Flyers Hang on To Beat London 5-3 – by C. Scott Holland
In the first rematch at Leamington since the fabled 0-0 tie between these two teams back on Oct. 1, it was a game totally unlike the previous one. An exceptionally large crowd of 1,337 filled the Highbury Canco Arena on what was billed as Teddy Bear Toss night. Fans were asked to bring a stuffed animal to toss onto the ice after the Flyers scored their first goal. But it wasn’t the flood of over 400 teddy bears onto the ice which made the night to remember it was an incident involving arena glass late in the third period.
Leamington fans got to see the two newest members of the team for the first time as Aaron Langlois and David Storey made their home ice debuts – and combined with the addition of APJ Tyler Scott, the Flyers made quite an opening period statement and looked dominant for two periods.
It was a fast game with plenty of physical, hard hits, some of which were supplied by newcomer David Storey who crunched several London players. The real fireworks began with the opening Leamington tally. At 11:56 Scott Emerson skated into the Nats’ zone on a rush and unleashed a drive from just just inside the blueline. HIs bomb of a shot skipped past Nats’ starter Connor Hughes and the flood gate of teddy bears began. With help of the Southpoint Stars girls team, and the Flyers the bears were collected and carted off the ice. Credit for laying the groundwork on Elliott’s goal was given to Joe Urbanic and Nic Mainella. Before play resumed, London’s Trevor Dulong was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and seconds after London had eliminated the threat, Cale Phibbs and Trevor Scott set up Mitch Amante. Amante drilled a left side screen shot which handcuffed Hughes and suddenly it was 2-0. The prettiest tally of the night was yet to come though. Liam Hogan zigzagged in and around several defensemen, then did a nifty move in front of Hughes before backhanding it into the net.
In the second frame London simply appeared flat. Whether it was the stunning 3-0 deficit or the confidence and poise with which the Flyers played one may never know. But the Nats only generated 6 shots in the 20 minute frame while Leamington battered Hughes with 15. Yet the score remained 3-0.
Leamington netminder Tyler Wall had his shutout broken 39 seconds into the third thanks to some shoddy defensive works and Alex Cimino’s timing as he jammed it past him from the right side. John Warren drew the assist for his work with the puck prior to the goal. At 9:21 the Flyers upped the lead again. This time Tyler Scott’s rebound was plucked by Derek Elliott and rifled into the net to put the Flyers ahead 4-1. A minute later at 10:53 London halved the score when Jordon Di Cicco and Max Vingradov set up Colin Wilson who unleashed a shot that bounced into the net off Wall’s right pad.
Leamington and London continued to race back and forth in an effort to notch the next crucial tally. But with 5:26 on the clock and the Flyers rushing into the London zone, a pane of protective glass broke. Play was halted and for about 15 minutes arena workers removed the pane but did not have a replacement. Some lengthy discussion took place among the officials, staff and teams. Finally, it was decided the remaining time would be played on the second Unico ice pad which measures 200′ by 90′. Yet while many fans, the Flyers and game-day staff headed to the adjoining rink London players and coaches argued with the officials about the move for approximately five more minutes. With a delay running about 30 minutes the final 5:26 was played. The Unico rink actually suited London. The Nats lifted Hughes for an extra-attacker with about 2:25 left in the game. But the Flyers’ Mitch Amante collected a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated down the ice before depositing it into the vacated London net to make it a 5-2 contest. As time was about to expire The Nats’ Callum Ruddock flipped the puck high towards Wall and had it enter the net a fraction of a second before the final buzzer.
NOTES – The Flyers move from the Highbury Canco to the Unico rink marked the first time in their Jr. B history they have played one game on two different rinks. …The crowd of 1,337 was the largest this season and one of the largest ever in any regular game at the present arena. …London’s back-up goalie for the night, Noah Hedrick, is a former Essex 73s player. …There is some talk about the Flyers’ Dec. 20th home game vs Sarnia being rescheduled – more details on that when exact details are worked out. The Flyers honoured and paid a moment of silence in memory of late owner Fred Epplett prior to the game. The Flyers next two home games are both against Lambton Shores.
Flyers Teddy Bear Toss and with Southpoint Stars team hauling away the 400 plus stuffed animals gathered. Photos by C. Scott Holland
C. Scott Holland is an accomplished author, a former Western Jr. B Hockey League statistician and is recognized as the West Conference’s and GOJHL’s historian. A lifelong resident of Leamington Scott was a journalist for the now defunct Leamington Post for 26 years and currently writes for the Southpoint Sun. Among the books he has authored are: 75 Years: A History of the Leamington and Erie Shores Golf Course; A Century In The Making – History of Heinz Canada 1909-2009; Leamington Flyers 1992/93-2011/12 Platinum Anniversary Special Program; the Western Jr. B Record Book 2003/04 and 2005/05 editions; as well as updates of both the West Conference and GOJHL Record Books. He was been a member of he Leamington Jr. Flyers hockey club for the last 27 years and served many years as a board member, statistician, press box announcer, and scorekeeper among other duties. He has been named the West Conference Volunteer of Year and a Windsor-Essex Sportsperson of Year award. He resides in Leamington with his wife Susan. He can be contacted at: email@example.com