SARNIA LEGIONNAIRES SINK STRATHROY ROCKETS IN OVERTIME

Highlights of a 4-3 overtime win by the Sarnia Legionnaires over the visiting Strathroy Rockets at the Sarnia Arena on October 8, 2015 in Western Conference action of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. Trailing 3-1 the Rockets scored twice in the final three minutes of regulation time to force overtime. The game was punctuated by some outstanding goaltending from Rocket netminder Dane Gubbels, a pair of goals by Rocket Riley O’Connell as well as a spirited bout between Strathroy’s Codey McRoberts and Sarnia’s Sam McCormack.

By Terry Bridge, Sarnia Observer

Brandon Layman almost couldn’t believe his luck.

The Sarnia Legionnaires forward looked down and found the puck on his stick with no goalie to be found, and the 20-year-old American shovelled it into the yawning cage for the game-winning goal to lead his club to a 4-3 overtime win over the Strathroy Rockets.

Netminder Dane Gubbels’ diving poke-check attempt with just over one minute remaining in the 4-on-4 sudden-death session didn’t exactly pan out.

“The puck just kind of bounced through, and (teammate Jordan) Fogarty was actually ahead of me getting to it, goalie came out (and) poked it right to me, hit me, and just wide open net,” Layman said.

Alec Dekoning, Jarrett Marks and Hunter Tyczynski also scored for the Legionnaires (4-3-1-1) Thursday night at Sarnia Arena, but the home side surrendered a late two-goal lead to force overtime in the first place.

“You’re going to get down a little bit whenever that happens, but the start of overtime you’ve got to regroup down the bench,” Layman said.

Riley O’Connell scored twice for the Rockets (4-3-1-1), including the game-tying tally with 1:03 to go in regulation while his team’s net was empty.

“They pulled their goalie, we thought we had a plan,” Legionnaires head coach Mark Davis said.

“We knew they were going to win it back to him, we couldn’t get to him. He made a nice shot, there wasn’t much room there. He buried it under the bar. Like a pro shot, not much you can do on that one.”

Max Ewart also hit the mesh for the visitors in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League game.

“I thought we battled hard all night,” Davis continued. “It was unfortunate you get a 3-1 lead and they come back and tie it up, but you know what, that’s what the game’s all about. They didn’t come into our barn to walk out of here – I tip my hat to them, they came back, they tied it.”

“They don’t quit. Doesn’t matter what the score is, they just keep coming at you and coming at you.”

Legionnaires goalie Shayne Battler made 27 saves while Gubbels responded with 43.

It was the second-consecutive game for Sarnia, and both went to overtime. But after settling for a tie in LaSalle Wednesday night, Layman’s fifth goal in nine games earned his club the extra point.

“We had a long game (Wednesday), so got kind of tired at the end but cleaned it up and then just brought it in overtime,” Layman said. “I thought we out-played them in overtime.”

Dekoning opened the scoring less than four minutes into the contest with a bar-down goal, his second of the season.

O’Connell evened the score late in the frame with a snap shot while on the power play.

Strathroy was 1-for-4 with the man advantage while Sarnia went 0-for-6.

After a scoreless second stanza, Marks put the home team in front with 13:13 to go in the third, quickly followed by a fight between Sam McCormack and Codey McRoberts.

“That was awesome,” Davis said. “Here’s a guy (McCormack) that stood up for (his teammate), that’s what brings this whole thing together, is our family that we keep talking about.”

McCormack, though, fell to the ice after receiving a punch to the facial area.

Tyczynski tapped in a loose puck for a two-goal lead with 4:15 to play, but Ewart quickly responded by chipping a shot past Battler.

O’Connell fired home the equalizer shortly after his team called a timeout with the face off in Sarnia’s end. The 20-year-old Whitby native now has seven goals in nine games.

“He scored a couple of goals, he snapped that one. He’s got a heck of a shot,” Davis said. “I think next time we’re going to make sure we take him away, make sure he doesn’t get that shot.”

Sarnia’s Ryan Vendramin and Brock Perry both missed the contest as they are still a couple of weeks away from returning from injuries, while Derrick Johnson sat as a healthy scratch.

Goalie Aidan Hughes backed up Battler, but he will be leaving to join the Sarnia Sting this weekend and will likely start Sunday as the OHL club has a three-game weekend.

The Legionnaires, meanwhile, are off until Wednesday when they travel to LaSalle. Strathroy hosts St. Thomas Saturday night.

David Honsberger

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