By Pat Payton St. Marys Lincolns passed the halfway mark in their 50-game regular schedule last week. Lincs (16-6-1-3), who have now played 26 games, sit in third place — three points ahead of LaSalle Vipers (14-9-1-4) going into GOJHL action this week. Looking ahead, Lincolns face a tough December schedule that includes five games on the road and just two at home. Lincs have road games in Komoka, St. Thomas, Sarnia, Chatham and Leamington, and two home games against first-place London before the Christmas break. “Especially this time of year, they’re all big games,” coach Trent McClement said. “Teams are stacking up and you see a lot of player movement at this time of year. The standings are pretty tight, especially the top four. We have a little cushion on the fifth-place team, which is Chatham. But if you start losing a bunch of games, other teams can start closing the gap. “Anytime you play the teams around you, like Leamington, LaSalle and Chatham, they’re all four-point games. And even against the lower-ranked teams, we have to work our butts off, so every game is huge.” –Lincolns acquired a new goaltender early last week in a straight cash deal. He’s Cyrus Martin, an 18-year-old from Elmira and the twin brother of Lincs’ forward Josh Martin. Cyrus Martin made his first start with St. Marys last Friday, making 31 saves in a 4-3 win over Leamington. “Cy showed us tonight that he’s as good as any other goalie in this league,” coach McClement said. “He and (Kyle) Curtin are going to push each other, and it will make them better as a goalie tandem here.” Martin spent the last year and a half with the Rockland Nationals, a provincial Tier II Jr. ‘A’ team in the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL). This season, he had an 8-4 record, with one shutout and a 3.32 goals-against average. Martin, who is 6 ft. and 183 lbs., was an eighth-round pick of the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit in 2017. “Rockland brought in another goalie,” coach McClement explained. “And with us having his twin brother, it was a perfect scenario for him coming here. He’s a good goalie who’s going to push Curt (Kyle Curtin). Curt is still our No. 1 starter and in my opinion is the best goalie in the league. “It’s always good to have healthy competition, and we have a lot of back-to-back games coming up.” With the addition of Martin, Lincolns released back-up goalie Gleb Poliakov, who had been with the team since the start of the season. Poliakov, 18, who had a record of 4-3, had not played in a game since Nov. 8. “Gleb is a good kid,” McClement said. “It’s one of the hard things about hockey. Gleb was an awesome teammate, an awesome kid to coach, and one of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet. But at the end of the day, there’s only room for two goalies on a team.” –Cayse Ton, 20, has been named the Lincs’ new team captain, replacing Blair Butchart who left the team early last month. Ton sits third in Lincolns’ scoring with nine goals and 17 points in 22 games. The feisty winger from New Liskeard also has a team-leading 102 penalty minutes. Ton is a player who comes to play hard every night. –In a straight cash deal completed Sunday, Lincolns traded forward Carter Schoonderwoerd, 17, to Stratford Warriors of the Midwestern Conference. The second-year forward from Mitchell, who requested the trade, had not played a game with St. Marys since Nov. 17. The 6 ft., 4 inch, 230 lb. Schoonderwoerd had six goals, seven points and 36 penalty minutes in 22 games. –Forward Kyle Kuznik appears to be a good addition for St. Marys. He clicked for a goal and an assist in last Friday’s win over Leamington, and played a strong all-round game. The 18-year-old Orillia native was recently acquired by the Lincs from Stratford in a straight cash deal. The 5 ft. 11 inch, 181 lb. Kuznik had four goals, six points and 29 penalty minutes in 15 games with the Warriors. “He’s a nice little pick-up,” coach McClement says. “Our GM Greg Smale is doing a great job picking up players whenever we need them. Kyle’s a hard-working kid, who fits our style. A goal and an assist in his home debut, you can’t beat that.” –Four St. Marys minor hockey products are playing for the Exeter Jr. ‘C’ Hawks this season. They are Owen Hartman, Connor Aarts, Blake Boreham and Jack Lucas. Owen McIntosh and George Hensel, members of the Cement ‘BB’ Midgets, have also played for the Hawks this season as affiliate skaters. After weekend action, Exeter (16-7-1-1) is tied for first place with Mt. Brydges in the Yeck Division. Hawks, coached by Ryan Shipley, reached the OHA provincial semi-finals last season.

By Pat Payton


KOMOKA – You have to give St. Marys Lincolns high marks for resiliency.

Lincs maintained their grip on third place in the Western Conference standings by fighting back to win two GOJHL games this past weekend.

Here Saturday night, Lincolns improved their road record to 8-2-1-2 with a 6-4 victory over the home-town Kings.

“In this league, there’s a lot of tough barns to play in,” Lincolns’ coach Trent McClement said. “It just goes to show you the character of this team . . . on the road or at home. We’re a hard team to play against. On any given night, we can beat anybody.”

Saturday’s win improved St. Marys’ third-place record to 15-5-1-3, good for 34 points and a four-point lead on LaSalle Vipers (13-9-1-3). Lincs started the weekend with a one-point lead on the Vipers.

Lincolns 6 – Kings 4

At Komoka Saturday, Lincolns let early 3-0 and 4-1 leads slip away, but two unanswered third-period goals gave St. Marys its third win in four games against the Kings to date.

First-period goals by Ethan Lamoureux, Quinton Pepper and defenceman Riley Coome (powerplay) staked the Lincs to a 3-0 lead. After Dario Beljo scored for Komoka in the final minute of the opening frame, Mason Mantzavrakos (his 13th on a powerplay) restored a three-goal advantage for Lincolns 55 seconds into the second period.

Late in the period, Lincs took a string of four consecutive penalties and the Kings tied the score 4-4 on goals by Tylor Lovie, Dawson Zheng (powerplay) and Toby Rizzo (powerplay). The three goals came in a span of just over three minutes.

“As a coach, you don’t like it when you’re up 4-1 and you take a bunch of penalties and let them back in the game,” coach Trent McClement said. “But we were resilient and we didn’t put our heads down. We just continued to work and we battled back.

“It was a big weekend for us and we needed these four points. You can’t say enough about our team this year. They come to battle . . . it doesn’t matter if we have a full line-up or not.”

Pepper’s second of the night, at 9:35 of the third, stood up as the winner. Thomas McLatchie (his 10th) added an insurance goal with 1:09 left on the clock.

Overall, Komoka out-shot St. Marys 35-30, but Lincolns held an 11-4 edge in the final 20 minutes. Goalie Kyle Curtin improved his personal record to 11-5-1-1 with Saturday’s win.

In addition to his goal, Coome collected three assists for a four-point night. Justin McIntyre contributed a pair of assists.

The eighth-place Kings slipped to 7-13-1-2 with the loss.

Lincolns 3 – Vipers 2 (OT)

At the PRC Friday night, Cayse Ton’s powerplay goal at 4:01 mark of a five-minute, 4-on-4 overtime period lifted Lincolns to a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over LaSalle in front of about 400 spectators. Riley Coome and Mason Mantzavrakos assisted on Ton’s eighth of the campaign.

It was a gutsy effort by the Lincs, who couldn’t get a puck past former OHL goalie Matthew Sbrocca for two periods and trailed 2-0 going into the third. The win halted a three-game losing skid for the Lincolns, while the loss ended a three-game winning streak for the Vipers. The extra point also moved St. Marys, temporarily, two points ahead of LaSalle in the battle for third place.

A Lincs’ turnover allowed Vipers to take a 1-0 lead at 6:01 of the first period on a goal by Abdul Abouzeeni.

Midway through the second period, Lincolns did a good job of killing off back-to-back 5-on-3 LaSalle powerplays. However, shortly after, the visitors went up 2-0 on a goal by Kyle Walker.

Lincs came out in the third and pushed the pace and it paid off with goals by Mantzavrakos (powerplay) and Joe Mazur before the period was seven minutes old. On Mazur’s tying goal, the big centre showed strong perseverance and seemed to surprise Sbrocca as he tucked the puck in from behind the net.

“It was just hard work and that’s what Joey gives us all the time,” coach McClement said. “We have a lot of players like that, and he finally got rewarded for his hard work.”

Banks in game winner

The game winner was a similar play. With St. Marys holding the man advantage, Ton banked in a shot off the Vipers’ netminder with just 59 seconds remaining in the first OT period.

“After the second period, I just told the boys to keep throwing pucks on net, and go banging and crashing to the net,” McClement said. “They can’t keep holding us down, and eventually they’re going to go in. Tonner is another player who works hard, and in overtime, he kind of bounced it in off the goaltender.

“Tonight was a total team effort,” the coach added. “It wasn’t just one guy; our whole team was going. We were battling and picking each other up. Nobody quit. In a game like that, you’re proud of your team for sticking together. It was like a playoff game.”

Mantzavrakos finished the night with three points. Overall, Lincolns out-shot LaSalle 41-30, including 2-0 in OT. Curtin earned the net win.

“I thought St. Marys deserved to win tonight,” Vipers’ coach John Nelson said without hesitation. “Our goaltender kept us in the game in the second period. In the third period and overtime, I thought St. Marys out-played us and out-worked us. When St. Marys got their opportunities, they took advantage of them.

“As I just told our guys, Ws are for wins and Ls are for lessons.”

Lincs now have a 2-1 record against LaSalle. All three games to date have been decided by a goal.

Upcoming: Lincolns played the first-place Nationals (22-3-0-1) on Wednesday (Nov. 27) of this week in London. This Friday, Lincs have another huge game when the second-place Leamington Flyers (19-5-0-1) come to town for a 7:30 p.m. face-off. Following weekend action, Flyers had a five-point lead on the Lincolns.

With the Snipers ringette tournament taking place Dec. 6-8 at the PRC, Lincs won’t have a home game on Friday, Dec. 6.