Flyers Double Kings 4-2; Get Back On Track – by C. Scott Holland

It may not have been as convincing a win as what the Leamington Flyers have had this season but it is one they will certainly take. Whatever it was that altered the Flyers’ game has nearly disappeared and that is a good sign for the first-place club – moreso since they have a heavy schedule in the next week.

A crowd of 670 watched the Komoka Kings and Leamington Flyers battle hard for three periods on Thursday night at the Highbury Canco Arena and it was the hometown Flyers who came out with a 4-2 victory.

After 40 minutes of play the two teams were deadlocked 2-2 and the Flyers might have entered the third wondering how to deal with the pesky Kings. But two Leamington tallies early in third solved that problem and gave them a 4-2 lead which they held until the final buzzer.

Leamington’s defense was much stronger in this contest than in recent home games and while the offense showed its prowess, it was not as overpowering as it could have been. Meanwhile the Komoka Kings displayed enough  resilience to keep close and for the new franchise competing against a top team is a sign of improvement.

Reagan Gies started between the pipes for the Kings and played well stopping 38 Flyers’ shots while Leamington counterpart Noah Hedrick faced 22 to get the win.

It did not take long for the Flyers to grab a 1-0 lead. The game had only elapsed 32 seconds when Jaydon Fetter found Maddux Rychel who went down the left wing and flung a pass to Josh Pope-Ferguson who was anchored near the net and Pope-Ferguson had an entire open half of a net in which to deposit the puck.  The Flyers clung to that lead until 16:28 when the Kings’ D’Arcy Panziera backhanded a pass from behind the Flyers net. Kurt Watson was right on the money and flipped it past Hedrick to knot the contest. Shots were even at nine per team.

The game’s intensity picked up in the second as the Flyers’ puck control enabled them to pummel Gies with 17 shots while Hedrick handled eight. At 5:16 Bryce O’Brien sent Zach Guilbeault on a breakaway. Gulbeault got the puck just before entering the Kings’ zone and manoevred around the defenseman before closing in on Gies. As he approached the netminder Guilbeault made a move to Gies’ glove side then twisted left and backhanded a shot past Gies. With Nathan Skulley sidelined for a double minor, the Kings got even when Wes Dobbin connected for a powerplay tally.

With the game tied 2-2, the Flyers continued to press but did not succeed in getting the upper hand until the third. They started strongly like they did in the second and carried an air of confidence. On a scramble play on Gies’ doorstep, Preston Corp and Bryce O’Brien tried their attempts before Dylan Weston finally jammed the puck past the Kings’ goalie to give the Flyers a 3-2 edge. At 6:53 Corp hooked up with Cody Schneider who unleashed a cannon-like shot from the left lane. Schneider’s marker served as the insurance goal and the Flyers played solid, defensive hockey for the next 13 minutes.

Discipline was a key factor in the third since the Flyers did not take any penalties thus curtailing any Komoka opportunities. The Flyers’ defense held Komoka to just 5 shots on net to further frustrate the Kings’ offense.

NOTES:  For the Flyers, it was the first of five games in an eight night span. They play two weekend road games – at Sarnia on Sat. and at Chatham on Sun. then visit LaSalle on Wed. and return home to face London on Thursday. They will play a rare Sun. night game in St. Marys on Nov. 19. They will have no home game on the 23rd but will return on Nov. 30 to face St. Thomas. At that point half the season will be done …A look at the GOJHL’s scoring leaders board after Thursday’s games showed that St. Thomas’ Kevin Hu is at the top with 37 points. He also leads with 17 goals and 22 assists. It is close for the top penalty minutes: Noah Campbell (STR) has 66 while the Stars’ Adam Keyes has 64. Chatham’s Ryan Wagner has nine wins to lead the West goalies  while the Flyers’ Noah Hedrick is second with eight; Strathroy’s Zach Weir has accumulated the most losses n the West with 10.

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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