Lincolns get seven new skaters on players’ cards

Lincolns get seven new skaters on players’ cards

Two highly-touted 16-year-olds among the players signed early last week  (subhead)

By Pat Payton

Early last week, St. Marys Lincolns’ director of hockey operations/GM Greg Smale announced the signings of seven new skaters.

Owen Van Steensel, Jack Piper, Eric Smith, Diego Sabino, Nathan Marques, Josh Short and Cole Schnittker will suit up for the Lincs when the 2020-21 Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) season is expected to begin next fall. Smale received the players’ cards from the OHA on June 1.

Highly-touted 16-year-olds

Van Steensel and Piper are two highly-touted 16-year-olds that the Lincolns are thrilled to have.

“They are two really good players,” Smale told the Independent. “I can’t remember another time when any team in Jr. ‘B’ could get two kids that highly drafted.”

Van Steensel, an Ilderton resident, was captain of the Elgin-Middlesex Minor Midget Chiefs last season and led the Alliance League with 23 goals and 62 points in 33 games. Earlier this year, the left winger was selected in the fourth round, 63rd overall, by the OHL’s North Bay Battalion.

“Whenever you get a local kid of that calibre, a fourth-round pick, that’s exciting,” Smale said. “When we interviewed him, we found him to be a great kid from a great family, so he just fits right in.”

Piper led the York Simcoe Minor Midget Express in scoring with 32 goals and 46 points in 33 games in the ETAHL. Earlier this year, the centre was drafted in the fifth round, 90th overall, by the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. He hails from the town of Schomberg (just east of Orangeville).

“Piper is competitive, a workhorse and almost averaged a goal per game in a competitive loop,” Owen Sound’s Director of Player Development Sean LaFortune said on the Attack website.

Smith, a 17-year-old forward, was captain of the Elgin-Middlesex ‘AAA’ Major Midgets last season. In 32 games, the Lucan resident had 13 goals, 27 points and 68 penalty minutes.

Smith played one game as an affiliate player with the Lincs and earned two assists.

Sabino, a 17-year-old right winger, had 11 goals and 24 points in 35 games with the Huron-Perth Major Midget Lakers. He calls London home.

Sabino played five regular-season games for St. Marys last season, picking up two assists. He also dressed for one playoff game. Sabino has the potential to be an offensive contributor for the Lincolns.

Marques is a 17-year-old defenceman from London. Last season, he played for the London Jr. Knights ‘AAA’ Major Midgets and had two goals and 17 points in 35 games.

Caught Lincs’ attention

Short, a 6 ft., 1 inch, 210 lb. forward, had 23 goals and 34 points in 41 games with the Dorchester Jr. ‘C’ Dolphins last season. The 17-year-old Londoner added nine goals in nine playoff games which caught the attention of the Lincolns.

Schnittker was actually acquired by the Lincs from St. Thomas Stars at the Jan. 10 trade deadline last season. The 18-year-old forward came with 20-year-old veterans Brock Trichilo and Jake Robinson. In exchange, forwards Quinton Pepper and Ethan Lamoureux went to the Stars.

Schnittker, from London, dressed for one game with St. Marys as an affiliate player. He played the final eight games of the 2019-20 season with Thamesford Jr. ‘C’ Trojans, collecting four goals and nine points. He added five points in seven playoff games.

Smale admits that the coronavirus pandemic restrictions have presented more challenges when recruiting new players. But the GM says the work he and the Lincolns’ scouting staff did over the course of the entire 2019-20 season has paid dividends.

“Recruiting has definitely been more difficult, more phone calls,” Smale said recently. “I think where we have a slight edge, we did a lot of scouting throughout last season. We created a database and we gathered a lot of information.

“Now, we lost out on watching kids in the playoffs, and when the games really mattered, but we feel pretty comfortable with the information we gathered throughout the season. Doing the work early has definitely paid off.”


–The family of Thérèse ‘Terry’ Helene (Godreau) Moore announced her passing at the Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital on Thursday, May 28 at the age of 89 years. She’s the beloved wife of the late Stan Moore (2006), who coached the Lincs to their first All-Ontario championship in 1962-63.

He was also the town’s recreation director for many years.