By Pat Payton
It’s been eight seasons since St. Marys Lincolns won a Western Conference playoff series.
The 2019-20 Lincs accomplished that feat last Friday night, knocking off the Strathroy Rockets in five games in the quarter-finals.
The last time Lincolns won a playoff series was the 2011-12 season. That spring, Lincs defeated St. Thomas Stars in seven games before losing in six games in the semi-finals to London Nationals. Some of the players on that St. Marys team included: Sean Consitt, Brady Wiffen, Calvin Penney, Tyler Bryson, Danny Bryan, Tyson Baker and David Sproat.
–In the five-game series against Strathroy, Lincolns out-scored the Rockets 18-8. Lincs’ goalie Kyle Curtin had a 1.60 goals-against average, with two shutouts.
–The third-place Lincolns will now meet the second-place Leamington Flyers in the semi-finals.
During the regular schedule, Flyers held a slight 3-2-1 edge in six games. Four of the games were decided by just a goal, and another game ended in an overtime tie. Both teams also won in the other team’s rink.
Leamington had a 22-2-1 record at home this season. One of those losses and the tie came against the Lincs. Flyers’ coach Cam Crowder scouted Game 5 of the St. Marys-Strathroy series last Friday.
–Coach Trent McClement says Lincolns will have to play disciplined hockey against the veteran Flyers’ squad.
“We’ve had success against Leamington throughout the regular season, but Strathroy also had success against us, too,” McClement noted.
“We’re going to have to play a 60-minute game against Leamington. We can’t take a lot of penalties because a team like Leamington can burn you. They’re a team that’s beatable, but we have to play the right way. They will definitely be a tough opponent.”
The series opener is Thursday in Leamington at 7:10 p.m., with Game 2 Friday at the PRC at 7:30 p.m.
–Paul Schnarr, of Conestoga, won the Lincs’ 50-50 draw last Friday night. He’s the uncle of Lincs’ defenceman Brayden Hislop. Schnarr took home $811.
–Prior to last Tuesday’s GOJHL playoff game at the PRC, Lincolns honoured Kyle Kuznik as their St. Marys Buick GMC Player-of-the-Month for February.
The 18-year-old forward, who has been one of Lincs’ best players recently, had five goals and nine points in nine regular-season games last month. Kuznik, who hails from Orillia, has averaged almost a point a game since coming to St. Marys earlier this season in a trade with Stratford Warriors.
–Another Lincolns’ forward has also been honoured by the league. Centre Jacob Bloomfield has been named Western Conference defensive player-of-the-month for February.
The 18-year-old Bloomfield, who hails from Burford, had 34 points (11-23) in 47 regular-season games.