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Legionnaires Move On to Western Ontario Hockey Conference Semi Finals
MARCH 7, 2015

By Dan McCaffery

file photos

The Sarnia Legionnaires have made it to the Western Ontario Hockey Conference semi-finals.

Coach Dan Rose's club reached the second round of the post season Friday with a 5-4 win over the St. Thomas Stars.

"The boys battled hard from start to finish," Rose said. “They wanted to end it tonight because anything can happen in a Game Seven. You could hit a lot of posts or get beat by a hot goalie."

The victory, which came on the road, allowed the Sarnians to eliminate the Elgin County squad four games to two.


After the game, Rose singled out defencemen Tyler Prong and Jake O'Donnell for praise.

He also predicted the team will tighten up its play as it moves deeper into the playoffs. Some of the St. Thomas goals, he noted, were the resulted of mental lapses by his charges.

Captain Nathan Mater said the Legionnaires do not care who they face. He added the players are determined to keep winning because they haven't proven anything yet.

But in fact Mater and his teammates have shown they can handle adversity.

St. Thomas, it should be pointed out, led the series 2-1 in games as recently as five days ago.

The Legionnaires responded by winning three in a row, including two in St. Thomas.

Quick Stars start

On Friday, the Stars struck first, with Andrew Chambers scoring in the opening frame.

But before the period ended, Jay Clarke netted his first goal of the playoffs to tie the contest. Clarke drove hard to the net and redirected a nice pass from Hunter Tycynski to send the teams into the intermission deadlocked at 1-1.

The Legionnaires took command in the middle frame, with Ryan Vendramin and Riley Babkirk registering unassisted tallies.

Vendramin's goal, his second of the playoffs, was a beauty. The big forward stole the puck in the St. Thomas zone and beat goalie Braden Polasek with a shot that caught the top corner on the glove side.

After Babkirk made it 3-1, Polasek was pulled in favour of netminder Nik Damphier.

St. Thomas responded with a shorthanded strike from Brett Van Dusen.

But Cameron Clarke fired a rocket launcher from the point during a Sarnia power play to restore the two-goal lead.

Still, the Stars wouldn't give up and Matt McJannet got them close before the second period came to an end.

Powerplay winner

Davis Boyer netted the winner during a third period power play, poking home a loose puck in the crease.

Josh Huston rounded out the scoring for St. Thomas.

Andrew Masters made 24 saves to pick up the win. Masters, who won only two games in four months with St. Marys, now has 11 victories in less than two months with the Legionnaires.

Sarnia scored twice on seven power play opportunities, St. Thomas went one for six.

The Legionnaires will face either the Chatham Maroons or the LaSalle Vipers in the next round. Chatham and London are battling it out for the remaining spot.  Currently, the Nats lead the Maroons 3-2 in games. Sarnia will know by Sunday night at the latest who its next opponent will be.

The Vipers are already guaranteed a spot in the Final Four, along with Sarnia and Leamington.







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