By Pat Payton
The 2022-23 St. Marys Lincolns’ roster continues to take shape, reports Greg Smale, the GOJHL team’s hard-working Director of Hockey Operations/GM.
Lincs open training camp this Sunday, Aug. 14 at the Stratford Rotary Complex, the same venue where the team held several weekly skates this summer. “We will probably have 30 players (including returning players) at camp,” Smale said in a recent interview with the Independent.
The GM acknowledged that there are “tough decisions” ahead before the Lincolns host Strathroy Rockets in their Western Conference home opener on Friday, Sept. 9.
“Spots at camp will be tough to crack, but that’s a good problem to have,” Smale said. “We’re becoming a destination (for players), and that’s our goal.
“It’s coming together; I like the team. Forward-wise, we’re really good. Defence-wise, we’re still working on it. I’m getting more and more calls every day, so I’m going to have to make some really tough decisions. Off the ice, we’ve worked really hard to build a team.”
Lincs’ returning head coach Jeff Bradley likes what he sees on the ice as the team approaches training camp.
“We have a hungry group of returnees who get what we’re trying to do here,” Bradley said prior to a workout in Stratford last Thursday night. “We think the recipe for continued success is to have players from the previous year share the same message from last year to this year, so there’s not much of a learning curve when it comes to systems and stuff like that.
“We’ve made some really good acquisitions. Greg has done a fantastic job and brought in some winners, kids who have won in the past with other organizations. We’re extremely excited about this upcoming season.”
Acquire former OHL goalie
Lincolns announced a huge acquisition last Friday, one that has management very excited. They’ve obtained former Ontario Hockey League goaltender Matteo Lalama from the Barrie Colts.
The 20-year-old Lalama spent the past two seasons in the OHL, and suited up for the Collingwood Colts’ OJHL squad as a 17-year-old prior to that. The St. Catharines native appeared in 32 games for Barrie last season, posting an 11-13-4 won-loss-tied record with a 3.70 goals-against average and one shutout. He is listed at 6 ft. and 165 lbs.
Lalama will begin university studies at Western this fall.
Four pre-season games
Lincs have scheduled four exhibition games, two against both the Cambridge Redhawks and Stratford Warriors of the Midwestern Conference.
Lincolns play their first pre-season game Sunday, Aug. 21 against Cambridge in Hespeler at 6 p.m., and then host the Redhawks on Saturday, Aug. 27 in Stratford at 1 p.m. Lincs are also scheduled to play the Warriors twice (both in Stratford) on Sunday, Aug. 28 at 4 o’clock and Friday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m.
–Greg Smale reports that the entire Lincolns’ coaching staff is returning, led by Port Stanley resident Bradley.
–Lincs’ new assistant GM is Jeff Roy, of London. He’s a long-time coach in the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs ‘AAA’ minor hockey organization.
–The GOJHL Showcase Weekend returns Sept. 23-25 at the Meridian Community Centre in Pelham. St. Marys plays Stratford on Friday, Sept. 23 at 1:30 p.m., and the Welland Jr. Canadians on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 10:30 a.m. At the annual Showcase, teams play opponents from other conferences and points count in the standings.
–The new head coach of the defending Western Conference champion Chatham Maroons is Richard Santos. The 34-year-old from Windsor replaces Tyler Roeszler, who recently stepped down as head coach but remains the Maroons’ general manager.
Chatham is apparently facing a “complete rebuild” this season.
–Former Lincolns’ trainer Darren Smale is the new Assistant Equipment Manager with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting.