Lincs Get Job Done vs Flyers; Win In OT – by C. Scott Holland

If a GOJHL fan had visited the Highbury Canco Arena on Thursday night and had seen the standings prior to the game, they might have thought that the Leamington Flyers would easily take care of the ninth place Lincolns. But what transpired was not exactly high calibre hockey. Both teams were sloppy in their work and in the end it was the Lincolns who won the contest 4-3 in OT and perhaps it was the Lincolns’ energy level throughout the nearly 65 minutes of play which got them the win. And for the Lincolns it was a simply getting the job done and earning a valuable two points.

With the victory, the Lincolns pulled to within two points of the eighth place Strathroy Rockets while Leamington slipped to third place a point behind second-place LaSalle. For St. Marys the win may have been huge because they now have four games in hand on Strathroy and a return engagement vs Leamington at home on Saturday night.

The opening frame went quickly but neither team had much in the way of good passing or shots on net. However St.Marys did cash in one of the frame’s best attempts and held a slim 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. That lone tally came courtesy of Dalon Bancroft who rifled a high shot from about the top of the right lane faceoff circle. Flyers starting goalie Noah Hedrick raised his glove but the puck eluded him.

Play got more heated in the second and it took only two minutes before a couple of coincidental minors were called. At 6:42 the Lincolns struck again to up the margin to 2-0. This time it, it was caused by a blatant giveaway by a Flyers’ defenseman who threw a pass right up the middle and had it intercepted by Austin Maietta who cranked a shot from the slot area that hit the target. A few minutes later Lincs’ newcomer Daniel Aspro and Flyer Colton O’Brien were about to engage in some combat but the officials got between them before anything further action took place. Both players were sidelined with minors for roughing and 10 minute misconducts for inciting. Meanwhile the Flyers flung 18 shots at Lincs’ goalie Evan Morrison and finally got  their first break at 17:40. With Michael Andrews off with a crosschecking call, Levi Tetrault and Griffin Robinson set up Jaydon Fetter who blazed a screen shot from the top of the slot to cut the lead. On the heels of that tally, the Flyers struck again to even the scoreboard count. Blake Johnson and Kade McKibbin laid the groundwork for Preston Corp’s tip in from in front of the net. The Flyers outshot the Lincs 18-6 in the middle frame after topping the Lins 9-7 in the first.

In the third period it became a wide-open and back and forth contest. Each team had its moments and each team had good opportunities which were missed or blown. At 8:12 the Flyers appeared to come out of whatever mid-winter sleep they were living in. Corp and Tetrault gave Fetter a long shot from around the top of the right lane faceoff circle and Fetter’s cannon shot hit the mark to spot the Flyers a 3-2 lead. Things appeared to be going in the Flyers’ favor until about the period’s midway juncture. Innocently the Lincs pressed the Flyers and on a low shot by St.Marys’ Jake Weston, Hedrick went down to grab the puck. Somehow he missed the disc and it squirted past him and into the net to knot the game. Tied at 3-3 the Flyers did not show any urgency that they wanted the win until the final 90 seconds. By then it was too late and the Lincs played solidly to gain at least one point.

In the OT Leamington had a couple of good chances to finish on top but squandered a few plays. As the first OT entered its final minute Lincs’ forward Mitch Bakker flung a shot at Hedrick as teammate Ben Maidment skated right to the doorstep. Maidment tipped the puck past Hedrick to give Morrison his first win of the season and a valuable two points that bring the Lincolns closer to a playoff spot.

NOTES:  Back-up goalie for Leamington was APJ  Noah Pitre who replaced Connor Meyerink …Also out of the lineup for the Flyers were: Andrew Thoms, Dalton Langlois and Dylan Weston. Out for the Lincs were goalie Tristan Lewis and Dan Cloutier ….Final shots were 41 by Leamington and 23 by the Lincolns …The Lincs are in the midst of playing three games in three nights. They are host Sarnia on Friday and on Saturday host the Flyers in a make-up game  They may also hold their own fate since they host Komoka twice and Strathroy once in the next couple of weeks. The outcome of those three contests may determine whether they gain a playoff berth …With the OT loss the Flyers gained one point and now trail LaSalle by a single point. Leamington has one game in hand on the Vipers and the two teams will play in Leamington on Feb. 15. Of the Flyers’ eight remaining games, five are on the road and three at home. They finish the season on Sat. Feb. 24 at Komoka. This year’s West wind-up banquet will be held in St. Thomas.

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