By Dan McCaffery
Rookie Jeff King's nifty shootout goal propelled the Sarnia Legionnaires to a come-from-behind 3-2 win over the Leamington Flyers Tuesday.
The 16-year-old rearguard deked goalie Matt Mancina out of his skates before backhanding home the winner.
Afterward, head coach Dan Rose said he selected the rearguard as his third shooter because King is a skilled player who had done well in penalty shot competitions during team drills.
"We practice it all the time and we knew King was good at it,” Rose said. He added he also wanted to give the youngster a chance to boost his confidence.
Leamington got the first goal of the shootout, but Jason Teschke scored on Sarnia's second try to deadlock the competition and set the stage for King's dramatic thrust.
Rose felt the Legionnaires struggled much of the night because they were trying too hard. “The kids want to win so bad, they've gotta relax,” he said.
The Flyers jumped into a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period, with their second goal coming late in the frame.
"We played well in the first period, we just had a bad shift at the end,” Rose said. “They outworked us in the second period.”
Still, the Legionnaires got the only goal of the middle stanza when Davis Boyer fired in a shot from the side of the net. A stretching Mancina appeared to get his glove on the low drive but it deflected into the cage.
Teschke and Derek D'Andrea assisted on the goal, which was Boyer's 9th of the season.
With time winding down in the third period, Bobby King tied the game, firing in a shot from close range that, once again, Mancina almost stopped. The rubber bounced off the goaltender, hit the post, struck the netminder a second time and then rolled slowly over the red line.
Tyler Prong got the lone helper on the play, although King said Spencer Bronzi's hard digging behind the Flyers net made the whole thing possible.
It was King's second goal of the campaign.
Mancina, Sarnia goalie Sean Parker and Jeff King were all named stars of the contest.
Leamington outshot the Legionnaires 41-38.
Sarnia returns to action Thursday when it hosts the London Nationals.
Bobby King said the win over the Flyers should give the Legionnaires a boost when they face the highly rated Nats.
"It's big to beat the first place team (Leamington),” he said. “It gives us a lot of confidence.”
Rose said his club has played London tough in two games this year, winning the first one before dropping a close encounter in the second match.
Derek Drouin, who won a bronze medal in high jumping at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, and Dominique Pegg, the famed artistic gymnast from Sarnia, will be on hand for the game with the Nats.
Theo Bet, vice president of marketing for the Jr. 'B' hockey club, said the pair will take part in pre-game ceremonies, including a ceremonial puck drop at 7:10 p.m.
He also expects they will sign autographs.
Children 12 and under will be admitted free with a paying adult.