Flyers Trim Lincolns 4-3 In OT – by C. Scott Holland

With a couple of new acquisitions in their lineup the St. Marys Lincolns looked nothing like a last place team. It was the last contest for both the Lincolns and the hometown Leamington Flyers before the GOJHL Christmas break. But after 60 minutes of play both teams were knotted 3-3 and went to a five-minute four-on-four before it was decided and the game-winning tally was like a gift from Santa Claus as the Flyers prevailed 4-3.

However, the Lincolns had lots to cheer about themselves. They picked up a much-needed point to move into a tie with the Strathroy Rockets who lost 7-4 in Chatham. Plus St. Marys played a rather solid game with starting netminder Tristan Lewis stopping 46 of 50 shots.

The opening 20 minutes was rather dull as both teams tied to get into a groove. The hometown Flyers, with 481 fans on hand watching, kicked off the scoring at 7:54 when Cody Schneider set up Bryce O’Brien’s faceoff circle blast that bounded in off a post. Flyers’ starter Connor Meyerink had very few shots come his way and surrendered the tying goal at 17:55 when he blocked Tanner Hertel’s shot, but Matthew Zilke pounced on the rebound and flung it past Meyerink who had fallen onto his fanny and couldn’t make a save,

In the second the game’s intensity heated up as the Flyers’ puck control allowed them to pelt Lewis with 20 shots that included two goals. Leamington dominated the frame but only held a precious 3-2 edge heading into the final stanza.

At 3:35 of the second Rory DiNiro and Bryce O’Brien laid the groundwork for Josh Pope-Ferguson’s blast which handcuffed Lewis. Near the 13 minute mark Leamington made it 3-1 when Kenny Styles hooked a pass to Cody Schneider who left lane bullet blazed past Lewis. But once again the Lincolns showed their resolve and feistiness. Newly signed Lincs’ defenseman Ethan McDonald found Hertel and in turn, Hertel fed Zilke whose left lane shot beat Meyerink to make it a 3-2 contest.

Things began to get a bit testy as frustrations on both sides mounted. The Lincs knotted the game at 4:26 of the third when Clayton Lewis’ pass connected with Daniel Bancroft who closed in on Meyerink and deposited the puck into the top corner. At 6:33 Leamington’s Colton O’Brien and the Lincolns’ Nick Jung scuffled in the Flyers’ zone. The refs Shawn Hamelin and Jake Morrasut played Santa Claus and instead of handing out majors and game misconducts for fighting they both received double minors.

That move would later prove a lifesaver for Leamington.

At 2:59 of the first overtime after Leamington had come out asserting control and having a couple of good chances, Blake Bain found Colton O’Brien just inside the blueline and O’Brien moved ahead a few strides as he took the pass and cranked out a shot. Lewis stretched out his glove and got a slight piece of it but it wasn’t enough and the puck found the back of the net for the game-winner. For O’Brien it was his first goal of the season and his first tally as a Flyer. It was like Santa had given him and the Flyers a Christmas present!

NOTES:  The Flyers are off for their Christmas break and will return to action on Thurs. Jan. 4, 2018 when they’ll host the Chatham Maroons at 7:10 pm …On behalf of everyone in the Flyers and Lincolns organizations, plus the entire GOJHL, have a wonderful, Merry Christmas, and a prosperous, Happy New Year. We wish you the best in all your future endeavors and hope that everyone has a healthy, safe holiday season.

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