper tied it at 6:54 after taking a perfect pass from centre Blair Butchart. Stratford’s Jacob Uridil scored what proved to be the winner with 2:12 left in the period when he was left open in front of Lincs’ goalie Kyle Curtin.
Lincolns’ best period was the middle frame. They didn’t find the back of the net, but the team’s powerplay featured good puck movement and created good chances. Carter Schoonderwoerd was also denied on a clear-cut breakaway. “We definitely owned that period,” GM Smale remarked.
Uridil, a 20-year-old from Conestogo, made it 3-1 with his second of the night at 7:59 of the third, and teammate Zac McCann completed the scoring on a powerplay with just 70 seconds to play.
“We’re young and it’s going to be a learning process for us as we approach the regular season,” Stratford assistant coach Dave Schlitt said after the game. “We like what we see from our young guys. There’s some quickness and offensive skill; they just have to continue to make the adjustments and learn to play all 200 feet of the ice.
“We’ve had a very positive first two games against St. Marys and hopefully we can keep moving forward. We’re going to look to our (eight) veterans to set a good standard and how we want to play and practice,” he added.
Overall, Warriors out-shot the Lincs 38-33. Curtin went the distance for St. Marys, making 34 saves in his first pre-season start. Veterans Rhett Kimmel, acquired in a trade with Elmira Sugar Kings, and Tyler Parr split the goaltending duties for Stratford.