By Dan McCaffery
The Sarnia Legionnaires dropped a 3-1 decision to the Lambton Shores Predators Thursday.
With more than 1,300 fans looking on at the Brock Street Barn, the Legion crew played a flat, uninspiring game that could end up costing it first place in the Western Ontario Hockey Conference standings.
Cale Duberry scored twice in the first period and Corey Pawley connected in the middle frame to give the last place Predators a commanding three-goal lead.
Jesse Drydak got Sarnia's only goal at the 13:13 mark of the final stanza.
Defenceman Jeff Paulley made the score possible, sending Drydak and Jason Teschke away on a two-on-one break that was beautifully executed by the two forwards.
Drydak carried the puck over the Preds blueline, then fed a pass to Teschke, who sent it right back to him.
Drydak finished the play off by firing the disc into a wide open cage.
Goalie Brandon Campbell, who had committed himself to meet a Teschke shot that never materialized, had no chance on the play.
For Drydak, it was his 30th goal of the campaign.
But that was the only puck that would get by Campbell all night.
In all, the Predators netman made 31 saves.
Kyle Washer, who blocked 15 shots, suffered the loss.
"We were flat, we did not show up to compete,” Legionnaire coach Dan Rose said afterward. “We were reaching for pucks and standing around. It's hard to play a game with one hand on your stick and smiling because you're in first place.”
The Legionnaires, he continued, have been in a funk for a couple of weeks now.
If they don't get out of it soon, they will find themselves going south in the standings.
With 10 games to go, Sarnia has a five-point lead on second place London. St. Thomas and Leamington are only six points back.
To make matters worse, the Legionnaires have a tough schedule ahead of them, with only four of their remaining 10 games at home.
Two of their upcoming road contests are in Leamington, while one is in London and another is in St. Thomas.
Players missing for Sarnia last night included Brent Sauve and Spencer Bronzi (both injured) and Captain Tyler Cicchini, who had work commitments.
Sarnia had a dreadful time on the powerplay, going 0-for-nine with the man advantage.
Lambton Shores was one-for-six with the extra man.