For The Journal
Komaoka started the scoring just 25 seconds in, but it would be the Sarnia Legionnaires closing the scoring at the end of the first, to secure a 4-3 win Thursday night in Sarnia, after back to back losses to Chatham last week.
It was a tight game that saw all the offense in the first period, followed by a 40-minute long goaltending duel.
“We were fortunate to get out of the first with a one-goal lead,” Legionnaires coach Brian Irwin told the Journal. “Got the guys to the dressing room and got them focused on the game plan and defensive structure, and I thought the final 40 minutes was a great GOJHL hockey game.”
After Komoka opened the scoring just 25 seconds in, on Judd Katz’s second of the season, the Legionnaires responded with three straight to go up 3-1.
Anthony Tudino scored his seventh of the year to get the Legionnaires even at 1-1 at the 5:18 mark of the first. Ryan Richardson and Wesley Brooks each picked up assists. Just under three minutes later, rookie Alexander Akena scored his first career goal to put Sarnia up 2-1. Matthew Anderson and Nathan Holland assisted on the goal.
Cameron Graham would then score a power play goal midway through the first giving Sarnia the two-goal lead; Brooks and Ty Moffat credited with the assists. It looked like Sarnia was in control at that point.
Komoka would call a timeout and refocus. The timeout seemed to pay off, as the Kings would cut the Sarnia lead to 3-2 on a goal from Jagan Chanderdat, his third of the season, at the 13:14 mark of the first. Just 20 seconds later, Brody Fraleigh notched his fifth of the season, and suddenly the Legionnaires found themselves in a tie game.
Irwin made a goaltending change in an effort to switch the momentum, and send a message to the team.
“We’ve got really good goaltending, we have no concerns about it,” said Irwin. “It was one of those things, they got back-to-back goals, I was concerned about the Kings taking momentum from us.
“The tools you have at your disposal to change the momentum are a timeout or a goalie change,” he continued.
Logan Phillips stopped 8 of the 11 shots he faced before Jack Martin entered in relief.
Irwin’s team certainly got the message however, as with just one second left in the period, Ty Moffat scored his fourth of the season from Cameron Graham and Ayden Hakkers, a goal that not only gave Sarnia the lead heading into the second, but also stood as the game winner.
“It’s a real testament to our veteran guys leading the way and getting the team stabilized,” said Irwin.
“It was 3-1 then they scored two goals less than 20 seconds apart to tie it up again. We were up 3-1, we had control of the game and then in the course of one shift it tied 3-3 and we were back into one.”
Martin went on to stop all 20 shots he faced to keep the Legionnaires out front 4-3 and pick up the win.
Legionnaires special teams were a factor; Sarnia scored once on six powerplay chances while the penalty kill did well to keep the lead. Sarnia was a perfect four-for-four on the kill. Three of those kills came after the first period.
Legionnaires have no time to relish in the victory however, as they head out on the road for a game in St Mary’s Friday night to play a second game in as many nights.
Irwin says the Lincolns, a team Sarnia beat last week, will come out hungry and they need to play a classic road game.
“St. Mary’s tonight, they’ve got a full rest and we’re doing a back to back tonight. Expecting a classic road game, just control the pace, chip pucks in and work on the forecheck. Off the glass and out in the defensive zone, expecting another good effort from the boys tonight”
The Legionnaires also wore retro Sarnia Bees jerseys in warmups; those jerseys are up for auction until the end of November, with proceeds to support the Sarnia Humane Society.
Bids can be placed during home games through November.