By Dan McCaffery
A dramatic comeback in the third period lifted the Sarnia Legionnaires to a 7-4 victory over the London Nationals Thursday.
With a crowd of almost 1,100 fans looking on at the Brock Street Barn, the Legion crew scored four unanswered goals in the final frame to erase a 4-3 deficit and skate off with the win.
But the contest was closer than the score would indicate, with two of Sarnia's goals going into an open London net during the final minute of play.
Afterward, coach Dan Rose said his club showed great character by battling back the way it did.
"The guys came back and I was proud of them, he said. Our guys battled hard.
He singled out Zack Tuchklaper for praise, saying the big forward played his best game of the season for the Legionnaires.
Rose also lauded Brent Sauve, saying He played the way he's capable of playing. He was awesome.
Sauve got the winner with a little over seven minutes to go, finishing off a three-on-two break with a shot from the side of the net.
"This was a huge boost for us, Savue said. We've beaten two top teams this week (the other being Leamington, whom the Legionnaires defeated Tuesday).
It was a roughhouse game from start to finish, featuring four game misconducts. Included in the infractions were a pair of five minute majors (one for a head check, another for slashing), a game misconduct for checking from behind and a prolonged fight.
The fisticuffs were started by Nats forward Paxton Leroux, who jumped rookie rearguard P.J. Vandervaart. Both got in several thunderous blows in what was almost a full minute of scrapping.
The Nationals, who have one of the best powerplays in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, scored three times with the extra man. Two of their goals came while they had a two-man advantage.
Hunter Tyczynski gave Legionnaires a 1-0 lead early in the first period, scoring from the slot.
Defenceman Steve Farlow made it a two-goal bulge with a drive from the point, but London tied it with a pair of powerplay markers.
Josh Kestner restored the lead for Sarnia early in the middle stanza when he popped in a passout from behind the net from Nathan Mater.
With London leading 4-3 in the third, Teschke tied the game on a play that saw Nats goalie Taylor Edwards slide into the cage with the puck.
In the final minute, with Edwards pulled for an extra attacker, Mater and Bobby King scored into the empty net.
Aaron Dartch had two goals and an assist for the losers.