By Chris Clark
The Western Jr. C league’s top player proved his worth once again on the weekend, as the Wingham Ironmen stunned the Mount Forest Patriots 7-3 and 6-2 in a two-game home-and-home stand.
Wingham scoring machine Aaron Armstrong collected a goal and four assists in the 6-2 win in Mount Forest on Saturday, to go with two goals and four more assists in Friday’s 7-3 final. The two wins extend the gap between the teams, as the Patriots work to rise above Wingham in the league standings.
In Wingham on Friday, the home side built a 2-0 lead in the first period. Mount Forest rallied to make it 2-2 in the second, but a strong third period from the Ironmen stole the victory. Dean Nixon took an assist from Brad Larkin for the first Patriot goal, and Ben Davis scored the second from Nixon and Dave Culliton.
Wingham led 5-2 when Davis sparked the Patriot offense with a goal assisted by Culliton and Nixon, but two final Ironmen markers brought the game to a close. Few penalties were called in the game, but they did prove costly as the home side managed one powerplay goal and two shorthanded efforts.
Back in Mount Forest on Saturday, the results were much the same as the night before as Wingham led 3-0 in the opening frame. Luke Richardson eventually found the twine for Mount Forest to make it 3-1, thanks to assists from Trevor Hughson and Mitch Betts.
Culliton kept up his scoring streak with a powerplay goal to open the second period, but it turned out to be the final goal of the night for the snakebitten Patriots. Linemates Nixon and Davis earned the assists on the goal, while Wingham scored two more in the period. Another shorthanded Ironmen tally in the third period then wrapped up the 6-2 final.
In earlier action to close out December, the Pats swallowed a pair of narrow losses as Hanover surprised the locals 3-2 in a shootout and Walkerton managed a 4-1 win.
Doug Ardis scored both Mount Forest goals against the Barons, and there for the assists were Doug Costanzo, Matt Marshall and Nixon. Former Patriot captain Robbie Moe was the best of the Hanover roster, with a goal and assist.
Nixon scored a powerplay goal from Davis to open the scoring against Walkerton, but Walkerton’s Drew Davidson had a career night with a natural hat trick and empty net goal.
The Patriots are currently fifth in the Western league with 29 points, and trail Wingham with 36, Mitchell with 37, Kincardine with 43, and Walkerton with 52 points. Goderich recently defeated Hanover in a duel for the league basement, and Hanover now has 24 points while Goderich has a surprise three points.
Atop the league, Wingham’s Aaron Armstrong is in the throes of a record-setting season. After his big weekend against Mount Forest, the Ironmen sniper now has 42 goals and 66 assists for 108 points. With five games still remaining on the schedule, Armstrong is only five points back of the all-time Western Jr. C points record Hanover’s Dave Hopkins set in 1987.
A pair of Mount Forest Patriots have led the league in scoring, as Nick Locking topped all Western Jr. C scorers for two years from 2003-05, and Jeff Rahn was the best of the best back-to-back from 1994-96.
The Patriots return to home-ice action this Friday night, when they host the Goderich Sailors at 8:30 p.m. and welcome the Mitchell Hawks to Mount Forest on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 8 p.m.