Leamington Hosts Legionnaires For First Time This Season – by C. Scott Holland

It was hard to believe that it was the Sarnia Legionnaires’ first trip to the Highbury Canco Arena in the 2015/16 season. A previous visit had been delayed on Dec. 20th and will be played next Sunday (Jan. 17th), but this first encounter in Leamington had all the earmarks of a playoff contest.

Sarnia played well, but like they have done in recent contests, struggled offensively while Leamington played superb defensively. With it being the trade deadline at midnight and a day when Domino’s Pizza of Canada CEO Mike Schlater was honoured and provided pizza, the hometown Flyers had every reason to be hungry for the two points. With 1,071 fans looking on, Schlater dropped the ceremonial puck and was given a special “third” edition Leamington Flyers jersey.

The black jerseys with white and red trim bearing a resemblance to the N.Y. Rangers style of sweater, were unveiled.
The Flyers dominated the Legionnaires in the opening stanza as they outshot them 16-5 but neither team managed to score.

Flyers starter Tyler Wall had a relatively easy frame while at the Sarnia end Shane Battler was outstanding and kept Leamington off the scoresheet during a fast flurry of shots in the period’s final minute. The game’s physicality also showed itself as there was plenty of action along the boards and several booming, hard body hits delivered.

The Flyers pegged the first goal at 5:37 of the second when Joe Urbanic and Aaron Langlois hooked up with Mitchell Amante who raced down the right lane and unleashed a bullet which handcuffed Battler. Sarnia tabbed their lone goal 23 seconds later when Eric Marsh fed Brendan Shagena whose screen shot found its way through a maze of players and caromed off Wall. But before the Leamington netminder could react it dribbled past him and into the net. At 11:58, the game’s highlight reel goal was scored as Cale Phibbs and Scott Florence sent Zach Guilbeault down the right lane. Guilbeault dipsy-doodled his way around a couple players and defensemen while moving in on Battler. As he approached Battler’s right side Guilbeault deftly switched to a backhand shot and deposited the goal on the short side.

From that juncture on Leamington’s defense limited Sarnia every chance they could. Near the midway point of the third, Mark Gangnon and Florence worked the puck into the Sarnia zone until Scott Emerson ripped a shot that eluded Battler and made it 3-1 Leamington. Thirty seconds after his goal, Emerson decided to cap his night with a pugilistic exchange as he found Brad Yowart as a wiling recipient of a couple quick five-finger pies. Both players exited to the showers 13 seconds before any further suspensions would have occurred. Sarnia had a four-minute powerplay chance later in the period but Wall and his offense closed the door.

NOTES: Rookie goalie Tyler Wall raised his record to 18-0-0-1 and now has a low 1.5 goals against average. That mark ties him with Jure Penko (1998/99) for the most wins by a Flyers rookie goaltender …The Flyers did their warm-ups in their red road jerseys and switched to the new “third” black sweater prior to the game’s start.

(photo credit – earlier in the season – Sarnia Sports)

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