Administrator’s Notes – The Sarnia Arena has been a tough spot for the Strathroy Rockets, and so has the former Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre. Strathroy has won just 2 season series in Sarnia in the last 18 years. The Rockets dropped their third and final meeting of the year in Sarnia in double overtime by an 8-7 score. The Legionnaires needed extra time in all three meetings in Sarnia this season winning previously by scores of 4-3 and 3-2. Sarnia has also won the season series by virtue of a 3-1 win in Strathroy in November. The two teams still have to meet twice more, both games will be in Strathroy.
The Legionnaires scored 5 times on the powerplay on just 6 shots on goal while the Rockets countered with 3 powerplay goals on 4 shots. The two teams combined for 6 consecutive powerplay goals. Despite the 8 powerplay goals the two teams scored in the game, the two teams entered the game with very poor powerplay records against each other. In three previous games Sarnia was just 2 for 14 (14.3%) while the Rockets were 1 for 14 (7.1%)
The Rockets dominated in the faceoff circle winning 49 of 82 draws. Lucas Latina went 20-11 while Steve Griggs was near perfect at 15-4.
The Rockets last 4 games have all went into double overtime. They have won once (St. Marys) while losing the other three (Leamington, Chatham, Sarnia)
Rocket underage rookie Shane Bulitka had a 4-point night with 2 goals and 2 assists. It was the first 4-point night by any Rocket this season. Rocket captain Matt Laberge and rookie Max Ewart picked up 3 assists, the first Rocket players to earn 3 assists in a game this season.
The Rockets have appeared in more overtime games than any team in the GOJHL. They have not fared well in their 7 double overtime matches winning just one time, while losing four and tying twice.
Terry Bridge – Sarnia Observer
The Sarnia Legionnaires must have spent their time off practicing the power play.
The Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League club finally returned to regular-season action after almost three weeks between games and went 5-for-6 with the man advantage in an 8-7 overtime victory Thursday against the Strathroy Rockets.
Ryan Vendramin inflicted most of the damage with a three-goal, five-point effort – all on the power play – while Ryan Trottier netted the winner midway through the second overtime frame. Brock Perry, Jacob Stos, Brad Yowart and Hunter Tyczynski also had goals for the Legionnaires (16-11-1-3) in front of 1,432 at Sarnia Arena.
Shane Bulitka and Wesley Kelly responded with a pair of tallies each for Strathroy (9-15-2-7). Lucas Latina, Steve Griggs and TJ Harris had the visitors’ other markers.
Sarnia appeared in control after Vendramin finished off his hat trick with a high shot during a 59-second five-on-three opportunity 4:44 into the third period for a 7-4 lead. But the Rockets responded with the next three goals, including the game-tying tally from Kelly with the goalie on the bench and 36 seconds left in regulation, to force overtime.
“Our PP was good tonight but the rest of it wasn’t good. I wasn’t very impressed,” Legionnaires head coach Mark Davis said. “You have two three-goal leads and you blow it.”
After a scoreless five minutes of four-on-four play, Trottier ended the game 2:23 into the three-on-three session.
“The highlight was Trottier’s goal, that was right on,” Davis said. “We had some other guys step up and score like Stos, that was good, and Hunts buried one. Each line contributed, it’s just you can’t give up goals like we did.”
Legionnaires netminder Aidan Hughes stopped 26 shots.
“I didn’t think Hughesy had a good game,” Davis continued. “Hopefully he can regain what he had before Christmas and he did, he made a couple, but there were some bad goals.”
Rockets netminders Dane Gubbels and Dan Davies each allowed four goals on 15 shots.
Sarnia surrendered its first three-goal lead midway through the second period as Latina, Bulitka and Kelly struck for three tallies in just over three minutes to even the score.
But Tyczynski quickly answered with his seventh of the campaign.
Strathroy had a successful night on the power play, too, in a 3-for-6 effort.
Sarnia returns to action Friday night in St. Thomas.
“It’s good, we jump on the bus, get together and get away from the home barn,” Davis said. “St. Thomas has had their way with us so hopefully we can have our way with them tomorrow.”
The Rockets, meanwhile, host the Lambton Shores Predators Saturday. The Predators played their first post-Christmas game Wednesday, a 4-1 setback in LaSalle.
The Legionnaires were without Jarret Marks and PJ Vandervaart because of suspensions, while the Rockets scratched Jeff Williams and Codey McRoberts… The crowd banded together to sing the national anthem when a microphone malfunctioned.
(photo – Sarnia Legionnaires forward Brock Perry scores his 11th goal of the season against Strathroy Rockets goalie Dane Gubbels during the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League game at Sarnia Arena on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016 in Sarnia, Ont. Perry struck on the power play 6:53 into the affair. Terry Bridge/Sarnia Observer/Postmedia Network)