For The Journal
The Sarnia Legionnaires are heading into the GOJHL Showcase weekend following a season-opening 6-4 win against the Komoka Kings last week on home ice.
The win gives the Legionnaires a good start to build from, and also marked Brian Irwin’s first career GOJHL win as a head coach.
“Yeah it’s kind of a big deal, more so for the hockey team, I think,” he said. “We got off to a great start up 2-0 and then faced some adversity.”
Sarnia had a 2-0 lead early in the first period, but found themselves tied 2-2 after 40 minutes.
“We got down 3-2 early in the third and really answered the bell… we are leaning on our veteran guys to show the way. The scoring shows our returning guys really stepped up in the third period, it was a real good start and obviously the mood in the room after winning the home opener is a positive one.”
Anthony Tudino led the team with a goal and two assists, while Ty Moffat, Jace McGrail and Ryan Richardson each chipped in a goal and an assist. Logan Phillips got the start in net turning away 39 of 43 shots.
Phillips credits his team in front of him for making his job easier in the home-opener.
“We faced a lot of shots but the boys played well; we got a couple goals and killed a lot of penalties, and had the momentum most of the game,” he said.
The Legionnaires now prepare to hit the road for a pair of games at the GOJHL Showcase weekend, where teams from across the league gather and play inter-conference games. The weekend is designed to showcase the league’s talent all in one place and makes for a great scouting opportunity for schools and OHL teams — something Phillips says you can’t put too much thought into.
“Just gotta tell yourself it is just a game, don’t play it any different, just prepare the same way and just act like no one is watching you because you’re going to do your job whether someone’s watching or not.”
While it may be tough to prepare for teams in the other conferences, Irwin feels last week’s win not only gives them some momentum heading into this weekend, but also that they can face adversity and find ways to win.
“They just stuck with it, it’s a hard league to play in and every night will be a battle, and I thought it was a real positive reaction to adversity,” said Irwin referencing the team going down 3-2 early in the third period against Komoka.
“I thought we controlled a lot of the play in the first, didn’t play well in the 2nd, and then got back to work in the third and figured out how to win a hockey game. It’s not easy to figure that out and battle through adversity, and anytime you get tested early on and you get some success from it, it should bode well for the coming couple weeks here.”
Legionnaires will head to Elmira Friday night to take on the Pelham Panthers at 8 p.m., a team Irwin says Sarnia beat last season, and says they likely haven’t forgotten that.
“We played them last year in the showcase, I’m sure they will come at us and I am sure they remember we beat them last year, so they won’t take us lately.”
Sarnia will wrap up the Showcase weekend on Sunday at 7:30 pm against the Port Colborne Sailors.
Overall, Irwin knows there isn’t much of a scouting report to go on these teams, as you obviously don’t seem them through the season, but believes his team just needs to focus on their game in order to win.
“Our focus is on the details around our hockey team, continuing to work on systems and building identities. We’ve had two really positive practices this week, and I think the guys are ready.”
Sarnia returns home Thursday September 28 to host the Chatham Maroons at 7:10pm.