By Dan McCaffery
The Sarnia Legionnaires exploded for five third period goals Thursday on their way to a 9-5 win over the St. Thomas Stars.
Jay Clarke led the way with three goals and an assist.
The outburst was especially thrilling for the little forward because his parents had made the trip from Georgia to watch him play.
"It's definitely nice to get a hat-trick when your parents are here, he said afterward. I'm just working hard and when you work hard you're going to get the bounces.
The modest Clarke, who now has 11 goals on the season, got his first by whipping the puck into a wide open net. His second came on a back-door play, while his third was a blast from the faceoff circle. I just closed my eyes and shot it, he said of his third tally of the contest.
Head coach Dan Rose said the line of Clarke, Mater and Kestner were on fire tonight.
In fact, Mater got Sarnia back into the game in the first period after the Legionnaires got off to a slow start. With St. Thomas ahead 2-0, Kestner passed the puck from the corner right into the Stars crease, where Mater was waiting to tip it in.
After the visitors went up 3-1, defenceman Curtis Crombeen came off the point to rifle in a power-play drive that brought Sarnia close once again.
But the Stars kept coming, grabbing a 4-2 edge early in the second stanza.
After that, it was almost all Sarnia, with rookie Jordan Fogarty getting two goals and singles going to Kestner and Cody Trowell.
Braden Palocz picked up his sixth win of the season in the Legion cage, blocking 25 shots. The Legionnaires had 48 shots on net, including 23 in the third period alone.
With the victory, which came before more than 1,300 fans at the Brock Street Barn, the Legion crew improved its record to 13-11, good enough for a tie for fourth place in the Western Jr. 'B' standings.
The Legionnaires once again played with a depleted lineup. No less than five regulars are still on the shelf with injuries.
Josh Kestner now has a team-leading 22 goals on the campaign.
In addition to his third goal of the year, Crombeen had two helpers. Ryan Vendramin, Riley Babkirk, Josh Kestner and Riley Roberts also had two assists each. Single helpers went to Clarke, Thomas Moxley, Cody Trowell, Mater and Tyler Prong.