Thursday night at the Sarnia Arena the Sarnia Legionnaires narrowly avoided a third period comeback from the visiting Strathroy Rockets and escaped with a slim 5-4 victory.

The Legionnaires had led by a 5-1 score by the 11:16 mark of the second period. Sarnia led by a 2-0 score after one period.

Ryan Vendramin and Kyler Keating scored in the opening period for Sarnia.

Rocket Dan Chapman momentarily cut the Sarnia lead to 2-1 at 4:40 of the middle frame when he converted a lovely 2-on-1 with Nick Griffin.

Goals by Cody Trowell, Brandon Layman and Brad Campbell brought the end to Rocket starting goaltender Mat Ouellet’s evening. Ouellet leads the entire GOJHL in minutes played and saves. The three Sarnia goals came in a span of 87 seconds.

Dane Gubbels was perfect in relief of Ouellet turning aside all 13 shots he faced in the last half of the game.

Third period goals by Stuart King, who tipped a Kurtis Sander point shot, Eddie Schulz and Griffin brought the Rockets back to within a goal by 14:10 of the third period.

Moments later Rocket Dylan Newman took a retalitory slashing penalty. Gubbels sparked in goal for the Rockets making nine stops during the Legionnaire powerplay, several of them of the outstanding variety. Sarnia has the top powerplay in the GOJHL with a 30.6% proficiency at home.

The Rockets came close to tying the score in the final moments when Griffin’s close in attempt sailed over the crossbar on Sarnia netminder Hunter Johnson.

The Legionnaires avenged a 3-2 loss to the Rockets on October 25 that snapped their 13-game undefeated streak to begin the season.

The Legionnaires have swept the season series in Sarnia against the Rockets winning all three games. Strathroy had won just a single game in Sarnia in the past four seasons. The Rockets have only won two season series in Sarnia in the past 17 years.

Sarnia outshot Strathroy 30-27. Sarnia is 11-0 this season when they have outshot their opponent.

The Rockets went 2 for 5 on the powerplay while the Legionnaires failed to score on their two attempts.

The loss kept the Rockets in a fourth place tie with the LaSalle Vipers while Sarnia remained two points behind front running Leamington who upended St. Thomas 4-1.

The Rockets were without Mark MacAulay and Lucas Latina who were attending classes at University and Sam Vokes who was unable to attend due to the weather.

The Rockets lost their MVP Nick Boyer early in the first period as the result of a knee on knee collision with Kyler Keating. Rocket scoring lead Brett Dalton missed a few shifts in the second period after being treated for a slash to the wrist. No penalties were called on either play.

Boyer, who left the game on crutches, will need to be examined to assess the damage to his knee.

The Entertainment Tonight Players of the Game for the Rockets were Gubbels, Schulz and defenseman Dalton Good.

The myFM Players of the Game were Gubbels for the Rockets and Jay Clarke for the Legionnaires.

The myFM Hardest Working Player was Rocket Nick Griffin.

David Honsberger

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