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Legionnaires hold on to victory over Nationals
andrew brethauer January 5th, 2012

Sarnia, ON - After a five goal first period, the Sarnia Legionnaires were able to hang on to their lead as the London Nationals chipped away at it the rest of the game, but ultimately fell short 7-5, as the Legionnaires pick up their first victory of the new years.

"We were really good at times. We played well the first period obviously and then the second period we got into a little bit of penalty trouble there," said Head Coach Dan Rose. "Momentum shifted, they fought through it and give them credit, they lost last night and I don't think they wanted to lose tonight."

Sarnia chased London goalie Jacob Riley from the net for a quick breather after the Legionnaires scored four goals in the first half of the first period.

Derek D'Andrea started the scoring, getting a pass from Nathan Mater who created a turnover at the blue line with a body check, leaving D'Andrea with a 2-on-1 in which he kept and fired a shot to the top of the net, opening the scoring 1:29 into the game.

The momentum continued for the period as London had challenges of clearing the puck, and Riley had rebound control issues. Tyler Cicchini picked up a rebound on the second shot to come off Riley's pad to make it a 2-0 lead.

London would cut the lead in half with a wrist shot from the blue line by Jake Monaghan, but the Legionnaires would restore the two goal lead on the power play, as Evan Dixon would pick up a rebound goal for the 3-1 lead.

The Legionnaires continued to ride the momentum as D'Andrea would get his second of the game from another rebound goal, as Mater would again spot D'Andrea for the goal. Brent Sauve would pick up the Legionnaires fifth goal of the period and second on the power play, pulling a give and go with Shawn Waldie to make it 5-1 after the first period.

In the second, London would notch another goal on the power play, as Aaron Dartch scored on a 5 on 3, but the Nationals stilled trailed by three goals heading into the third.

With twenty minutes to go, the Legionnaires seemingly had it locked up, but the wheels fell of quickly as Paul Hokpins scored a pair of goals 37 seconds a part, one short handed to bring the Nationals to within one.

The game would go silent on the goal sheet for the majority of the period as the Nationals looked to tie. Sarnia would again take a two goal lead after Nathan Mater found Brent Sauve in front for a tap in goal, picking up his third assist on the night.

London would pull the goalie and with Sarnia on a penalty, would again cut the lead back down to one with only nine seconds left to play, as Hopkins would pick up his hat-trick in the third period. But Sauve would also pick up his hat-trick, beating out an icing call and putting the puck into the open net for his third of the night, sealing the Legionnaires victory 7-5.

"This league is all about momentum, three goal leads mean nothing in this league, they never have," said Rose. "That is two games in a row where we have had a lead and let up a little bit."

With the victory Sarnia sits on top of the Western Conference with 48 points, four points ahead of London and two games in hand as well. And although it is where Rose likes to be, he isn't counting out any of the teams below, including Leamington, St. Thomas and LaSalle.

"There isn't any teams I would count out of it. They are all decent hockey teams," said Rose. "It just showed right there, London is a good hockey team that didn't quit. We are only two-thirds of the way through the schedule. It does feel good to be sitting where we are sitting right now."

Kyle Washer made 25 saves for his 15th victory of the season.

Sarnia heads to Lambton Shores on Friday for a game against the struggling Predators.



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