By Pat Payton
LEAMINGTON – Prior to Hockey Canada cancelling all of its sanctioned activities (effective Friday, March 13) due to the on-going health concerns related to the Covid-19 pandemic, St. Marys Lincolns and Leamington Flyers played the first game of a best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final playoff series here last Thursday night.
Flyers won the game 4-1 in front of approximately 730 spectators.
Lincs’ forward Brock Trichilo opened the scoring late in the first period. It was his team-leading sixth goal of the playoffs.
Leamington replied with three unanswered second-period goals to take the lead for good. Wyatt O’Neil, Nicholas Beneteau and Jacob Kalandyk were the marksmen. Flyers’ Dylan Montie completed the scoring into an empty St. Marys net with 15 seconds left in the third.
“We had a good first period,” Lincolns’ head coach Trent McClement said from the bus coming home. “In the second period, we gave up a couple of chances and Leamington buried them. They’re a good hockey team with four solid lines. I thought we played really well in the third period. We had our chances to tie it up, but we just didn’t capitalize on them.
“It was kind of a weird game because both teams kind of knew before the game that the season was probably (going to be suspended).”
Tough pill to swallow
With the playoffs being cancelled, Lincs’ president Brandon Boyd admitted that it was a tough pill to swallow for the organization. He said the small-market team was very much counting on revenues from the second-round series.
“While the recent events are out of our control, I can’t help feel the disappointment of the players, staff and volunteers who have spent years building up to this point,” Boyd told the Independent. “St. Marys has been starved of competitive playoff hockey for years, and we were in the midst of a great ride. Ending this way stings in more ways than one, but this is a resilient group.
“The dedicated people of this organization know the work starts now to ensure we’re financially and competitively ready for the 2020-21 season. We can’t thank our fans and sponsors enough for their support this year. This is a special place to play, and we look forward to the next run together. We’re just going to have to roll up sleeves and work that much harder to get back to this spot,” he added.
Boyd said it was also a “sour way” for the 20-year-old players on the Lincolns to end their Junior careers. The six skaters graduating due to age are: captain Cayse Ton, Thomas McLatchie, Riley Coome, Ryan Brown, Jake Robinson and Brock Trichilo.
The club president noted that the Lincs’ spring camp, scheduled for Apr. 24-26 at the PRC, has also been called off.
“Hockey Canada has cancelled all sanctioned activities across Canada,” he said. “Some (Junior) camps aren’t until the end of May and they’re cancelled as well.”