Talented Lincolns team ready to charge out of the gate

Lincs have good balance of skill and grit: GM Smale

By Pat Payton

A deep and talented St. Marys Lincolns team kicks off its 2022-23 GOJHL regular schedule this Friday night at the PRC. Lincs’ opponent for their Western Conference home opener is the Strathroy Rockets.

Game time is 7:30 p.m.

“I think we’re going to have a very skilled team, with a nice balance of skill and grit,” Lincolns’ Director of Hockey Operations/GM Greg Smale told the Independent last week. “Depth is another word you could use describing the team. We have a very deep roster, especially in the forward group.

“We’re very fortunate to have so many great players. Hopefully, that’s the recipe for success in the playoffs and it takes us a long way. We’re trying to make something special happen here in St. Marys,” Smale added.

Head coach Jeff Bradley is also excited about the potential of this year’s team, and he tips his hat to GM Smale for assembling such a strong roster.

“Four of our players, Michael Elliston, Jacob Chantler, Josh Cornfield and Nathan Small, I know from my time in London (with the Nationals),” Bradley said. “They’re all skilled players and good character guys. Guys like Chantler and the experience he brings with the Memorial Cup championship he helped win in Saint John, he’s a huge asset to have in our locker room. He’s not only an offensive threat, he’s extremely good defensively.

“I think we have a hungry group of 20-year-olds who want it to all come together this year, so they can have one last shot at winning a championship. Our 20-year-olds are extremely impactful 20-year-olds. And Greg did a great job of surrounding them with some talented younger guys, who will learn from our older guys.”

Lamoureux back for third season

One of those veteran players is forward Ethan Lamoureux, 20, who is returning for his third season in St. Marys. The Ilderton native led the Lincs in scoring last season with 18 goals and 55 points in 47 games. At the team awards banquet last spring, he was named regular-season MVP and accepted the Frank Edye Award.

This season, Lamoureux will surpass 100 regular-season games and 100 points in his Junior career.

“Ethan was sixth overall in (Western Conference) scoring last season,” Bradley pointed out. “Him and guys like Jacob Chantler are perfect leaders, and Michael Elliston is another great leader who works very hard.

“And the other returning guys, they understand what we’re trying to do here and they want to be a part of it. To me, that’s the key to success . . . having that continuity from season to season. We’re really excited looking ahead to the season.”

Another key 20-year-old is Matteo Lalama. Along with centreman Chantler, the 20-year-old from St. Catharines was a huge acquisition this summer. The former OHL goaltender was a member of the Barrie Colts the past two seasons.

Lalama appeared in 32 games for Barrie last year, posting an 11-13-4 won-loss-tied record, with a 3.70 goals-against average and one shutout. Listed at 6 ft., 1 inch and 180 lbs., he is a first-year student at Western University in London. “Matteo has the capabilities and potential to be one of the best players on our team and also provide a leadership role,” coach Bradley says.

The other St. Marys netminder is 16-year-old Carter George, a third-round draft pick of the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack

Seven returnees from 2021-22

Lincolns go into the season with seven veterans back from the team which reached the conference semi-finals last spring.

Cornfield is a returnee on defence. Nathan Small played for the Lincs in 2019-20 and will be a key member of the team’s powerplay this season. The recent acquisition of Adam Barkley, 19, also strengthens the back-end. The right-shooting Barkley played for both the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads and the OJHL’s Toronto Jr. Canadiens last year.

Up front, forwards Lamoureux, Cole Schnittker, Austin Keleher, Kevin Perrott and Eric Smith give the team size, hard work and Junior experience. “They’re all good players and good in the locker room,” Bradley says. “They’re in-your-face-type players.”

Two newcomers on this year’s squad are forward Jimmy Schiedel and defenceman Rourke McEwan, both 17-year-old St. Marys natives. They were members of the Alliance champion U18 Huron-Perth ‘AAA’ Lakers in 2021-22, and both played a handful of games as affiliate skaters with the Lincolns last season.

Schiedel led the Lakers in scoring with seven goals and 24 points in 33 games. A right shot, he also added four points in eight playoff games. Jimmy is the oldest son of Dan Schiedel, a former Lincs’ captain who played five seasons with the team (1988-93).

McEwan was named an Alliance League all-star on defence last season. The left-shooting blue-liner, who makes smart decisions with the puck, chipped in 17 points (4-13) in 32 games.

Other new players include: Jaden Lee, Luca Spagnolo, Owen Bruder, Matt Prendergast and Owen Voortman. All are capable of contributing offensively.

“We certainly have guys who can put the puck in the net, but we want to make sure we’re a responsible defensive team and not rely on goalies Matteo and Carter,” Bradley says. “We want to be an honest, hard-working and disciplined team when it comes to the structure.”