Lynx finding their style as playoffs near

West Nipissing grabs a few wins, but can’t conquer the league’s elite

West Nipissing Lynx players celebrate Liam Thor’s go-ahead in the second period of their 4-2 win over the Ville-Marie Pirates on Feb. 19. The Lynx have lost four in a row since that game, but are still in position to finish seventh in the North Division.

The West Nipissing Lynx are looking better with the playoffs on the horizon, but they still haven’t been able to hang with the top teams in the North Division.

The Lynx were a confident bunch heading into a Sunday afternoon tilt with the Temiskaming Titans on Feb. 20. The team had just won two consecutive games for the first time since mid-October and was buzzing after rallying from a two-goal deficit to beat the Ville-Marie Pirates 4-2.

“We have a style of play that’s been successful, so we have to stick with that style – whether we win, lose or tie – we stick to that style,” said head coach Jeff Mancini following the team’s win over the Pirates. “Guys are getting comfortable with it, they know they’re generating offense through that system and our powerplay is clicking like crazy. If we can stay disciplined and get a few more power plays, good things will happen.”

Special teams were key in the win over Ville-Marie, as the Lynx made the Pirates pay for some undisciplined penalties, scoring three of their four goals on the man advantage.

“At the end of the day we wanted it more,” said forward Liam Thor. “We stuck to our game plan and we didn’t let them get under our skin. It’s getting toward the end of the season so we’re going to let them screw around, take the PIMs and do the stupid stuff and we’re just going to play as a team and keep it up.”

Thor was also on a hot streak that weekend, potting a hat trick in the team’s 5-2 win over New Tecumseth on Feb. 17 before scoring the game winner against Ville-Marie. However, he snapped his “lucky stick” during the Pirates game and hasn’t found the back of the net since, as the Lynx offense was stymied by the North’s best squads. 

First, the powerhouse Titans beat the Lynx 7-1. Though West Nipissing was able to play a pretty clean game, taking just three minor penalties all afternoon, they couldn’t stop Temiskaming’s highly skilled attack, which managed to score a pair of shorthanded goals in the second period to put the game away. The Titans have lost just two games all season, clinching the top spot in the division. 

West Nipissing lost by an identical 7-1 score a few days later to the third place Bradford Bulls. The Lynx were missing several regulars, including Austin Rioux, Nathaniel Lalonde, Hunter Chiblow, Easton Stanley and Eric Mondoux, and with so many bodies absent, they allowed the Bulls to heave 62 shots on net. 

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