St. Marys Lincolns’ team goal in the New Year consists of three words: ‘make the playoffs.’
Lincs have 15 regular-season games remaining—seven at home and eight on the road. Two of those games are against Lambton Shores Predators, the team they are attempting to catch for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“The big picture, of course, is making the playoffs,” Lincs’ assistant coach Jared Frayne said at practice last week. “We’re just two points out of it right now, and we’ve got some big games coming up.
“We’re on a bit of a roll right now, winning three of our last four (to end the 2013 portion of the schedule). It’s time to go, and the boys know it. We just have to keep working hard, we’re getting the goaltending, and we’re starting to put the puck in the net.”
Lincolns (5-28-1) play the Preds (5-25-3) on Tuesday, Jan. 21 in Forest. The teams also meet Friday, Feb. 14 in St. Marys, Lincolns’ third last game of the Western regular schedule.
•Forward Cody Filson points out other reasons for Lincs’ recent success (3-3 in their last six games).
“First of all, we’re getting solid goaltending back there,” Filson said. “(Andrew Masters) has been getting 50-plus shots per game and he’s making the saves.
“And I think we’re been working harder as a group, collectively, and our defence has been stepping up.
“And the lines have been finding some chemistry, too. That’s been helping out as well. We just have to keep working hard and keep battling and everything will work out for us.”
•Following practice on Sunday night, St. Marys coach Mike Crespeigne says the team hopes to add a couple of players before the OHA’s Jan. 10 trading deadline.
“I think we have some irons in the fire and we have some room to add a couple of players,” Crespeigne told the Journal Argus. “We want to fill those cards for sure.
“We’re hoping for a trickle-down effect from the OHL and the Tier II Jr. ‘A’ teams. But I think it will become a little clearer in the next 72 hours as we get closer to this Friday and things will start to heat up.
“We’re definitely buyers and not sellers. We have a pretty good core here and we’re going to try and build around them for this year and next year. We’re not going to let anybody go this year,” the coach said.
•Lincolns’ GM Bill Bourne noted Sunday that the team has no import cards left. However, the Lincs have asked for another import card from the OHA, but likely won’t hear until Jan. 9.
Their last import card was used to sign goalie Andrew Masters after goalie Connor Hughes was promoted to Ottawa 67s of the OHL. Bourne said he was hoping to use that import card on a skater.
•Former Lincolns’ defenceman Scott Driscoll (1985-89) served as a linesman for the New Year’s Day Winter Classic at Michigan’s ‘Big House’, featuring the NHL game between Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings.
A record 3.57 million viewers across the country took in the Original Six match-up. It is also the largest audience ever for a non-playoff NHL game in Canadian broadcast history.
•Former Lincs’ standout goalie Bryan Hince (2005-07) has an 11-7-2 record with Knoxville Ice Bears of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
Hince has a 2.73 goals-against average, with two shutouts. He recently recorded three SPHL wins in a span of just five days.
The 27-year-old native of Kapuskasing is in his fourth season in professional hockey.
•St. Marys minor hockey product Brent Rae leads Mitchell Hawks in scoring with 16 goals and 24 points in 25 Western Jr. ‘C’ League games following weekend action. Six of his goals have come on powerplays.
The 21-year-old Rae is in his third full season with the Hawks. The big forward also led the team in scoring the past two seasons. Rae had 21 goals and 45 points in 34 games with Mitchell a year ago.