By Spencer Seymour
The St. Marys Lincolns haven’t lost a game at the PRC since November 4th of last year, a streak that increased to 15 consecutive home wins with back-to-back victories on Saturday and Monday.
After the Family Day games concluded, the Lincolns were tied for second in the Western Conference with the London Nationals. The Leamington Flyers sit three points up on first in the West. Both London and Leamington have a game in hand on St. Marys. LaSalle is in fourth place, five points behind the Lincolns.
Lincs stifled, Barkley injured in 4-1 loss to Flyers
Head Coach Jeff Bradley told the Independent that, while definitely having some things to improve upon, their loss to the Flyers didn’t mean the sky was falling.
“It’s certainly disappointing but it doesn’t change our outlook on the team or the season,” said Bradley. “We will go over it, learn from it, and keep pushing forward, and hopefully, everyone will be a little bit better.”
Bradley added that some bad luck early in the game, both including unfavourable bounces and an injury to one of the Lincs’ top players, put the team too far behind to catch up.
“We were so excited for that game and the players were ready to go, but sometimes, when a series of unfortunate things happen, especially when you’re playing such a good team, it can be tough to get it back. I thought we did a really good job of responding, our second period was excellent, and we never quit on the game.”
During the first period, Lincolns’ defenceman Adam Barkley left the game due to a shoulder injury. Coach Bradley described how the injury affected the team for the rest of the game.
“It altered our powerplay. Ever since we switched the formation of our powerplay, that top unit has been operating at a very high clip and Adam is a big part of that. But even more basic than that, Adam is simply one of our best players. He eats a ton of minutes, the guys look up to him. So to have him go out so early, it’s definitely tough. It was a good opportunity for other members of our defence core to step and I thought they did a good job, it’s just tough playing such a strong opponent without one of your top players.”
Austin Keleher had the lone St. Marys goal in the second period assisted by Josh Tidgwell and Jacob Montesi. In the second, St. Marys outshot Leamington 16-5.
Five-goal second period lifts Lincs past Stars
Ethan Lamoureux had a pair along with goals from Michael Elliston, Jacob Chantler, and Owen Voortman for five goals in the first 11 minutes and 14 seconds of the second period in Saturday’s 8-5 win over the St. Thomas Stars.
The Stars took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission after Michael Levin scored twice in the opening period. Adrian Stubberfield posted the lone St. Marys goal in the first with a shorthanded marker facilitated on a two-on-one by a pass from Cole Schnittker.
Lamoureux and Elliston each scored just two minutes and 14 seconds into the second. Rourke McEwan earned an assist on Elliston’s goal and the St. Marys native received praise from the Head Coach.
“Rourke played with confidence and was making some really good plays,” Bradley said. “With the absence of Adam Barkley, we needed guys to step up, and Rourke did that on Saturday.”
Bradley added after the Family Day game that Rourke once again played very well and described the two home games as “a very good weekend” for the hometown rearguard.
“I thought we dominated, we did a lot of good things, and most of our game was good but our puck management wasn’t as good as we need it to be. It’s no secret that St. Thomas has two elite players that we wanted to make the night tough on which we did pretty well but we sometimes got away from being disciplined in our defensive structure.”
Matteo Lalama turned away 42 St. Thomas shots to earn the victory.
Family Day one of Lincs’ most complete games of the year
Although on paper, the score suggested that the Lincolns’ Family Day game against the Sarnia Legionnaires was a close game, in reality, St. Marys turned in one of their most complete and dominant efforts of the season as they beat the visitors from Sarnia 4-2.
The first period was especially dominant for the Lincolns who kept the play in the Legionnaires’ zone almost exclusively. However, goaltender Tyler Richardson held the Legionnaires in the contest, only allowing one goal on 17 shots in the first 20 minutes. Elliston scored the only goal of the opening stanza, giving him goals in three of his last four.
In the second, Sean Doherty found the back of the net to tie the game at one apiece heading into the third. Elliston struck again with his sixth goal in his last four games just 82 seconds into the final period, followed by Jaden Lee scoring on the powerplay one minute and 11 seconds later. Ryan Richardson cut the deficit back down to one but the game was sealed by an empty-netter from Chase MacQueen-Spence.
Bradley was thrilled with the team’s ability to refocus their efforts on the defensive side of the puck, saying that the Lincolns played “outstanding” on Monday afternoon.
“A big pet peeve of ours is when we have full control of the puck and we just give it away,” Bradley explained. “We showed a few clips of us doing that against St. Thomas and addressed it with the group before Monday’s game. To their credit, the players went out and executed close to perfectly.”
“I think, when we look over the video from [Monday’s] game, the players are going to see that we did a lot right and didn’t get rewarded as much as we deserved. It was a bit frustrating that pucks weren’t going in for us but I thought overall we were outstanding.”
Monday’s victory was the 15th straight home win for the Lincolns, while Saturday’s win continued the team’s stretch of not losing consecutive games since October 2nd and 7th. Bradley said that the success the team has experienced so far this season is very special, but not just from an on-ice standpoint.
“I think this has been a really good year and I don’t just mean on the ice. We have amazing fan support. The executive is fantastic, the training staff is excellent. Greg [Smale] has worked so hard to provide us with these players who are all good kids. Our coaching staff has really meshed well. We had a team trip to Detroit which was a success. Everyone involved with this team and everything we’ve done so far has been really positive.”
Carter George got the win in goal, making 18 saves. It was George’s return to the team after a week-long call-up to the Owen Sound Attack. George’s call-up coincided with the Attack’s Hockey For Hospice jersey auction, with the 16-year-old goalie’s jersey selling for $450.
The Lincolns played on Wednesday night in LaSalle and will wrap up their regular season schedule this Friday night at the PRC in a rematch of last Thursday against the Flyers.