By Pat Payton To St. Marys Lincolns’ credit, win or lose, they’re going to fight to the bitter end. Lincs clawed their way back into the playoff picture by gaining three of a possible four points in two overtime battles on back-to-back nights last week. On Friday night at the PRC, Lincolns fought back from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to earn an exciting 4-3 OT victory over LaSalle Vipers. Approximately 500 spectators watched the game on ‘School Night.’ “We talked before the game, and said we have nine more games and we’re either going to make the playoff or we’re not,” St. Marys coach Trent McClement said afterwards. “But every night that we show up and lace up our skates, we’re going to be the hardest-working team. “That’s something we can control. We can’t control refs or sometimes bounces, but effort and how hard we work are things we can control. Tonight, I thought we were the harder-working team.” Friday’s win moved Lincs (10-25-3-2) to within five points of St. Thomas Stars (12-22-3-3), who currently own the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Stars almost gained another point last Friday, but Leamington Flyers scored with 10 seconds left in regulation time to win 4-3 in St. Thomas. Stars also lost 3-2 in Komoka Saturday. Season on the line Friday? After a rematch with the Vipers on Wednesday of this week in LaSalle, Lincolns host St. Thomas in their biggest game of the season to date this Friday at 7:30 p.m. A win will keep Lincs’ playoff hopes alive; a loss could end any chance of competing in the post-season. “I know we’re chasing St. Thomas and it’s a huge game, but every game down the stretch is huge,” McClement noted. “If we show how hard we work and show a gutsy effort every night, it’s going to lead into next year, too. All we can control is our games and our effort. Anything else, we can’t control. “If we lose Friday against St. Thomas, our (playoff) chances are probably slim. They go up another two points and it’s a four-point game. For us, every game down the stretch is like a Game 7. We’re trying to show these kids that every time they walk into this room, it’s all business.” Lincs have a 2-1-2 record against the Stars to date this season. Lincolns 4 – Vipers 3 (OT) At the PRC Friday night, Carson McMillan emerged the hero for Lincolns when he scored a picture goal at 2:53 of 4-on-4 overtime. After taking a pass from Tanner Hertel, McMillan burst past the LaSalle defence and beat goalie Jackson Bernard through the legs. Joe Mazur also assisted. “I just made a move and he bit,” McMillan explained. “I wheeled around him and the goalie dropped down. I saw a space in his ‘five-hole’ and just buried it. “It’s my biggest goal of the season for sure. Overtime winner at home . . . it feels great.” Goals by Jack Bowler (powerplay) and Spencer Paradis staked Vipers to a 2-0 first-period lead. Mason Goldie got Lincs back in the game with a powerplay goal at 5:45 of the middle frame. Aaron Shaw restored a two-goal advantage for LaSalle at 10:12, and it appeared the visitors were back in control. However, Lincolns stunned the Vipers with two goals–just 11 seconds apart late in the period–tying the contest 3-3. The marksmen were Justin McIntyre (his ninth) and Goldie (his 13th). Newcomer Thomas McLatchie assisted on both goals, giving him three helpers for the night. Both teams had a couple of good chances in the third, before McMillan (his ninth) decided it in extra time. “I thought it was a gutsy win tonight, definitely a deserved win for sure,” coach McClement said. “As you seen tonight, when we come together, we’re a good team. Our backs are against the wall, and every point we can get is big for us.” LaSalle held a slim 29-28 edge in shots, including 3-2 in overtime. Kyle Curtin got the net win for St. Marys, making 26 saves. The victory gave Lincs a 3-2 record against the fifth-place Vipers (18-16-2-3). Legionnaires 2 – Lincolns 1 (OT) At the Sarnia Arena last Thursday night, Aaron Jamieson scored just 37 seconds into 4-on-4 overtime to lift the home-town Legionnaires to a 2-1 win over the Lincolns. Lincs got one point for the OT loss. Both teams had one shot in the short-lived extra frame. After Ben Schoch gave Sarnia a 1-0 lead at 11:04 of the first period, Carson McMillan tied it at 6:01 of the middle frame from Carter Schoonderwoerd and Joe Mazur. Lincolns had two powerplay chances in the third period, but couldn’t capitalize. After more than 34 minutes of scoreless hockey, Jamieson scored to give the fourth-place Legionnaires (18-12-2-5) the win in the first minute of extra time. Overall, Sarnia out-shot St. Marys 43-28, including 21-7 in the second period. Kyle Curtin went the distance for the visitors, making 41 saves. Lincs are now 0-3-1 against the Legionnaires to date this season. The teams play twice in February and both games are at the PRC. Due to injuries and a suspension, Lincolns dressed three affiliate skaters: forward Lakin Hendry, and defencemen Peter Cascagnette and Jack Robinson. Notes: –Following action this past weekend, Lincolns have just eight regular-season games remaining–including five at home. Next Wednesday, Feb. 6, Lincs are in London to play the first-place Nationals at 7 p.m. –Lincolns held their ‘School Night’ promotion last Friday, with students from five local and area public schools invited. Libby McCurdy and Marlowe Graham, Grade 5 students at Little Falls school, sang the national anthem. Shooteroo participants were Pierce MacNeil, Donovan McGregor and Luke Richardson.

By Pat Payton


STRATHROY – The times are getting desperate for St. Marys Lincolns.

If Lincs hope to take part in the Western Conference playoffs, the time is now to start winning games. With only 10 regular-season contests remaining, Lincolns (9-25-3-1) sit eight points out of the final playoff position following weekend action.

Here Saturday night, Lincs failed to gain any ground on the eighth-place St. Thomas Stars when they dropped a 3-0 decision to the home-town Rockets. It was St. Marys’ fourth straight loss.

“We’re not out of it, but we soon have to get points,” Lincolns’ coach Trent McClement agreed. “With 10 games left, there’s a possibility of 20 points on the table. At the end of the day, you’re not out of it until you’re out of it.

“I’ve seen crazier things happen in hockey. If you win one game, you might go on a big roll. It can happen. At the end of the day, we are building for the future, but these are the moments that are the toughest to get through.”

Strathroy and St. Thomas played Sunday night in Strathroy. Stars made the Lincs’ climb even steeper when they defeated the Rockets 7-4. For the Stars (12-20-3-3), it was their first regulation-time win since mid-November.

Rockets 3 – Lincolns 0

At the West Middlesex Memorial Arena Saturday, there was no scoring for the first 34 minutes.

Michael Wood scored a shorthanded goal at 14:20 of the middle frame, and teammates Cody Clerc and Brenda Mairs added two more tallies before the end of the period to open up a 3-0 lead for the Rockets.

Lincolns out-shot Strathroy 11-9 in the third, but could not get a puck behind Josh Diamond. He shared the shutout with Vince Michelizzi, who left the game midway through the second period with an injury.

“It was an even game,” coach McClement reported. “Strathroy had their chances in the second period and buried them, and we didn’t score on our chances. It seem to be the difference in all these games lately.”

Overall, Lincs out-shot the Rockets 33-30. Kyle Curtin went the distance for St. Marys.

It’s the second time this season that Lincolns have lost 3-0 in Strathroy. Rockets (16-19-1-0) are tough at home. They are 12-5-1-0 at the West Middlesex rink, and 4-14-0-0 on the road.

Kings 8 – Lincolns 4

At the PRC Friday night, Komoka Kings doubled the Lincolns 8-4 for their fifth win in six games against St. Marys this season.

Lincs fought back from an early 3-1 deficit to tie the score 3-3 in the opening minute of the third period. However, Kings scored five of the next six goals as Lincolns continually got burned for turning the puck over in their own end of the ice.

“We didn’t take care of our zone in the third period,” a clearly frustrated Trent McClement said. “It’s something that we’ve had troubles with all year. Those bad turnovers are killing us . . . we’re leaving guys open in front of the net for wide-open shots.”

Trailing 3-1 after the opening 20 minutes, Lincs spent most of the second period killing penalties. All six penalties in the period were whistled against St. Marys, and the Lincolns’ fans and coaches expressed their displeasure with the officials as they left the ice for the intermission break.

Twenty-four seconds into the third, Mason Goldie’s shorthanded goal tied the score 3-3, giving Lincs new life. But it was short-lived as Komoka regained the lead for good just over two minutes later, and then scored what proved to be the winner at 6:31.

Goldie’s second of the night (his 11th) closed the gap to 5-4 at 8:11, but Kings took advantage of shoddy Lincolns’ defensive play and tacked on three more goals in the final five minutes. The visitors’ final goal was into an empty St. Marys net with 22 seconds remaining.

Joel Mazzilli and Cameron Welch each had two goals for Komoka, while the singles went to Joe Capirchio, Jacob Rochford, Dillon Ward and Ryan McAllister. Carson McMillan and Justin McIntyre scored the other Lincs’ goals.

“You’re always concerned when the other team comes back and ties it,” Kings’ coach Ron Horvat said. “It’s all about momentum. But after St. Marys tied it 3-3, we got back to our forecheck and getting pucks in deep. A push-back from us was needed.”

Overall, Lincolns out-shot the Kings 31-17, with Justin Richer taking the net loss. Lincs took 18 of the 26 penalty minutes, and had two key players–veterans Cayse Ton and Blair Butchart–tossed from the game with checking-from-behind penalties.

Komoka (16-18-1-1), which sits in sixth place, moved 12 points ahead of St. Marys with the win.


–This week, Lincolns travel to Sarnia Thursday to meet the fourth-place Legionnaires at 7:10 p.m. On Friday night, LaSalle Vipers come to town on ‘School Night’ at the PRC. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Next Wednesday, Jan. 30, Lincs make the long trip to LaSalle for a 7 o’clock face-off.

–Six of Lincolns’ final 10 regular-season games are on home ice. In February, Lincs complete their schedule with seven games and five are at the PRC.