Flyers Double Legionnaires 4-2 – by C. Scott Holland

For both the Leamington Flyers and the visiting Sarnia Legionnaires, it was their second games in two nights when they tangled Sunday afternoon at Leamington’s Highbury Canco Arena in front of 1,075 fans. On a Domino’s Pizza night where each patron received a free slice of pizza (thanks to Domino’s of Leamington) the most interesting part of the game may well have been the opening minute of the contest which the Flyers won 4-2.

Much of the game was a physical affair but it was evident during a good majority of the match that both teams were drained after playing less than 24 hours previously.

Sarnia came out of the chute like gang-busters. After a scramble draw in the Legionnaires defensive zone Joey Zappa wired a high shot through traffic and past a screened Connor Meyerink in the Leamington goal. Only 13 seconds had elapsed and that tally left the Flyers shell-shocked. Zappa had registered a hat trick the previous night in Strathroy as the Legionnaires embarrassed the Rockets 8-3.  From the ensuing faceoff, Sarnia once again went into attack mode and after Meyerink had made one save, Sam MacCormack blasted the handiwork of Curtis Egert and Ethan Dupont from the left point and watched another screened shot sail into the top corner at 1:05.

At that juncture it might have bee appropriate to play music from A Nightmare On Elm Street. But the Flyers managed to regroup quickly and get into the contest. Leamington cut the lead at 6:25 just after a powerplay attempt ended. Blake Bain and Josh Pope-Ferguson tried shots on net before Griffin Robinson plucked a rebound while standing on the doorstep and whisked it past Legionnaires’ starter Jorgen Johnson. By the time the first frame ended the Flyers had just barely outshot Sarnia 10-8 but trailed 2-1.

At 4:20 of the second, Leamington lost defenseman Nicolas Mainella who received a check-from-behind minor penalty and automatic game misconduct.  The Flyers dominated the Legionnaires throughout much of the period and the physical state of the players was beginning to show. Often the teams battled along the boards or in the corner for puck control. The Flyers certainly had plenty of scoring opportunities but missed the net on many of them. However, they did put 13 shots on Johnson and got the equalizer. That tying goal came at 15:35 while on a powerplay when Jarrett Marks was sidelined for interference. Scott Florence and Zack Guilbealt set up Jaydon Fetter who unleashed a screen shot from the top of the slot.

Both teams appeared to be running almost on empty in the third as the miscues and mistakes were very evident. With overtime looming, Zak Parlette cannoned a shot from the right point after taking a feed from Cale Phibbs and Mitchell Crevatin. For the second straight home game Parlette’s zinger found the mark at 18:14. Down 3-2, the Legionnaires swarmed the Leamington net after the faceoff. The scrum which resulted saw several penalties hailed. Derrick Johnston was handed two minutes for slashing and a second two minutes for roughing. Teammate Trevor Bogaert took two minutes for roughing while Leamington’s Zach Guilbeault and Liam Hogan had two minutes each also for roughing. All four players received 10 minute misconducts as well. Sarnia  pulled their goalie for an extra attacker but the Flyers defense kept them well out of shooting range. With a man advantage and time running out, a shot on the empty Sarnia net looked as though it would fall short until Griffin Robinson caught up to it and nudged it across the line at 19:59.

NOTES:  Warm-ups were a bit strange for the fans. Both teams came out wearing their third sets of jerseys – both black in colour. Leamington reverted to their hometown whites prior to the contest …In warm-ups Guilbeault did not have his black jersey and was donning one without a name and the number 23. He wore his regular number 15 during the game since he didn’t need his black jersey …The 50/50 draw run by Southpoint Minor Hockey was in excess of over $400 – one of the highest this season …Apologies to fans sitting in the SE corner – one of the new speakers was not working. The speaker will be looked at and hopefully fixed prior to Thursday’s game  …Regular Flyers goalie Noah Hedrick was again out of action and APM Tristan Edmondson took his spot in the lineup. Also sitting for Leamington was Parker Jacques and Dallas Maurovic while the Legionnaires sat Yianni Skropolis  …The second half of the home and home series takes place Tuesday night at 7 pm in Sarnia. The Flyers return home on Thursday for a game against LaSalle.

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 occasional historical articles 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 2004/05 editions; as well as providing updates of both the West Conference and GOJHL Record Books. He was been a member of the Leamington Jr.B Flyers hockey club for the last 28 years and served many years as a board member, statistician, press box announcer, and scorekeeper among other duties with the Flyers and Western Jr. B  Hockey League. He has been named the West Conference Volunteer of Year and has garnered a Windsor-Essex Sportsperson of Year award. He has been a member of the Leamington and Mersea Historical Society since 1988 and continues to follow GOJHL action.   

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