Flyers Edge Rockets 3-1 – by C. Scott Holland

It was the Leamington Flyers’ second game in 24 hours and while that fact may have had an impact on the final score, it was not enough a factor for the visiting Strathroy Rockets to overcome. Neither team showed exceptionally good form but they did provide the 610 fans watching the contest with enough action to keep them on the edge of their seats until the final minute when the Flyers sealed their 11th victory.

It was an extremely fast-paced match too. Refs Andy Anthony and Kyle Dowdell handed out only five minors and awarded one penalty shot. The entire 60-minute game was completed in one hour and 53 minutes.

Much of the game featured the two opponents trying to control some rather bouncy pucks and attempting to gain quality scoring chances. The latter were few and very far between.

The bulk of the scoring occurred during a three minute span in the opening frame. The Rockets used Joshua Diamond as their starter while the Flyers countered with Connor Meterink. Both faced a fairly  equal number of shots through 40 minutes. Meyerink and Diamond stopped 18 each but in the final stanza the Flyers blasted 16 at Diamond while Meyerink handled half as many.

Prior to the game, the Flyers honoured Don Nicholson, a long time member of Leamington Town Council, member of numerous local service clubs including the Lion’s Club and Goodfellows, as well as being a longtime coach and supporter of both Leamington Minor Baseball and Minor Hockey. The list of projects, committees and groups on which he has served is tremendously long and he has been a Flyers supporter for many long years. Also in attendance was interim GOJHL commissioner Mark Tuck who was on hand to present the September Goaltender of the Month award to Noah Hedrick, but that ceremony has been put on hold.

The Flyers opened the scoring at 10:18 as Jaydon Fetter and Rory DiNiro initiated a goalmouth scramble which Nathan Skulley completed by stuffing a third rebound past Diamond. With Rocket Brady MacDonald sidelined on a slashing call, the Flyers Josh Pope-Ferguson set up Jake Nimmo’s shot which bounded off Diamond before former Rocket Cody Schneider banged it into the open left side to put the Flyers ahead 2-0.

The Rockets wasted little time in getting back into the game via a weird play. As several players crossed in front of Leamington netminder Meyerink, heading from Meyerink’s right to left, MacDonald unleashed a shot which appeared to deflect off Cameron Rombout’s leg and past Meyerink.

A key play of the contest happened at 4:04 of the second when Ty Glover was hauled down on a breakaway attempt. He was awarded a penalty shot and slowly made his move before releasing a backhand which Meyerink grabbed. About a minute later the Rockets had a good scoring chance with a powerplay but the Flyers’ offense hemmed the Rockets into their own zone for nearly the entire two minute minor. Much of this period was spent trading shots and hits plus grappling for loose pucks. Neither team mounted many serious threats in the frame.

At the outset of the third it appeared as though the Flyers found a resolve to win this game. The began hammering shots from everywhere at Diamond but the Strathroy tender came up with some fabulous saves to keep his team in the hunt. With about 1:05 left the Rockets pulled Diamond for an extra man but seconds later while trying to gain the Flyers’ zone, Leamington veteran forward Blake Bain managed to fight off Rocket captain Greg Marks in the neutral zone and skate unmolested to the net and deposit the empty-net tally which sealed the win. At the sound of the final buzzer there was a bit of shoving along the boards but the refs got in and broke it up then decided no penalties were warranted.

NOTES:  Next week will be a tough for the Flyers. They play in London on Wednesday then are back home to face the Chatham Maroons on what is slated as Pink on the Rink night (Oct. 19) …Sitting out for the Flyers were: Kenny Styles, Maddux Rychel and Stephane Crevier while the Rockets had Aidan Burns, Jeff Williams, Matthew Stevens and TJ Harris sidelined. APJ player Sam Harris wore #15 for Strathroy ..Some fans asked about the Flyers’ best Jr. B starts. In 2015/16 they got off to a record of nine wins, two losses and a tie and in 2013/14 they went 10-1-1 OTL – a mark they would up to 14-1-1 before taking a second loss. Back in 1998/99 under head coach Kevin Hamlin the team got off to a 10-1-1 OTL record. This team is certainly looking very much like the powerhouse one in ’98/99.

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 writes occasional articles for the Southpoint Sun and the Strathroy Age Dispatch. 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, Mid-West and Golden Horseshoe Conference and GOJHL Record Books and Playoff Record Books  He has been a member of he Leamington Jr. Flyers hockey club for the last 28 years and has served many years as a board member, statistician, in the press box as an 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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