By Dan McCaffery
Rookie Riley Roberts scored two goals Friday to pace the Sarnia Legionnaires to a 4-2 win over the St. Marys Lincolns in Jr. 'B' hockey action.
"That was a good, bounce-back effort from last night's game (an overtime loss to Lambton Shores on Thursday),” Legionnaires head coach Dan Rose said. He added his club was seldom in trouble except when it was two men short in the third period.
Roberts said the victory, coming 24 hours after the loss to the Preds, was important. “That game with Lambton Shores was a heartbreaker. We needed this win tonight.”
Sarnia out-shot the Stone Town team 44-25 and would have won in a cakewalk if not for the heroics of Lincs goalie Andrew Masters.
Braden Palocz was not tested as often in the Legionnaires net but he was solid when he had to be, making 23 saves. His best stop came on a breakaway in the third period.
Cody Trowell opened the scoring in the middle frame, collecting his 18th of the season. Ryan Vendramin set the play up when he picked up a loose puck behind the St. Marys net and passed it right onto Trowell's stick. Davis Boyer also drew an assist on the play.
The Legionnaires stormed the Lincolns cage for several minutes after that, with Thomas Moxley and Jay Clarke both hitting posts.
Braydon Blight tied the game late in the second period with a drive from the point.
But Roberts restored Sarnia's lead early in the third when he banged in a puck sitting at the top of the crease. Nathan Mater and Clarke got helpers on the goal, which came on the power-play.
However, the Lincs would not go away and Blight got his second of the game with about seven minutes left. The tally came with two Sarnians in the sin bin.
Roberts put the Legionnaires back out in front for good with a rising shot from the high slot at the 17:33 mark. Mater got the lone assist. For Roberts, who missed several weeks earlier this year with an injury, it was his eighth goal of the season.
In the final minute of play, with Masters on the bench for a sixth attacker, Boyer flipped a long shot at the open St. Marys net. He missed but Vendramin rushed in, grabbed the puck off the backboards and tucked it into the yawning cage. It was his 21st of the season.
The Legionnaires are now 23-16-2 and sit alone in fifth place in the nine-team Western Ontario Hockey Conference.
They finished January with a record of 6-1-1, picking up 13 of a possible 16 points.
Sarnia is in LaSalle Wednesday before returning home Thursday to face Strathroy.
Game time at the Brock Street Barn is set for 7:10 p.m.