St. Marys Lincolns won the game they needed to win!
For a good chance at gaining the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, Lincs had to beat Lambton Shores Predators on home ice last Friday night.
They responded with a 3-1 victory in front of their largest crowd of the season at the PRC (approximately 450 spectators), moving St. Marys (8-38-1) into a tie with the Preds (6-36-5).
“It was a 60-minute effort from 19 guys tonight,” coach Mike Crespeigne said. “We needed to bring our ‘A’ game for three periods, and that’s the outcome. Hats off to Lambton Shores; they brought their ‘A’ game as well.
“I think tonight, with the magnitude of the game, we eased off on the boys a bit. We just went to simple hockey—pucks in deep, chip pucks out of your own zone, and make sure we play well defensively. And I feel we did that for three periods.”
Both St. Marys and Lambton Shores have two regular-season games remaining. Lincolns, however, could still be awarded two points if the OHA rules in favour of their protest. Back on Dec. 1 in Chatham, Maroons dressed eight import players (one over the limit of seven) in a 5-1 win over the Lincs.
Good early start
In Friday’s game, Lincolns got the good start they were looking for as they scored twice before the five-minute mark of the first period.
And leading the way was captain Mike Siddall, who never seemed to leave the ice and contributed two points.
When Predators failed to clear their zone, Siddall made them pay with his 16th goal of the season at 3:13.
Just over a minute later, centre Rai DiLoreto (his 17th) fooled Preds’ goalie Justin Fazio with a long low shot from just inside the blue line.
With just over a minute left in the opening period, Lambton Shores had a great chance to close the gap, but failed to convert on a breakaway.
The teams traded second-period goals. Cody Filson’s 14th put St. Marys ahead 3-0 at the 1:06 mark. Siddall and Luke Jackson assisted.
Steven Beenackers finally put Predators on the scoreboard on a powerplay at the 14:14 mark.
Late in the period, Lincs had a great opportunity to extend their lead. However, they weren’t able to capitalize on a lengthy 5-on-3 man advantage.
The desperate Preds applied strong pressure early in the third, but couldn’t get another puck past Lincolns’ goalie Andrew Masters. Masters turned aside all 15 shots he faced in the period as the visitors out-shot the Lincs 12-5.
Overall, St. Marys had a 37-35 edge in shots.
Predators took 32 of the 50 penalty minutes, but Lincolns weren’t able to capitalize on the powerplay.
“Not happy with the powerplay; we sputtered on the powerplay tonight,” Crespeigne said. “But the PK (penalty-kill) was there for most of the night.”
Captain Siddall said he and his teammates knew they had to produce a solid, 60-minute effort.
“We knew we had to play a full game tonight,” he said. “We couldn’t take any shifts off, and we all came together. It was a good team effort and we got the ‘W’.
“We’re two points closer to the playoffs, and that’s what we want. That’s our goal.”
With Friday’s win, Lincs tied the season series with Lambton Shores at 3-3. Lincolns lost the first three meetings, but won the next three.
Nationals 2 – Lincolns 0
At the Western Fair complex last Wednesday night, the fourth-place Nationals completed a 6-0 season against St. Marys with a 2-0 victory in front of approximately 750 spectators.
Lincolns played the game with just 14 skaters.
Jeff Bauer’s goal at 2:13 of the first period stood up as the game winner. There was no more scoring until London defenceman Scott Lombardi added an insurance tally at 11:07 of the third.
Overall, Nats out-shot the Lincs 39-21, including 15-6 in the opening 20 minutes. Former OHL goalie Jacob Riley, 20, posted the shutout--his fourth of the season.
“We had a short bench with injuries and suspensions, but I thought we played right with them for the first couple of periods,” coach Crespeigne said. “We thought we played well and kept our feet moving on the big ice.
“We had a powerplay in the third, and Cody (Filson) missed a wide open net with about 10 minutes to play. Right after that, London came right down and scored their second one.”
In six losses against London this season, Lincolns scored just six goals against the Nationals.
Note: Lambton Shores lost 4-3 on home ice Saturday night to London, leaving Predators and Lincolns tied for the eighth and final playoff spot.