What looked to be a laugher for the Sarnia Legionnaires, Thursday night, almost devolved into a situation that was no laughing matter at all.
The Legionnaires scored five times in the first period against the Lambton Shores Predators, then twice more in each of the second and third periods to cruise to a 9-0 win against their county rivals in GOJHL action at Sarnia Arena.
But, as frequently happens in one-sided contests, the game grew more and more chippy as it wore on. And, by the late stages of the third period, there were players being consistently fouled and scrums developing at every stoppage in play.
With a little over two minutes to play, Sarnia coach Dan Rose called a timeout to let his players know that "this one is over" and they should be cautious not to engage in any behaviour that might result in a needless suspension.
But the timeout call seemed to rub Lambton Shores coach Don Dickson the wrong way and he spent the remainder of the game yelling at the Sarnia bench from across the ice.
"That was not meant to embarrass him," said a visibly irritated Dan Rose, following the game, adding he just wanted to try to guide his team through the final minutes of the game without things getting completely out of hand.
"A lot of stupid stuff went on at the end of the game -- some things that should be reviewed (by the league), in my opinion," continued Rose. "Kids can get hurt out there."
It turned into "an ugly game," said Rose. "Too many of (the Predators) players were not concentrating on playing hockey, they were concentrating on being stupid. ... And that starts at their bench."
The good news is that the victory brought the sixth-place Legionnaires to within one point of Strathroy and three points of fourth-place London and Sarnia has two games in hand over both teams, as they battle to try to gain home ice advantage in round one of the Western Conference playoffs.
Sarnia's nine goals came from eight different players with Nathan Mater, PJ Vandervaart, Josh Kestner, Hunter Tyczynski and Ryan Vendramin scoring in the first period, Curtis Crombeen and Thomas Moxley (shorthanded) scoring in the second and Cody Trowell and Crombeen (with his second of the game -- also shorthanded) adding third period goals.
Kester and Davis Boyer were the only Sarnia players to record more than one assist (they had two each) in the Legionnaires' very balanced attack.
Lady Luck with crossbar save gave Johnson shut out
Hunter Johnson was required to make only 15 saves for the shutout while Sarnia hammered Predators goalies Brett Gilmour and Alex Tokarewicz with 47 shots.
Perhaps the most bizarre stat of the evening was that Sarnia went 0-for-13 on the power play, although many of those chances lasted far less than the typical two minutes, because of staggered penalties to each team.
The Legionnaires will face a much tougher test in their next contest, Sunday in Chatham.
Their next home game will be a rematch against the Predators, next Thursday, at Sarnia Arena.