By Dan McCaffery
A veteran defenceman and a rookie rearguard helped the Sarnia Legionnaires defeat the Lambton Shores Predators Friday night.
Anthony Donati, a 20-year-old who has four years of junior hockey experience under his belt, scored his eighth goal of the season.
He also added three assists to lead the Legion crew to a 7-2 triumph.
Matt Cimetta, meanwhile, got the first goal of his Jr. 'B' hockey career and also collected a helper.
Cimetta's goal, which was the result of a wicked shot from the faceoff circle, was wildly celebrated by his teammates.
In fact, three of them mobbed the 16-year-old while the fourth retrieved the puck from the Lambton net as a souvenir.
With the win, Sarnia moved six points ahead of second place London in the battle for first place in the Western Ontario Hockey Conference.
The Legionnaires have a game in hand on the Nats.
“We were a little shorthanded,” Sarnia coach Dan Rose said afterward. “But we played a good first period.”
Sarnia dressed one skater under the limit and lost Louie Rowe to a minor injury and Nathan Mater to a misconduct before the game ended.
But the visitors got off on the right foot, with Jesse Drydak scoring early in the first period with a shot from 15 feet out that went in high on goalie Brandon Campbell's stick side.
Cimetta and Evan Dixon got assists on the powerplay marker.
Donati made it 2-0 before the period was out, firing in a powerplay goal from the point.
Shawn Waldie and Nathan Mater set the play up.
Lambton Shores dominated play in the second stanza, aided by a rash of Sarnia penalties.
Nick Erb and Kody Ryan scored to bring the home team back on even terms heading into the final frame.
FIVE GOAL EXPLOSION
But Sarnia erupted for five goals in the last 20 minutes of action to wrap up the contest.
Rose said his players had lost their momentum in the second period, at least partly because they were forced to kill so many penalties.
But the team came out for the third period determined to win, he said.
Derek D'Andrea notched the winner, backhanding in his 11th of the season from close range after scooping up a rebound from a Donati point shot.
Waldie also got an assist on the play.
Mater made it 4-2 with a beautiful goal. The artful forward stickhandled through the Preds defence and sent a hard wrist shot under the crossbar.
Donati drew an assist on what was Mater's 11th of the campaign.
Jesse Drydak got his second of the night and his team-leading 26th of the season to make it 6-2.
His blast from the slot, which gave Sarnia its fifth powerplay goal, was set up by Tyler Cicchini and Donati.
Cicchini rounded out the scoring with his seventh of the year.
The lone assist went to rookie Caden Fleming.
Sean Parker got the win in net, making 30 saves. He now has a 9-4-1 record.
The Legionnaires are now 24-9-2. They have 50 points, compared to 44 for London.
Sarnia had 31 shots on Campbell.