By Pat Payton
St. Marys Lincolns are off to an 0-2 start in their four-game pre-season schedule after a pair of home-ice losses at the PRC this past weekend.
After opening with a 4-3 defeat to Cambridge Redhawks Saturday afternoon, Lincs gave up three third-period goals and dropped a 3-0 decision to Stratford Warriors Sunday night. Both Cambridge and Stratford belong to the eight-team Midwestern Conference.
Lincolns’ head coach Trent McClement said he wasn’t too concerned with the losses, but acknowledges that the team needs to shore up certain areas.
“It’s pre-season, so there’s definitely things we need to work on,” McClement said following Sunday’s loss to the Warriors. “We definitely have to get better on our 2-on-1s; we’re not creating opportunities. On odd-man rushes, you should at least get a goal-scoring chance, and we’re not really creating anything.
“On the positive side, I liked the compete level from some of our younger guys. Guys like (Jacob) Bloomfield and (Ethan) Lamoureux had good games tonight, and (Ryan) Burke has been really good on the draws. He’s a smart player who always has his head up and sees his teammates.
“There’s some good things happening, but there’s some things we have to work on in practice. I’m not too concerned though; it’s still too early to be concerned,” he added.
Warriors 3 – Lincolns 0
At the PRC Sunday night, the fast-paced game was scoreless for over 48 minutes, and then the Warriors struck for two goals–just 11 seconds apart. Luke Eurig scored the first goal and drew an assist on the second by Zac McCann.
Jake Murray scored the third Stratford goal, shorthanded, with just over three minutes to play. With Lincolns holding the man advantage, Murray stole the puck in the centre-ice area and then broke in and slipped the puck under Josh Johnson to salt the game away.
Overall, Warriors out-shot the Lincs 33-32. Tim Kerkoff and Johnson split the goaltending chores for St. Marys. Kerkoff played ‘AA’ Midget in London last season, while Johnson was a member of the Waterloo ‘AAA’ Midget Wolves a year ago.
“I thought both of our goalies played really well tonight,” McClement noted. “Kerkoff was really good in the first period when Stratford could have popped in three.”
Stratford used two veteran goalies, Rhett Kimmel and Tyler Parr.
Lincolns dressed 10 veterans from last season, and the Warriors three. A Stratford scout says Warriors will ice a “very young squad” in 2019-20.
Redhawks 4 – Lincolns 3
On Saturday afternoon at the PRC, Lincolns held a 2-1 at one point in the second period, but Cambridge replied with three straight goals and then hung on for the win.
Assistant coach Tyler Duarte admitted that Lincs didn’t shoot the puck enough when they had good chances.
“We did a couple of good things out there today, but offensively I would have liked to have seen us shoot the puck more,” Duarte said. “We were trying to be too cute. Guys are trying to make this hockey team, and individual stuff isn’t going to get you anywhere.
“If we would have shot the puck more, we could have popped in six or seven goals today. But give credit to the Cambridge goalies, they played well, too.
“Moving forward, we just have to shoot the puck more. At the end of the game today, we had at least three 3-on-2s, and every time we tried to make that pretty pass instead of putting the puck on net.”
Two for McIntyre
Redhawks led 1-0 after the opening 20 minutes, but a pair of goals by veteran Justin McIntyre put Lincolns ahead by the 14-minute mark of the second period. The first McIntyre goal was unassisted, and the second came on a powerplay with newcomers Ryan Burke and Ethan Lamoureux assisting.
Cambridge tied it 2-2 with four minutes left in the middle frame, and then scored back-to-back goals to grab a 4-2 advantage by the 10-minute mark of the third. Lamoureux, a newly-signed winger from Ilderton, pulled St. Marys to within a goal with just over six minutes remaining.
Dustin Pepper and McIntyre had great chances late in the contest, but couldn’t convert them. Lincs pulled their goaltender with 1:17 left on the clock, but couldn’t push the game into extra time.
Sean Andrus, from Oshawa, and Duncan Rolleman, from New Hamburg, split the goaltending duties for Lincolns. Overall, Cambridge out-shot St. Marys 31-26.
Lincs dressed seven returnees from a year ago, while Redhawks had three veterans in their line-up.
Upcoming: Lincolns’ final two pre-season games are this weekend. They travel to Stratford Friday for a rematch with the Warriors. Game time at the Rotary complex is 7:30 p.m. The following day, Lincs are in Hespeler to play Cambridge. Opening face-off against the Redhawks is 7 p.m.