Flyers Go Bruisin’ and Cruisin’ Past Maroons – by C. Scott Holland

In front of a large crowd at the Highbury Canco arena in Leamington, the hometown Flyers opened the eyes of not only the Chatham players but quite a few scouts as well.

The Maroons came in looking for revenge for a 4-1 home ice loss to Leamington on Jan. 24th, but even after an extremely emotional and physical first frame which ended knotted 1-1, the game turned into a tough battle of offenses. When the final buzzer sounded, the Flyers had secured a 5-2 victory – one that seemed more like a notice that they will be a difficult squad to beat come playoffs.

Leamington wasted no time in asserting lead. Derek Elliott and Luke Sanko combined with Liam Hogan for a three-on-one situation on which Elliott’s pass bounced off Sanko and onto the stick of Hogan. Hogan tapped the puck into the net on Maroons’ starter Parker Butler’s left side at the 40 second mark.

Penalties escalated quickly from there. At 2:51 Flyers defenseman Jacob McGhee and Maroons player Josh Barraclough exchanged some five-fingered pies after McGhee had crosschecked Barraclough. Chatham’s Ryan Fraser received a 10-minute misconduct for not leaving the area of the fight. Chatham knotted the contest on the subsequent powerplay as Ian Faubert and Austin Thompson tried scoring on Flyers’ netminder Tyler Wall before Connor Koviak bashed the puck over the red line.

As heavy bodychecks and spirited play began the grittiness and roughness did as well. At 11:16, Leamington rearguard Nicholas Mainella was creamed into the corner boards just to Butler’s right. Chatham’s Michael Levesque received two minute check-from-behind plus a game misconduct and a roughing-after-the-whistle call while Leamington’s Mitchell Crevatin was sidelines with a 10-minute misconduct and also two minutes for roughing.

The contest remained tied after 20 minutes of action with the Maroons outshooting Leamington 13-10 in the frame.

Near the three minute mark of the second, with Leamington having Mainella back in the lineup, Mainella chipped a pass off the boards that sent Zach Guilbeault and Sanko into the Chatham zone on a two-on-nobody break. Guilbeault’s left to right feed to Sanko was deposited easily into an open right side of the net. The game’s intensity had moderated but not the end-to end action nor the digging along the boards. Flyers’ forward Aaron Langlois created a pretty play on which he fed Derek Elliott and Elliott circled the net and flicked a backhand into the small slot left open on the left side of Butler for a 3-1 lead.

But the Maroons didn’t give up. At 13:19 Delcan Conway’s blast bounced off a post and past Wall to make it a 3-2 contest.

The game’s complexion changed completely at 16:35 when a pane of glass broke. Ironically, it was the very replacement pane used after a pane broke in the same location in early December vs London. Both teams headed to their dressing rooms and an early second intermission was held during which the pane was quickly replaced and ice resurfaced.

The end of the second was played and both teams switched ends and the full 20 minutes commenced.

At 8:50 Elliott passed to Joe Urbanic whose shot was kicked out by Butler but the fat rebound was pounced upon by Luke Sanko who drilled it home. Wall made a key save in the game when at 11:49 Mark Fratarcangelli went on a breakaway and Wall stood tall and halted the blast. Holding a 4-2 lead, the Flyers puck control was superb and they added the clinching goal at 17:17 on a powerplay when Mitchel Crevatin’s shot rung off the right post and into the net.

Notes – Scouts from the St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and Calgary Flames were in attendance watching Tyler Wall. As well many US and Canadian universities have also had their eyes on the rookie …The 50/50 draw was worth over $700 …On Sanko’s second goal, announcer John Hammond got the press box crew laughing hysterically when he uttered Joe Urbanic’s last name as “Urbanko” – no matter how the Flyers look at it Joe played a great game …Hopefully many of the Flyers’ players and staff get some much-needed rest and sunshine this weekend as they head south for a three-day Caribbean cruise which leaves Fri. with the group returning Monday. Their next game is at home on Feb. 4 when they host London. Also, the club would like to extend welcome wishes to newly signed Mark Manchurek.

(photo credit – Jesse Anthony Sharron, Leamington Flyers facebook)

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