By Pat Payton
PELHAM – Mission accomplished! St. Marys Lincolns set a team goal to go 2-0 this past weekend here at the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s annual Showcase.
And Lincs did just that with convincing victories over Brampton Bombers and Fort Erie Meteors.
“That’s what we were shooting for . . . to go 2-0,” head coach Trent McClement said on the bus ride home Saturday. “We had the goal to get four points this weekend, and we came down here and got our four points and we’re thrilled with that.”
McClement saw a lot of positives in the two Showcase wins.
“I think we stuck together as a team,” he said. “We created a lot of goal-scoring chances, which was nice to see, and we capitalized on them. Last year, we had lots of odd-man rushes, but didn’t create anything out of them. And it was nice to see us put the puck in the net, scoring a dozen goals down there. Last year, there weren’t too many games where we blew the other team out.”
Although pleased with the team’s good start, McClement says there are still some areas to work on early in the season.
“There’s some things we need to fix, but it’s early in the season,” he said. “And we’re going to correct those things that we thought could be better. You have to correct things in order to get better.”
Lincolns were one of six teams to win both of their games to open the GOJHL regular schedule. The other 2-0 teams were Hamilton, Listowel, London, Brantford and Leamington. The Showcase Weekend involves all 26 league teams playing two games against teams from other conferences.
Lincolns 7 – Meteors 2
Early Saturday morning, veteran forward Thomas McLatchie scored four goals to help power Lincolns to a 7-2 victory over Fort Erie, of the Golden Horseshoe loop. The 20-year-old McLatchie hails from nearby Niagara Falls.
“Anytime you have a 20-year-old in this league, you going to benefit from their experience,” coach McClement said. “I think when McLatchie played in St. Thomas last year, and didn’t get playing time, it kind of wrecked his confidence.
“With a fresh start this year, I think McLatchie is capable of scoring 20 goals for us. I thought that even before the season started. He can play anywhere in your line-up, and you can count on him for defensive-zone stuff, too. He’s a player that every coach wishes they had.”
McLatchie opened the scoring with two goals–just over three minutes apart–midway through the first period.
After the Meteors’ Nathan Reichel closed the gap to 2-1 on a powerplay in the opening minute of the middle frame, consecutive goals by Mason Mantzavrakos, McLatchie (powerplay) and Justin McIntyre put St. Marys ahead 5-1 just over six minutes into the period. Fort Erie’s Michael Fazio made it 5-2 at 7:45, but Cayse Ton answered for the Lincs 59 seconds later.
McLatchie completed the scoring in the final minute of the third after taking a pass from Braeden Burdett.
Eleven different players picked up at least one point for the Lincolns. In addition to McLatchie’s big four-point outing, centre Jacob Bloomfield collected three assists and Ton also had three points (1-2). Mantzavrakos and Burdett both finished the contest with two points.
New goalie Gleb Poliakov made 26 saves for his first win as a Lincoln. Overall, St. Marys out-shot Fort Erie 34-28 and took 46 of the 82 penalty minutes.
Lincolns 5 – Bombers 1
In their GOJHL regular-season opener Friday night, Lincolns struck early in a 5-1 victory over Brampton Bombers of the Midwestern Conference. Goals by veterans Blair Butchart and Quinton Pepper–before the first period was seven minutes old–gave Lincs a lead they would not relinquish.
Andrew Reynolds scored for Brampton midway through the opening frame, closing the gap to 2-1, but it’s the only puck that would get past goalie Kyle Curtin who made 22 saves for the win.
Carter Schoonderwoerd put St. Marys up by two again just 43 seconds into the second period, and Josh Martin and Jacob Bloomfield (empty net) added third-period tallies to cap off a solid, 60-minute effort.
Schoonderwoerd, Martin and Justin McIntyre, with two assists, all finished the game with two points.
Overall, Lincolns out-shot the Bombers 39-23, including 32-15 over the first 40 minutes. St. Marys also took 22 of the 40 penalty minutes.
Coach McClement was pleased with his team’s performance.
“We played a really good game,” he said. “We started out really well and potted those two early goals and got a little comfortable. Last year, there was a lot of individual play, but tonight was more of a team effort by our guys. We were throwing the puck on net and good things started happening. Everything went really well, and Curtin played a strong game, too.
“After the game, I had a NCAA Division 1 scout tell me that we were the best game of the day. We must have had five scouts outside our dressing room talking to our players. That’s what we’re trying to build here, and that’s getting kids scholarships.”
Home opener Friday: Lincolns’ home opener is this Friday, Sept. 13 against LaSalle Vipers, starting at 7:30 p.m. Next Wednesday, Sept. 18, Lincs are in London to play the Nationals, the defending Western Conference champions. Opening face-off at the Western Fair complex is 7:30 p.m.