St. Marys Lincolns made the league leaders earn their two points last Friday night at the Pyramid Rec. Centre.
Two unanswered third-period goals lifted Leamington Flyers to a 4-2 Western Conference win over the Lincs.
To Lincolns’ credit, they battled for 60 minutes, and Flyers’ veteran coach Tony Piroski was impressed.
“We found a way to win, and we’ve been doing that this year,” Piroski acknowledged. “But I thought tonight, St. Marys is a much better team than a two-win team and we’re not likely as good as a 19-win team.
“St. Marys played well tonight. They played physical and they battled. It caught me off guard a little bit. Give St. Marys credit, I thought they did a good job tonight.
“At times, we looked unorganized, but that was due to the way St. Marys was playing. I think they’re a much better team than their record indicates. We’re happy to take the two points and run tonight.”
Flyers opened the scoring midway through the first period on a goal by veteran Chris Scott.
First goal for Krassey
Lincs’ rookie Evan Krassey, with his first of the season, tied it at 4:17 of the second period after taking Ocean Check’s perfect pass from the corner. (Krassey is a draft pick of the OHL’s Niagara Ice Dogs).
Colin Moore put Leamington back in front at 12:36, but Lincolns’ centre Jared Lindsay (his fourth) tied it again just over three minutes later.
Flyers appeared to play with a little more urgency in the final 20 minutes, and they carried the play to St. Marys.
Scott fired what proved to be the winner at 3:18 of the third, after Lincolns turned the puck over in the neutral zone. Teammate Zack Guilbeault added an insurance tally at 10:43.
Coach likes work ethic
Although his team came away with nothing to show for a good effort, coach Merlin Malinowski was pleased with Lincs’ overall performance.
“To a man, I liked the way the guys worked tonight,” Malinowski said. “We were relentless and we continued to work all night long. If we keep doing that, it will eventually pay off for us.
“(Goalie) Tyler Beattie had a nice game for us tonight. We have a good group of kids; I just wish we could get a couple of points in the standings to give them some confidence and get them feeling good about themselves.
“Again, I was very happy with the effort tonight, and if we continue to work like that there’s going to be some wins coming up shortly.”
Overall, Leamington out-shot St. Marys 39-20, but the game was much closer than the shot count might indicate. Beattie finished with 35 saves.
“It sounds like a broken record, but we’re getting closer,” Malinowski said. “Our last two home games, against Sarnia and Leamington, have been one-goal games. Tonight, it was 2-2 in the third period.”
Malinowski says he’d like to see his team reduce its number of turnovers.
“It’s correctable,” he says. “You just have to keep preaching it, and show them on the video.
“We definitely have to stop turning the puck over on the offensive blue line. If you don’t have a good chance, then you chip and chase.”
The win for the first-place Flyers (19-5) was their fifth in a row. They are 11-1 in their last 12 games, and boast a 9-3 road record.
Lincolns fall to 2-19-2 with their fourth straight defeat.
•Goalie Ryan Van Dam, up from the Cement Midgets, dressed as back-up for Lincolns last Friday.
No. 1 goalie Andrew Masters missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury. He could be back as early as this Friday.
•Lincs played last Friday’s game with just five defencemen, including call-up Wyatt Lansdell, captain of the Huron-Perth Lakers ‘AAA’ Midgets.
Defenceman Mitch Read logged a lot of ice time, and played one of his best games this season.
•Lincolns are at the Western Fair sports complex in London tonight (Nov. 26) to play the Nationals.
Lambton Shores Predators are in St. Marys this Friday. Preds currently own the eighth and final playoff spot, and Lincs need a win for any chance at gaining the final playoff berth.
•Strathroy Rockets (13-13) have started to make a move up the ladder, winning five of their last six games. Rockets are now in fourth place after weekend action.