Special to The Journal
If the Sarnia Legionnaires are going to make some noise this year, they’ll have to do it with defence and goaltending.
So says head coach Mark Davis.
The Jr. ‘B’ hockey club has lost five of its top six scorers from last season to graduation, leaving it with precious little in the way of firepower.
“When we got four goals in Chatham (during an exhibition game) I thought of calling the fire department so we could get a fire truck for a parade,” the bench boss joked at the end of the pre-season.
“That may be the most goals we’ll get all year. There are going to be a lot of 1-0 and 2-1 games.”
Davis is counting on highly touted rookie goalie Jorgen Johnson to help him win a lot of low scoring contests. During the preseason, the Michigan netminder had the best statistics in the entire 27-team Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, with a sparkling 0.92 goals-against-average and an equally impressive 0.971 save percentage.
Backing him up will be rookie Travis Moore, who played Jr. ‘C’ hockey last winter.
On defence, the Legionnaires are in good shape, with veterans Sam McCormack, Brett Storr, Nash Neinhuis, Eric Marsh and Derrick Johnson back, along with Zach Vanderwal, who played up front last year.
“Our defence is our strong point,” Davis said. However, he cautioned the team’s defensive zone coverage needs some work, mainly because “we’ve got guys who have come from different systems” who will have to learn how to work together.
If there’s going to be a scoring ace it may be Brock Perry, although at this writing he was still in the camp of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting.
Other veterans forwards include Captain Hunter Tyczynski, Jarret Marks, Joey Zappa, Alec DeKoning, Ethan DuPont and Austin Bentley.
Rookie Alec Scarsella is a smooth skater and an excellent puck handler who could become an impact player. Other first-year forwards, all of whom have had their moments in training camp, include Vince Jake, Cameron Rainnie, Matt Hunt, Trevor Bogeart and Justin Vanbuskirk.
Davis said it might be close to Christmas before he’ll know how good the Legionnaires are.
Overall, he’s confident, saying, “Our future looks good.”
In fact, he thinks Sarnia can capture a top four spot in the standings – and with it home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.