Flyers Get Back On Track Top Sarnia 3-1 – by C. Scott Holland
Despite having three players out with suspensions and one player on vacation with his family, the Leamington Flyers got back on track by topping the Sarnia Legionnaires 3-1 on Sunday afternoon.
A large crowd of 1,720 were on hand and included children from four area public schools on what was another “Pizza Day” at the Highbury Canco Arena in Leamington. Once again Domino’s Pizza of Canada supplied 320 pizzas to feed those attending Sunday’s contest. The Flyers and Legionnaires send many thanks to Domino’s CEO Mike Schlater for the company’s generosity.
Had it not been for Sarnia netminder Shayne Battler, the Flyers could have walked away with this contest easily. Battler made numerous good saves to keep his club within striking distance until the end while Leamington’s Tyler Wall was no slouch either and provided some key saves to earn his 24th victory of the season. The victory leaves him just two wins shy of tying the West Conference record for most wins by a rookie held by Chatham’s Sean Robertson in 2000/01 and three to break it.
Throughout the game both teams scrambled along the boards for loose pucks, but moreso in the tentative opening frame when neither side generated many good scoring opportunities. Leamington outshot the Legionnaires 7-5 in the first frame.
In the second period, the Flyers’ puck control gave them a slight edge. Leamington got the break they need at 1:38 when Colin Moore fed Derek Elliott who initiated a two-on-one break. Elliott flung a right lane shot across the goalmouth to where Liam Hogan was and Hogan flicked the feed past Battler for a 1-0 lead. The rest of the stanza was hard-fought with Leamington edging Sarnia 13-11 in shots but missing many good scoring chances.
Leamington played hard in the third and despite only having 6 shots on net they had the ones which connected for this game’s eventual outcome. At 4:23 Derek Elliott picked up a loose puck around the Sarnia net and fed Colin Moore who was behind the cage. Moore wisely zipped around to the right of Battler and stuffed into the net for a 2-1 margin. That wrap-around tally stood as the eventual game-winner, but more importantly Moore’s goal momentarily zapped bit of life from the Legionnaires. Yet Sarnia didn’t surrender easily. They exerted immense pressure on the Flyers’ defense during the remainder of the contest. Wall clung onto the precious 2-0 lead and made several outstanding saves but at 17:03 Moore was saddled with a crosschecking call and with just over 1:20 remaining in the game, Brandon Layman and Brock Perry hooked up to feed Jordan Fogarty who was open to Wall’s left side. Fogarty deftly drilled the puck into the open side to break the shutout bid and give Sarnia another chance to tie the game. With just over a minute remaining, Sarnia called a timeout and lifted Battler for an extra-attacker. They tried to gain the Flyers’ zone but a pass from Wall to JP Grineau made its way to Mark Manchurek. Manchurek who was tight along the left boards flung a shot towards the vacated Sarnia net and rolled in with 26 seconds left to seal the victory.
NOTES: Leamington had Essex 73’s player Brett Vorschuk in the lineup while Joe Urbanic, Aaron Langlois and Luke Sanko were serving suspensions. Captain Jacob McGhee was away on vacation …Sarnia was without Ryan Trottier and Brendan Shagena who was serving a suspension. As well PJ Vandervaart sat out ..Although unconfirmed, the St. Marys at Leamington game which was cancelled from this past Thursday will apparently be played next Sunday, Feb. 21 at 7:10 pm. With the victory the Flyers need a loss by London, or a win by themselves to clinch their third consecutive regular season title …The very first time that the Jr. B team went wire-to-wire in first place was in their second season – 1993/94.