Forward from Lucan played three-plus Jr. ‘B’ seasons in St. Marys
By Pat Payton
It’s not the way Justin McIntyre wanted to end his career as a St. Marys Lincoln.
But the 20-year-old forward from Lucan will only have fond memories of his three-plus GOJHL seasons with the Lincs.
Entering his final season of Junior hockey, Lincolns were counting on the veteran McIntyre to be one of the team leaders. Hockey people tried their best, but the Covid-19 virus and government health restrictions simply stopped the 2020-21 GOJHL season from ever getting off the ground. All Junior leagues in the province faced the same grim reality.
Late in 2020, Lincs played a handful of modified exhibition games against the Warriors in Stratford, but that’s the only hockey the St. Marys team would actually end up playing.
Enjoyed the St. Marys people
McIntyre said the people of St. Marys, the fans, teammates and management staff all made it a special place for him to play Junior hockey.
“One hundred percent, I will have a lot of great memories . . . they are endless, honestly,” he told the Independent recently. “A highlight is the people I’ve met and the friendships I’ve made playing with the team. Definitely, the best part is the people I’ve met in St. Marys.”
McIntyre was impressed with the way the community always supported the Lincolns, even when the team struggled when he first arrived in town.
He said a team high point was being part of the 2019-20 club which won 30 games and finished third overall in the Western Conference standings. “The whole season was going from the bottom to being a contender,” he says. “Everyone talked about how we wanted to bring winning hockey back to St. Marys. We stuck together and we feel we achieved that. And I loved the atmosphere there.”
An individual thrill was scoring the game winner in a 2-0 series-opening victory over Strathroy Rockets in the spring of 2020. “Scoring the team’s first playoff goal on home ice was definitely a highlight for me; it was just awesome,” he remembers. Lincs would go on to win the quarter-final series in five games.
McIntyre praised the coaches and management staff for turning the team into a winner during his three full seasons with the Lincolns.
“The time they put in preparing the team and getting us ready for games was just unbelievable,” he said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”
Got on team’s radar
Justin McIntyre first got on the Lincolns’ radar after he helped the Lucan Midgets win an All-Ontario championship. The following season, he collected 23 goals and 47 points in 34 games with the Huron-Perth Lakers ‘AAA’ Major Midgets. During that 2017-18 season, he played seven games with the Lincs as an affiliate player.
McIntyre joined the Lincolns full-time the following year and clicked for 10 goals and 21 points as a rookie. He increased his offensive totals to eight goals and 31 points in 2019-20.
This past season, McIntyre was one of a half-dozen returnees and Lincs’ lone 20-year-old player. He said he was looking forward to playing with a young and talented squad, and teaching the newcomers “the ropes and getting them accustomed to playing in the league.”
When the Lincolns set out to rebuild their hockey club, one of the first players they looked at was McIntyre.
“If you rewind back to three off-seasons ago, Justin was literally the first person we offered a spot to when we were rebuilding this team,” said Greg Smale, Lincs’ Director of Hockey Operations/GM. “We didn’t sugar-coat it; we were rebuilding and trying to do things the right way.
“We knew it was going to be tough, but Justin and his family took on that challenge and he never looked back. Three years later, he’s graduating as a St. Marys Lincoln.”
One of the team leaders
Without a doubt, Smale said McIntyre would have been one of the team leaders this past season.
“Justin was here from day one, and he knew exactly what it felt like to be at the bottom. He was one of the players who brought this team back to the top. It’s something that we pride ourselves on. We bring prospects into the room and they soon find out how the veterans treat them and welcome them.
“Players like Brett Whitehead, Cayse Ton and Thomas McLatchie did that, and Jacob Bloomfield and Justin McIntyre were two guys who did that this past year. Moving forward, Ethan Lamoureux, Jordan Daer and Cole Schnittker will do that next season.
“Justin was a huge part of it. I was sad that the town of St. Marys didn’t get to see him as a 20-year-old in this league, and I’ll be sad next season not to see his family at the rink every night . . . no matter what rink we were at. But I’m proud of him for the young man that he’s become, the challenges that he’s faced head-on, and where he helped take this hockey team,” the GM added.
–Lincolns’ president Brandon Boyd describes McIntyre as a “great role model and advocate for the club.”
–Justin had great family support at Lincs’ games. His parents Steve and Julia McIntyre, sister Sarah and grandfather Andy, all of Lucan, were always in attendance. Andy McIntyre often volunteered to do security at home games. “They absolutely love St. Marys and went to every single game,” Justin said. “They loved the team.”
–McIntyre has played hockey since was four years old and sees the game in his future. “I don’t know what life would be like without it,” he said with a laugh.
–Prior to a home game early next season, McIntyre will be presented with a framed Lincolns’ jersey (No. 19).
–Justin is currently a civil engineering student at London’s Fanshawe College. He’s just finished the second year of a three-year program.