By Pat Payton
St. Marys Lincolns stopped Komoka’s five-game road winning streak with a convincing 8-1 victory over the Kings last Friday night at the PRC. About 600 fans watched the GOJHL game on ‘Snipers Night.’
With the win, Lincs (22-9-3-3) moved eight points up on the idle LaSalle Vipers (18-13-1-5), who currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference standings. Following weekend action, both teams had played 37 games.
Eight different St. Marys players scored the goals as Lincs built period leads of 3-0 and 6-0. Sharing the Lincolns’ scoring were Ryan Brown, Josh Martin, Nathan Small, Kyle Kuznik, Riley Coome, captain Cayse Ton (his 15th), Thomas McLatchie (his 12th) and Justin McIntyre.
Coome and McLatchie both connected on the powerplay as Lincs went 2-for-5 with the man advantage. Defenceman Small and centre Jacob Bloomfield both earned two assists. Twelve Lincolns picked up at least one point.
Strong start for Lincs
Lincolns capitalized on their chances in the opening 20 minutes as Brown, Martin and Small scored for the home team. Goals by Kuznik, Coome and Ton, before the middle frame was nine minutes old, put St. Marys fully in control at 6-0. After the Coome goal, Kings replaced starting goalie Nathan Young with Bola Rahul. In the dying seconds of the period, goalie Cy Martin stopped a shorthanded breakaway by Komoka.
“Our starts have been really good lately,” coach Trent McClement said. “Our biggest weakness has been our second period and keeping leads. But tonight, I thought it was one of our best efforts for the whole game. All in all, it was a strong game for us.”
Martin lost his shutout bid with 7:20 remaining in the third when Cole Kimble scored for the visitors. McIntyre completed the scoring just 10 seconds later.
Overall, Kings out-shot the Lincs 28-26. Cy Martin improved his personal record to 4-1-1 with the victory.
Lincolns’ win was their fifth in six games against the Kings this season. It was also the second time this season that St. Marys has scored eight goals in a game against Komoka. Kings are in seventh place with a 14-20-1-3 record.
Coach McClement reiterated that Lincs have to remember to come to play every night.
“No team in our league is bad,” the coach pointed out. “We’ve lost once to every team in our division. Anybody can beat anybody, and you have to be ready to go every game. And it’s important to get a good start, especially at home.
“Tonight, we followed our game plan to a T. We scored when we got our chances and we also kept them off the board for the most part.”
Looking at potential playoff opponents
With Lincolns sitting in third spot and the regular schedule winding down, McClement has been looking at teams that are potential first-round opponents in the playoffs.
“We’ve been looking at Strathroy and Chatham, and even Komoka,” he said. “They’re all close in the standings and we’ve been studying them a little bit. For me as a coach, I’m trying to get my team to play a certain way that I think wins in the playoffs. It’s a full 60 minutes, and we’re not losing our heads and taking stupid penalties.
“We’re not a team built like London or Leamington. I think we’re just as good as those teams in different aspects of the game, and we play a different style. We’re just trying to fine-tune our game right now and get on a roll as we head towards the playoffs.
“You don’t want to peak too early in the season, but I think now is the time to start peaking and roll into February on a high.”
–Lincolns’ leading scorer Mason Mantzavrakos (46 points) sat out last Friday night’s home game due to illness.
–Lincs’ game Saturday night in Strathroy against the Rockets was postponed due to inclement weather. It hadn’t been re-scheduled at press time this week.
–Lincolns return to action this Thursday in Sarnia against the eighth-place Legionnaires (12-22-1-3) at 7:10 p.m. On Friday, sixth-place Chatham Maroons (15-15-1-6) come to town for a 7:30 p.m. face-off.
Next Wednesday, Jan. 29, Lincs travel to LaSalle for a big head-to-head game against the Vipers at 7 p.m.
–Lincolns have now won twice as many games (22) than they did all of last season.