By Pat Payton
St. Marys Lincolns have to quickly forget January and start focusing on February.
After going 3-5 last month, the third-place Lincs have to use their eight remaining regular-season games this month to prepare for the Western Conference playoffs. That’s the message from coach Trent McClement.
Lincolns were 2-5 in their first seven games in January, allowing fourth-place LaSalle Vipers to start closing the gap between the two teams. However, Lincs got back to their winning ways this past weekend, completing their January schedule with a 4-0 win over Sarnia Legionnaires last Friday and then starting February with an 8-1 romp over St. Thomas Stars Saturday.
“In Junior hockey, you want to be rolling going into the playoffs,” McClement says. “We had a good November and December, but we didn’t have the best January. February is a fresh new month, and we have to use it to get ready for the playoffs.”
After this past weekend, St. Marys (24-11-3-4) had four games on the road and four at home before the playoffs.
“It’s about striding in the right direction going into the playoffs,” McClement continued. “It’s more about playing the right way. And the wins will happen if we play our way. I don’t really have a goal when it comes to wins and losses . . . it’s more about how we’re playing. We just have to take care of business.”
–Lincolns injury report. Forwards Josh Martin and Ryan Brown are likely both out of the St. Marys line-up until the first round of playoffs with upper-body injuries.
–Lincs’ Alumni group held a special night this past Saturday, honouring all surviving players and executive members from the inaugural year (1956-57) to the 1962-63 championship season.
Some of the former players and executive members and their wives from that era who sat down to dinner in the End Zone room included: Ernie Little, Larry Hossack, Charlie Vrana, Gerry Petrie, Joe Stevens, Mike Mattiussi, Bernie Lawrence, George Cifa, Ross Marshall, Len Hawkins, John Hudson, Doug Caley, Jacques Cousineau, Fid Fowler and Bob Holden.
Petrie, a former Lincs player, was guest speaker. After his playing days, he became a player agent representing over 100 professional athletes in the NHL, CFL and Major League baseball. One of his first clients was Montreal Canadiens’ great Jean Beliveau. He also represented players such as Gary Carter, Terry Francona, Willie Davis, Guy Lafleur, Gordie Howe and Tim Kerr over a span of 17 years.
Great job by the Lincolns’ Alumni committee organizing the night.
–Chatham coach Tyler Roeszler says Maroons are focusing on improving as they head towards the Western Conference playoffs.
“It’s always in the back of your mind that they (St. Marys) could be a potential playoff opponent,” Roeszler told the Independent during a recent stop at the PRC. “St. Marys has an older team than we do, and are deep at the forward position and have strong goaltending. They play a similar style to us, with skilled, fast players who want to get after the puck.
“We’re just trying to build our game, with five weeks to go before the playoffs. We’re happy with our team, but we want to improve over the next month. When we play well, we can play with the best teams in the league.”
–St. Marys native Kaleb Pearson is tied for fifth in team scoring with 17 goals and 32 points in 48 OHL games with the Owen Sound Attack. The 19-year-old Pearson, a right winger, has the third-most goals on the team to date.
After this past weekend, Owen Sound (23-19-3-3) is in fourth place in the Midwest Division.
Teammate Sam Sedley, also of St. Marys, was recently named the Attack’s Academic player-of-the-month for December. The 16-year-old defenceman completed the month with an average of 87.75 per cent, including 97 per cent in Grade 11 Math, 74 per cent in Grade 11 English, 90 per cent in Grade 12 Leadership, and 90 per cent in his two period co-op.
Sedley received his academic award from Georgian College’s Fred Varkaris, Dean of the Owen Sound campus. He was Owen Sound’s fourth-round pick last summer, 70th overall.