Lincolns have almost 75 prospects at Spring Camp on weekend
By Pat Payton
There will be a new playoff champion in the GOJHL’s Western Conference.
Chatham Maroons ended London Nationals’ four-year reign (2015-19) last Wednesday night with a 6-5 overtime victory at Western Fair. With the win, the third-place Maroons knocked off the second-place Nationals in five games in the best-of-seven semi-final series.
Due to the Covid pandemic, there were no conference champions in provincial Jr. ‘B’ hockey the past two seasons.
–It appeared that there could be an upset in the making in the other semi-final when the fifth-place St. Marys Lincolns won the first two games against the first-place Leamington Flyers.
However, Flyers rallied and came back to win the next four. But it was a series where the Leamington club probably gained a lot of respect for the Lincs. Lincolns gave the Flyers all they could handle–especially in the first five games.
“St. Marys came out of a seven-game series with LaSalle and then really took it to us in the first two games,” Leamington coach Dale Mitchell said. “It showed a lot of character on St. Marys’ part. They are very structured and sound defensively, and we knew it was going to be a tough series.”
–Why did the series momentum swing to the Flyers after the first two games, Lincs’ GM Greg Smale was asked.
“In my opinion, there were a couple of factors,” he replied. “At the end of the season, we were fighting for fourth place with a whole bunch of injuries. In the first round, we came up against LaSalle, a really good hockey team. It was a gruelling series and they took us to seven games.
“We had the adrenaline and momentum coming out of that series and it helped us to get off to that great start against Leamington. But you could soon see that our tough series and Leamington’s easy series against Strathroy became a factor.
“Our injuries caught up with us, but Leamington’s a good hockey club. We were going against the No. 1 team in the conference. We took them to six games and I’m very proud of that. The guys didn’t quit . . . they just ran out of gas.”
Coach Jeff Bradley admitted that a lack of offensive production hurt his team’s chances against Leamington. Lincolns scored 12 goals in the six-game series, and only two in the last three games.
“When you only score 24 goals in 13 playoff games, it’s not enough,” Bradley said with a shrug. “I thought we defended well the entire playoffs, but you can’t win if you don’t score goals.”
–Leamington Flyers are a very skilled, well-coached, well-balanced, and good puck-handling team. They were the hottest team going into the West playoffs. In their final 16 regular-season games, Flyers went 13-3 to nail down top spot and then swept Strathroy Rockets in four games in the first round. It meant Leamington was 17-3 (in their previous 20 games) going into the semi-final series against St. Marys.
Lincs’ coach Bradley also tipped his hat to the Flyers.
“Leamington is the best team in the league for a reason, and we put up a good fight,” Bradley said following Game 6 Friday. “We thought we had ways to beat them, but their skill kind of took over at times.
“From our standpoint, it was a nice experience for the guys and some memories that the 20-year-olds will hold onto forever. Hopefully, we gave St. Marys a taste of what the future will be.”
–Seven 20-year-olds graduate from the 2021-22 Lincolns: captain Max Mulder, Eric Lalonde, Kobe Ferreira, Thomas Harbour, Joe Mazur, Myles Baker and Spencer Hazell. Mulder, a class act, said he had “four great years” in St. Marys.
Rookie Noah VandenBrink, 17, led Lincolns with five goals in the playoffs, including two game winners. He will be a good player in the OHL next season with Hamilton Bulldogs.
–In the Midwest, Elmira Sugar Kings will play Cambridge Redhawks in the conference final. In the Golden Horseshoe, Hamilton Kilty B’s will meet the St. Catharines Falcons for the conference title. Falcons have not lost in the playoffs to date.
–Almost 75 prospects attended Lincs’ annual ‘Spring Camp’ this past weekend at the PRC. Position-wise, there were eight goaltenders, 25 defencemen and 40 forwards. There were two intra-squad games Friday, four more Saturday, and a final ‘Green and White’ game Sunday. GM Greg Smale also did a power-point presentation to the group on Saturday.
Some of the local prospects who took part on the weekend included: goalies Kiefer MacNeil and Nic Kiestra, Rourke McEwan, Mason Boonstra, Jimmy Schiedel, Zach Rooney, Ryan Hodkinson, Peyton Lobb and Curtis Taylor.
–Last Tuesday night during Game 4, the Lincolns honoured the two U15 boys teams from St. Marys minor hockey which qualified for their respective OMHA championship tournaments.
The ANAF U15 ‘BB’ Rock, coached by Mark Brintnell, were provincial finalists in their 16-team tournament in Barrie. They carried a 2-1 lead into the third period, before losing 3-2 to the Midland Centennials. It was their only defeat of the tourney.
During the Shamrock regular schedule, the ANAF U15 ‘BB’ team went undefeated with a 16-0-4 record.
The Frayne Custom Cabinets U15 A-E team, coached by Gord Cookson, had an outstanding season as well–winning their Regional Silver Stick tournament in Collingwood last November. At Provincials, the Rock lost 3-2 in the semi-finals to Dresden Jr. Kings, who went to win the Ontario title in Windsor.
During the SHL regular season, the Frayne U15 team finished in second place with a solid 16-5-2 record.