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.