LEAMINGTON FLYERS FALTER AT HOME AGAIN; LOSE 4-3 TO CHATHAM MAROONS

Flyers Falter At Home Again; Lose 4-3 To Chatham – by C. Scott Holland

The old saying that playoffs are a completely different season has held true in the second round series between Chatham and Leamington. The hometown Flyers who hardly lost a game at home during regular season have suddenly found themselves unable to grab a victory on home ice. On Tuesday night, in what was the first of three playoff games in three nights, Leamington fell behind early and battled back to knot the game twice before surrendering the eventual game-winner only 15 seconds after making a game of it.

The Flyers outshot the Maroons 34-19 but the shots were not indicative of the final outcome.

Uncharacteristically, the Flyers strong defense and goaltending has been anything but in their two home appearances this round plus quite often Leamington’s potent offense was stung by their own hesitations. Most of all they allowed Chatham’s pressure to cause turnovers, giveaways and starter Tyler Wall has looked nothing like the goaltender who had played so superbly during regular season.

Leamington owned the first period outshooting the Maroons 14-3 but two of those three Maroons shots were powerplay goals. Chatham’s Gus Ford connected with Steve Beenackers whose right side shot eluded Wall for a 1-0 lead. Thirty seconds after that tally Leamington’s Colin Moore was sidelined for head-checking. As time ran out on the period the Flyers’ defense failed to clear the puck and Teddy McGeen plucked his own loose rebound then flipped it up over Wall’s glove.

In the middle frame the Flyers narrowed the deficit to 2-1 when Mark Manchurek fed Jacob McGhee who spun around with the puck and whisked it past Johnston while a crowd gathered on the doorstep. Half a minute later Chatham’s Austin Thompson took a slashing call and the Flyers drew even. J.P. Grineau and Matthew Opblinger were given assists on Scott Emerson’s powerplay tally which came on a left side rebound. Uncredited for some of the hard work on that play was Mitch Amante. But Chatham surged ahead once again at 17:30 when Thompson and Ian Faubert got Michael Douglas the puck. Douglas unleashed a shot through traffic just under the crossbar which caught Wall off guard. A short series of mostly stick penalties occurred thereafter and included Beenackers crosschecking a Flyers player and then Flyers’ defenseman Jacob McGhee retaliating which negated any powerplay.

Down 3-2 at the start of the third, the Flyers reverted to puck control until Maroons’ player Josh Barraclough took a two-minute charging penalty which upset the Maroon bench. Leamington seized the opportunity and McGhee set up Scott Florence’s right point cannon shot which was like a laser beam and found the Maroons’ net. A huge turning point in the contest came from the ensuing faceoff. The Maroons won control and blazed into the Flyers’ end zone with Michael Levesque and Devin Panzeca driving to the net. Panceca’s shot was halted by Wall but Ross Krieger picked up the rebound and lifted it over Wall’s outstretched glove and into the net to make it 4-3.

A final powerplay drive was handed to the Flyers when Blair Derynck was assessed a tripping penalty. But the Flyers couldn’t dent starter Brendan Johnston’s armour. With 1:20 remaining in the game, Wall was lifted for an extra attacker but several miscues and shoddy work left the Flyers unable to muster any kind of powerful offense.

NOTES – The announced attendance was 1,067 and the 50/50 draw was over $1,200 …A key play of the game was the Flyers’ ability to kill a four-minute highsticking penalty …Out of the lineup for Chatham was Cory Bussing (serving a one game suspension), Chris Corigan and Nolan VandenBoom. Sitting out the game for the Flyers were: Nicolas Mainella, Aaron Langlois and Joe Urbanic …the best of 7 series continues with game 4 – Wed. Mar. 23 in Chatham (7 pm) and game 5 in Leamington (7:10 pm) on Thurs. Mar. 24; game 6 is slated for Chatham (7 pm) on Sun. Mar. 27 if necessary and game 7 back in Leamington Mon. Mar. 28 (7:10 pm) if necessary.

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