Legionnaires Break Long Streak With 5-4 Win Over Flyers – by C. Scott Holland

Relative parity is evident in much of the GOJHL’s West Conference.and some of the latest results show why. The first-place Leamington Flyers who had rolled during the first third of the season have suddenly struggled in most of their the last six contests while the Sarnia Legionnaires, who had visited Leamington on Sunday, have been on a roller coaster ride of their own.

In the matinee match-up – the first meeting of the two clubs at Leamington this season – Legionnaires’ starting netminder Will Barber dueled with the Flyers’ Connor Meyerink.

The outcome was a 5-4 Sarnia victory which ended one of the GOJHL’s longest periods of futility in the West. Sarnia had not won a game in Leamington during the last five seasons and had reached 15 consecutive games. The last time the Legionnaires won at the Highbury Canco rink was on Feb. 4, 2012 when they nipped the Flyers 6-5.

On Sunday the bulk of the credit for the win belonged to Barber who halted 42 shots and made as many fabulous saves as counterpart  Meyerink. For the Flyers it was their first regulation home loss of the season and their second in the last three contests. During the opening 40 minutes Leamington was fortunate to remain close as Sarnia jumped out to an early lead and used a second period offensive outburst that enabled them to claim the two points.

At 4:35 of the first, Sarnia’s Greg Hay unleashed a shot that sailed over Meyerink’s glove and made it 1-0. Near the 8 minute mark of the first Barber had to have some equipment repair done and back-up Blair Coffin replaced him until 8:48. Sarnia’s defense was sharp and did not allow any shots on Coffin during that brief spell. However, the Flyers drew even at 10:11 when Zach Guilbeault and Maddux Rychel hooked passes with Kenny styles whose right lane blast found the target. But minutes later with Styles sidelined for hooking, Sarnia went up 2-1 when Alec DeKoning plucked Jordan Hurtubise’s rebound and deposited it into the open left side of the net.

With two minutes gone in the second stanza another penalty cost the Flyers. This time Matt Stoia and Sam MacCormack laid the groundwork for DeKoning’s second powerplay marker of the game. Yet once again the Flyers regrouped and inched their way closer. Rychel and Styles made attempts to score before Nathan Skulley’s shot bounced off Barber and just barely bounded over the line. Both teams traded shots and some physical hits along the way until Leamington connected on a poweerplay at 11:33. Kade McKibbin sent Stephane Crevier and Griffin Robinson in on a two-on-one that ended with Robinson hammering the tally. With the contest knotted 3-3 the Legionnaires reaped a huge break when Jon Sanderson’s shot bounced into the net after hitting Meyerink’s blocker. Bad bounces have certainly haunted the Flyers of late and there would be one more to add to Leamington’s woes. Brock Perry would rifle a shot from the left side which hit Meyerink’s glove and continued onward into the net to make it 5-3.

Despite being down two goals, the shots during the first 40 minutes were fairly even. Sarnia and Leamington both had mustered 28.

In the third period the Flyers’ played some of the most solid hockey seen in a few games. But Will Barber would be the one who decided the eventual outcome. Barber was acrobatic and halted 17 of 18 shots, many of which were of high quality to keep the Flyers off the scoreboard until the very final minute. When Leamington did score, it was with an extra attacker. Head coach Tony Piroski pulled Meyerink for an extra man with 2:40 remaining and it took the Flyers until 19;46 to finally jab a rebound past Barber. Josh Pope-Ferguson got the goal after Jaydon Fetter and Bryce O’Brien made their attempts.

Leamington outshot the Legionnaires 18-8 in the final period.

NOTES:¬† It’s was a free slice of pizza for all fans – the pizza was courtesy of Domino’s Pizza, Canada and about 1050 fans enjoyed the free treat …Lineup changes were evident for both teams. Leamington was missing Dalton Langlois, Preston Corp and Dylan Weston while Joel Pavey, Aaron Jamieson and Josh Barraclough sat out for Sarnia …The Flyers have a tough stretch ahead as they play five games in the space of eight days – they are at home vs Komoka and London and travel to Sarnia, Chatham and LaSalle. Twice during that period they play on consecutive nights …Remembrance Day ceremonies will occur at home on Thursday Nov. 9th and on Sat. Nov. 11 when the Flyers visit Sarnia. The Flyers will have a Thursday night off on Nov. 23 (American Thanksgiving).

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