LEAMINGTON FLYERS HUMILIATE CHATHAM MAROONS 7-1; TAKE 3-2 WEST SEMI-FINAL LEAD

Flyers Humiliate Maroons 7-1; Take 3-2 Series Lead – by C. Scott Holland

It was pouring rain outside but inside Highbury Canco Arena the Chatham Maroons appeared to have sprung a leak in their roof. It was a pretty intense game until Leamington broke it open in the second and chased starter Brendan Johnston to the bench. Johnston was replaced by Parker Butler at the start of the third when the score was already 5-1 in Leamington’s favour. Chatham by that point had completely lost their cool and composure plus were showing signs of the mounting frustration. In a series during which no home team had won a game, the hometown Leamington Flyers only had one setback and that was right at the outset when the Maroons’ tabbed the first goal on the game’s very shot. Afterward the Flyers reverted to their normal classy style of complete puck control, good goaltending plus a physical presence. It was the most solid 60 minutes of hockey either team has played in this series.

How dominate were the Flyers? Well they had seven goals by seven different scorers and another eight different players earn assists. That’s 15 players out of 18 skaters that had at least one point.

It was a total Leamington team effort – everybody played the best defensive game they could while Chatham’s defense was scrambling most of the night and often looked disorganized. Even Brendan Johnston’s best saves weren’t enough to help lift a team that struggled once they fell behind by three goals.

And let’s not forget the excitement rippling through the crowd of 1,425, plus a 50/50 draw worth in excess of $1,800. The game’s first half was noisy as electricity filled the air.

The Maroons’ got on the board first in much the same manner as the two previous games in Leamington. Mark Fratarcangeli and Michael Douglas combined passes with Connor Koviak who drilled a left lane shot just over the left shoulder of Flyers starter Tyler Wall at 3:06. But the Flyers bounced back with a renewed vigor. At 6:15 Zach Guilbeault and Mark Manchuek snapped a shot on net and Scott Emerson whisked the rebound past Johnston while on the right side doorstep. The night’s prettiest goal came at 14:56 when David Story fed Derek Elliott who had an entirely open left lane. Elliott cruised into the Chatham zone and unleashed a cannonball that found the top left corner leaving Johnston mesmerized by the shot.  Elliott, a right hand shot, had a great angle on net shooting from the left wing.

It was a gritty first frame and the Flyers outshot the Maroons 12-5. Leamington didn’t hesitate coming out of the gate in the second. By 8:22 Mitchell Crevatin and Cale Phibbs had hooked up with Scott Florence who scooped a goal by tucking the puck between Johnston’s pads and watching as it trickled over the red line. With a few players sidelined for penalty infractions, the Flyers managed to tab their fourth goal just as the penalty expired. Thomas Virban relayed the puck to Jacob McGhee whose top of the slot blast was tipped in by Colin Moore, who was on the left side doorstep. Gulbeault and Elliott aided Mitch Amante about a minute later as Amante collected his own rebound and jabbed it past Johnston to make it a 5-1 contest. Just as time ended in the second, a Leamington player was slashed as he approached the Chatham net. It had initially appeared that Johnston was the culprit but the penalty was assessed to defenseman Connor McKinnon. Once again Leamington outshot Chatham, this time by a 16-9 margin.

When the Maroons took to the ice to start the third, Parker Butler was between the pipes and Johnston was benched. The Flyers’ penalty-kill effectively killed an early Chatham powerplay and seconds afterwards Crevatin tossed the puck up to Mark Manchurek who raced out of the penalty box and went in on Butler with Mark Gangnon beading in on net as well. Gangnon reaped the reward as he got the puck and found the target. If the Maroons’ strategy was to eliminate Flyers players by fighting, the move backfired. Chatham’s Josh Barraclough took the bulk of the penalties. He received a five minute fighting penalty plus aggressor and instigator penalties and another five and a game for fighting a second time in the same stoppage. Chatham’s Delcan Conway took a five for fighting plus a game while his Leamington counterpart David Storey received five for fighting plus a game misconduct. Michael Levesque took a two minute roughing call plus a 10 minute misconduct and Leamington’s Zach Guilbeault had four minutes for roughing plus a 10 minute misconduct. Things were calm after that point and Leamington tacked on one final goal as they scored once on the seven minute powerplay they held. Luke Sanko and Gangnon worked the puck to the net until Matthew Opblinger parked the seventh marker on a left side rebound.

Final shot totals were Leamington 42 to Chatham’s 20. The Flyers went 2 for 10 on the powerplay while Chatham was zero on five attempts.

Notes: Sitting out for the Maroons were: Nolan VandenBoom, Aaron Jacobs and Chris Corigan while the Flyers sat Zak Parlette, Joe Urbanic and Aaron Langlois …While Leamington and Chatham did battle, the London Nationals hung on to defeat the LaSalle Vipers 4-3 in LaSalle. The victory gave London a 4-2 series win and a place in the West Conference finals …Ref-in-chief Greg Campbell was present for the contest.

UPCOMING GAMES: Sun. Mar. 27 Leamington at Chatham 7 pm Mon. Mar. 28 – Chatham at Leamington 7:10 pm if necessary

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. He resides in Leamington.

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