Flyers Win Key Battle vs Sarnia 5-3  – by C Scott Holland 

For both the Sarnia Legionnaires and the Leamington Flyers, Thursday night’s contest was huge in terms of points and final playoff positions. The Flyers were looking to move three points ahead of the LaSalle Vipers while Sarnia was looking to break a fourth-place deadlock with the St. Thomas Stars.

In the end it was the hometown Flyers who came away with the two points and a hard-fought 5-3 victory.

The opening salvo of the contest belonged to Sarnia and came before many of the 585 in attendance were settled in. At 2:19 Legionnaires’ Jake Vince unleashed a long shot from inside the blueline and Leamington starting netminder  Noah Hedrick was on his knees and appeared to have made the save. But the puck squirted out from under his pads and slid across the goal line to make it a 1-0 game.  However, the Flyers rallied immediately afterward and Blake Bain and Jaydon Fetter set up Dylan Weston’s shot which handcuffed Sarnia goalkeeper Blair Coffin. Late in the frame Brock Perry unleashed a high blast from the slot which sailed past Hedrick for a 2-1 Sarnia edge

In the middle stanza, Leamington played with more poise and puck control altnough both teams tried to gain the next important tally. Leamington evened the score at 6:29 when Griffin Robinson drilled Josh Pope-Ferguson’s feed into the Sarnia net.  Less than a minute later Sarnia forward Greg Hay was injured around the Leamington net and limped off the ice. The Flyers jumped into the lead at 9:24 when Weston pumped a red-hot shot from the slot which sailed past Coffin to make it a 3-2 contest. Three of the game’s five penalties were called at 16:51 when Leamingfton’s Noah Hedrick was assessed a holding-the-stick penalty while teammate Jaydon Fetter was given two minutes for crosschecking and Sarnia’s Joey Zappa got two minutes for roughing. On the ensuing powerplay, Leamington showed how string they can be defensively as they held control of the puck for nearly the entire two minute minor and much of that time was spent in the Sarnia end zone.

Near the three minute mark of the third, the Flyers got a break when Kenny Styles took a shot towards the Sarnia net from almost a 180 degree angle. The puck somehow bounced off a player and slithered into the net. After killing a minor penalty, Leamington found themselves holding another slim lead as the Legionnaires’ Alec DeKoning  narrowed the score with a left side flick of the wrist from in close. The Legionnaires lifted Coffin for an extra attacker with about 50 seconds left but did not get much of a chance to notch a tying goal. Leamington had two empty-net attempts thwarted before with 8 seconds remaining in the game, Cody Schneider went deep with the puck and backhanded it into the vacated cage.

Unofficial final shots were 32 for Sani, 30 for Leamington.

Remaining Schedule:  The Flyers now have five games left – two at home – Feb. 15 vs LaSalle and Feb. 22 vs St. Thomas and three road contests – Feb. 10 at Strathroy, Feb. 17  at Sarnia and Feb. 24 at Komoka. Sarnia has six contests left. They are at St. Thomas (Feb. 9) and finish the season at Strathroy Feb. 24. Their other four games are at home  when they host  London (Feb. 13), St. Marys (Feb. 13), Leamington (Feb. 17) and Chatham (Feb. 22).

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