Leamington Dominates Lambton 8-1 – by C. Scott Holland

It was the Leamington Flyers’ final home contest prior to the Christmas break thanks to a rescheduling of their Sun. Dec. 20 home game vs Sarnia. The visiting Lambton Shores Predators may have wished that Santa Claus had made an early appearance because everyone on the Predators must have some big gifts they are looking for.

In front of 615 fans the Flyers, along with three call-ups – Brett Vorshuk, Michael Vieira and Eric Pillon, did not play as keenly during the first 40 minutes of play as their abilities have shown previously, yet they did tab four goals to hold a 4-1 lead after two periods and controlled the game for a victory. The contest ended 8-1 in the Flyers’ favour.

Lambton starting goalie Anthony Hurtubise faced enough shots to start paving a few roads. The Flyers pumped a total of 61 at him. Leamington netminder Tyler Wall halted 24 of 25 which came his way. Wall maintained his unblemished record which now stands at 15-0-0-1 plus a magnificent goals against average of 1.47.

Lambton Shores came out strong in the opening frame and during much of the frame outplayed the Flyers. The Flyers struck first near the five minute mark when JP Grineau set up Mark Gangnon who moved in on Hurtubise, made a deceiving move and then lifted a backhander past him. As Luke Sanko sat in the sin bin with a two minute minor, the GOJHL’s top gun for shorthanded goals, Mitchell Amante, sprinted onto a breakaway, blistered a shot, collected his own rebound and backhanded it into the net for a 2-0 lead. It was Amante’s ninth career shorthanded goal.

Just past the five minute mark of the second Lambton’s Franco Sproviero and CJ Kusch entered the zone on a play some fans and players felt was a missed offside. After a shot on Wall was stopped, the puck squirted out to his right and Connor Merritt cashed in the Preds’ lone goal of the night. By 12:31 the Flyers had started to play marginally better than the opening 20 minutes.

A slick pass play from Cale Phibbs enabled Luke Sanko to redirect it into the net to reassert a two goal lead.

The Flyers never looked back from that juncture.

Three minutes later Scott Emerson’s pass to Matthew Opblinger was drilled at Hurtibise and Amante plucked the rebound and deposited it into the open right side for a 4-1 margin.

The game’s physicality escalated in the third. As Mike Vieira sat in the penalty box, Zak Parlette and Sanko combined to send Opblinger down the left lane. Opblinger made several stunning moves with a great individual effort, deked a shot and then backhanded the puck high overtop Hurtubise for the Flyers’ second shorthanded marker of the game at 7:09.

The Flyers began looking like a first-place team, using puck control, timely passes and strong defensive work to keep coming at the Preds. After Brett Vorshuk notched his first Jr. B goal at 10:41, several players got involved with a bit of roughing around the Lambton net. Leamington’s JP Grineau and Nicholas Mainella plus Lambton’s Franco Sproviero and Ryan Fraser were sidelined and nearly 20 seconds later Leamington’s Scott Emerson and Lambton’s Calvin Hughson joined the penalty-box parade.

Things calmed down and the Flyers finished the night’s fireworks. At 11:58 while on a powerplay Sanko and Thomas Virban set up Derek Elliott’s blast. To cap the contest, at 16:31 Emerson and Amante traded slick passes and slipped the puck to Grineau who converted the eighth tally from deep in the slot.

At 18:15 on a last ditch scoring effort, Lambton pulled Hurtubise for an extra attacker but failed to penetrate the Flyers end for any length of time and did not even get a shot on net. Even with a Flyers’ penalty in the final minute of play Lambton had difficulty generating any kind of offense. The Flyers defense was solid throughout the final frame and especially in the final minutes. They permitted the Preds had only four shots on net.

NOTES: Eric Pillon, a goalie with the Windsor Junior Spitfires was the back-up in place of Michael Barrett; Brett Vorshuk and Michael Vieira were call-ups from the Essex 73s; Vorshuk’s goal was his first Jr. B tally; the Flyers end their December schedule by playing the St. Thomas Stars Fri. Dec. 18 and then will not return to regular action until Jan. 7 when they host the St. Marys Lincolns.

(photo credit – Mike Vlasveld – Flyers celebrate 2014  championship)

C.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 reached at: cttocsh1@yahoo.ca

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