Lincs Shock Flyers Initially Before Falling 7-3 – by C. Scott Holland

Strange night. Was it a full moon? The fact that St. Marys’ bus broke down in Tilbury causing the game to be delayed until 7:30 pm or perhaps it was the high number of Flyers sitting out the contest? Whatever the reason, St. Marys had the 412 Flyers fans gasping by the 10 minute mark of the opening frame. Despite having a 3-0 lead the Lincolns faltered and the Flyers replaced shaky starter Michael Barrett with Tyler Wall and hit cruise control. Leamington notched seven unanswered goals to win the game 7-3. The score could have easily been much higher had it not been for a stellar first frame from Lincoln tender Paul Town.

The Lincolns’ night was already long enough as their charter bus broke down in Tilbury and had to make the remainder of the journey to Leamington via a school bus from Tilbury (about a 45 min. trip after moving all their equipment and belongings.)

But once the game began it appeared as though the lack of pre-game exercises worked to the Lincolns’ advantage. At 3:03 Dan Cloutier fed Ryan Martin who unleashed a screen shot from the top of the slot and his shot eluded Barrett for a 1-0 lead. On the heels of an unsportsmanlike penalty to David Storey, Nolan King converted a Martin feed catching Barrett down and out and flipped it into an open side of the net for a powerplay tally. Then at 9:23 Martin drilled a shot from the left lane that sailed past Barrett. Leamington’s coaching staff yanked the veteran netminder and inserted Tyler Wall. It took Leamington less than a minute to get rolling.

At 10:16 the flood gates opened as Matthew Opblinger and Mark Gangnon tried gunning goals before Colin plucked a loose puck and shovelled it into the left side of the Lincs’ net. Moore and Gangnon hooked up again at 14:05 on a scramble play around the net with Opblinger tabbing the goal. Down by a 3-2 count, the Flyers continued their comeback when Zak Parlette’s feed was drilled onto net by Mitch Amante. But Mark Manchurek collected the fat rebound and rifled it into an open net to forge a 3-3 tie.

It was a completely different Flyers team in the second period. Leamington played the brand of hockey which permitted them to gain first-place. Puck control, solid defensive work, some stellar saves by Wall and putting plenty of shots on net allowed them to take a 6-3 lead. At 1:23 while on a powerplay Amante and JP Grineau hooked passes until Scott Emerson triggered a top of the slot shot which bounded off both posts and the crossbar before going into the net. At 7:11 Cale Phibbs set up David Storey’s right point blast which found an open corner. Near the second frame’s midway mark, Wall made a fantastic save on Graham Brulotte who cruised down the middle of the ice on a breakaway but the rookie Leamington goalie stood his ground and halted Brulotte’s shot. It was definitely a turning point which curtailed St. Marys from inching any closer to the Flyers’ lead. The Flyers put the game out of reach at 11:26 when Phibbs and Scott Florence went on a two-on-one breakaway with Florence hammering the goal. Fifteen seconds later Lincs’ forward Ryan Martin was ejected for a check-from-behind. In the final minute of the period, the Flyers suffered a casualty of their own as St. Marys’ Mike Tuffin and Leamington’s Colin Moore and David Storey were all sidelined with roughing penalties. Storey left the ice with an apparent injury and never returned.

The third stanza was extremely quiet and featured just one tally by Leamington. Cale Phibbs converted Scott Florence’s pass from the slot with a cannon shot that baffled Town. Meanwhile the Flyers’ defense just kept the Lincs off stride and allowed only four shots on Wall.

Leamington outshot the Lincolns 56-19 and went 1 for 2 on the powerplay while St. Marys went 1 for 5.

NOTES: Fortunately for the Lincolns they had a charter bus for the ride home …Leamington had McGhee, Sanko, Crevatin, Urbanic, Elliott and Hogan all out while Riley Meyerink, Max Viselli and Brendon Fehr were call-ups. It was Fehr’s first Jr. B game
… With just two games remaining Tyler Wall has tied Chatham’s Sean Robertson for the most wins by a rookie in the West Conference (26) and could play either Thursday night when the Flyers host St. Thomas or Friday night when Leamington finishes the 2015/16 season at St. Marys.  Leamington will play either the Lincolns or Lambton in the first round of playoffs.

(photo credit – Leamington Flyers facebook)

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.

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