By Dan McCaffery
The Sarnia Legionnaires scored three lightning quick goals late in the third period Thursday to edge the Strathroy Rockets 5-4.
Sarnia, which led 2-0 after the second period, fell behind 4-2 before the final stanza was 10 minutes old.
But with less than four minutes left on the clock, the Legionnaires staged a a furious comeback.
The contest, played before almost 1,800 fans, was the final regular season home game for the Legionnaires.
The big crowd brought attendance for the year up to a whopping 31,656, tops in the entire 26-team Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Jesse Drydak got the winner with just over a minute left in regulation time, sending a shot through the five hole after being set up by Shawn Waldie.
Sarnia Coach Dan Rose said, “We played very well for two periods. We played as good defensively as we’ve played all year long. Then we fell asleep for 10 minutes in the third period. It was a good lesson learned.”
He added, “The guys buckled down on the bench and didn’t quit. They showed some character. I’m proud of them.”
Defenceman Anthony Donati gave Sarnia a 2-0 lead with a pair of second period wrist shots.
After the Rockets had taken the lead, Donati struck again, wiring home yet another wrister.
Rookie Daniel Nikandrov tied the game at 4-4, tipping in a goalmouth pass that was a foot off the ice.
Justin Thomas had two goals for Strathroy, while singles went to Greg Milner and Jordan McNaughton.
Kyle Washer got the win in net, blocking 32 shots.
The first place Legionnaires close out the regular season Sunday with a game in Leamington.
Sarnia opens the playoffs next Thursday when it hosts the Lambton Shores Predators.