Former Nats’ defenceman Billy Faragher added to St. Marys roster prior to Jan. 10
By Pat Payton
St. Marys Lincolns were pretty quiet leading up to the Jan. 10 OHA trade deadline.
But it wasn’t from a lack of trying as Lincs’ Director of Hockey Operations/GM Greg Smale and the management staff left no stone unturned.
Smale described it as a “very different” trade environment this year.
“Obviously with the (Covid) pause, teams were concerned if we’re going to start back up again,” he said. “The parity in the league also played a big factor. Teams that are in sixth and seventh place weren’t really selling players. They were hanging onto them, and some even added players.
“Some teams also lost players to the U.S. because we’re on a pause. There were a lot of factors this year. It was very tough to navigate through. It was a weird few days and a lot of phone calls.”
The GM noted that there were only a couple of “big moves” in the Western Conference.
“We were in all of them, and we made some serious offers, but we weren’t able to pull anything off,” he said. “My mindset was that I didn’t want to mortgage our future, and sacrifice any of that. They were the decisions we made.
“If you look at our roster, we have a strong ‘02 group; they were the players teams were asking about. On paper, our team looks like we’re going to have a solid roster again next season. I’m happy where we’re at as a team. We have 23 players on our roster; we can have a maximum of 25.”
Lincolns’ lone acquisition was signing free agent defenceman Bill Faragher. The right-shooting blue-liner had three goals, 22 points and 66 penalty minutes in 44 games with London Nationals in 2019-20. The 19-year-old hails from London, and played his minor hockey in the Elgin-Middlesex ‘AAA’ system.
“He’s a very good signing for us,” Smale said. “He builds upon our ‘02 depth. We’re going to have a strong ‘02 (born) group returning next year.
“There are free agents out there that I’m still going to work on. But right now, I’m pleased with our roster and pleased with what Jeff (Bradley) has done as a coach.”
Bradley is 10-3 since taking over as bench boss the second week of November. Lincs hope to be back playing games as early as Jan. 28 if the government lifts current Covid restrictions and allows the GOJHL to resume its regular schedule.
“If they say we’re back on Jan. 28, we’ll take that,” Smale added.
–Strathroy Rockets were a busy team leading up to the Jan. 10 OHA trade deadline.
Rockets made deals with three other GOJHL teams to try and strengthen their squad for the stretch run. They currently sit in seventh place in the Western Conference standings with an 8-16-2-3 record.
In their final trade, Strathroy acquired defenceman Charley Barnes and forward Michael Elliston from London for goalie Gordie O’Dwyer and forward Riley Wood. Wood was Rockets’ leading scorer with 13 goals and 34 points in 29 games.
In earlier transactions, Strathroy traded veteran forward Jonathon Kilby to Stratford Warriors for goalie Tyler Bouck, and obtained forward Jacob Couchie from the Hamilton Kilty B’s.
–At the Jan. 10 deadline, St. Thomas Stars sent forwards Tanner Dietz and Ben MacRobbie to the Listowel Cyclones for forward Jackson Phillips. Dietz, from Mitchell, was leading the Stars in scoring with 27 points (5-22) in 26 games. He played three games for the Cycs in 2019-20 as an affiliate skater.
LaSalle Vipers obtained two players from the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, goalie Kyle Downey and forward Wylie Birkett. Downey was 4-3 with the Spits, with a 4.19 goals-against average.
–At the break, Lincolns continue to have the best penalty-killing stats (87 per cent) in the West division. Lincs have allowed just 15 powerplay goals in 115 shorthanded situations to date. They have also scored three shorthanded goals.
–Food and toys collected at a Lincolns’ home game just before Christmas were donated to the local Salvation Army.