For The Journal
The Sarnia Legionnaires played a pair of games in Elmira last weekend for the GOJHL Showcase weekend, beating Pelham 4-2 and dropping a high scoring game to Port Colborne 8-6.
The team began the weekend taking on the Pelham Panthers, with rookie goaltender Jack Martin making his GOJHL debut and picking up his first career win in the process.
“It’s great,” Martin told The Journal. “I wasn’t expecting a win in my first start, but it’s good to get it out of the way and not have the nerves moving forward.”
Sarnia played a tight battle with the Panthers trailing 1-0 after the first period, and tied heading into the third period after Anthony Tudino scored his second of the season.
Sarnia would get goals from Austin Harper and Ty Therien just 26 seconds apart in the third period to go ahead 3-1— both picking up their first goals of the season.
The Legionnaires went on to finish with a 4-2 win, after Harper added his second of the game into the empty net. Martin stopped 24 of the 26 shots he face.
“Really happy for Jack,” Legionnaires coach Brian Irwin said before practice on Tuesday night. “It’s nice for him to step into the first one and have some success; we needed him and he made some saves when we needed them.
“I think our defense structure was good against Pelham and it was only a matter of time before we broke through,” he added. “Five-on-five I thought we were the better team, so I think we got rewarded.”
Sarnia would finish the GOJHL Showcase weekend with an 8-6 loss to Port Colborne, a game that didn’t see much five-on-five action.
“It was a wild night, refereeing wise,” Irwin said.
Sarnia only gave up two power-play goals on 10 chances.
“Penalty killing has been really good, and our staff has no concerns with power-play; with the talent we have it’s just a matter of time before it starts clicking.”
Irwin said his was the better team five-on-five, despite the calls not going their way.
“We had some shifts where Port Colborne Sailors were hitting the boards hard and we were finishing checks and making it uncomfortable for them, and I think all that bodes well for us going forward.”
The Legionnaires would give up a goal late in the second period to go down 6-5, and early in the third found themselves down 7-5. Ayden Hakkers would bring them within a goal with his first goal, but the Sailors would score late in the third on a penalty shot to seal the deal in the 8-6 final.
Ty Therien scored twice, Austin Harper and Colin Langstaff each added a goal while Ayden Hakkers and Iain MacIassac each had a goal and an assist.
Irwin was pleased to see how many of his guys picked up their first goals over the weekend.
“Our scoring will run more than one line deep; we’re getting some scoring down the line up… the top guys are fantastic, not only from an offensive perspective, but also the leadership,” Irwin said, noting how his leadership group delivers messages throughout the game to the younger guys.
Logan Phillips had the start in the Port Colborne game, stopping 17 of 23 before getting pulled late in the second period. Phillips knows as a goalie, a short memory is needed for games like this.
“You just gotta take it one day at a time, what happened happened and you can’t go back,” he said. “Just have to forget about it and prepare a little harder.”
“We had a lot of positives in that game,” he added. “Even though it didn’t go well for us, we had a few kinks in our game, and I think that’s a good thing early on, because we can figure some stuff out now and get ready for our loop.”
“I have 100% confidence the guys will bounce back,” said Irwin looking ahead to Thursday’s game against the 0-4 Chatham Maroons. “Chatham is a good team, they’re not an 0-4 hockey club, so we know they’re going to come in Thursday night with a burr in their saddle.”
Irwin knows his hockey club will need to match Chatham’s intensity and says his team understands what the Chatham game means from a rivalry standpoint.
“We’re looking forward to it, we’ll face Chatham six times this year and I’m sure if there is no animosity in game one, there will be by game two, and by game three just continue to amp up the energy as we go forward through the season.”
Sarnia continues their season Thursday night at the Pat Stapleton Arena against the Chatham Maroons, puck drops at 7:10 p.m.