Lambeth Lancers ready for next big test

The Lambeth Lancers celebrate their Yeck Division Championship following a 5-0 win over Dorchester on March 14th. submitted photo / SGL247MEDIA

It’s been quite the season for the Lambeth Lancers so far, and they aren’t done yet.

Through three rounds of playoff series they now face their next foe in the long journey that is the Schmaltz Cup, the provincial championship awarded to the last team standing in the 63-team Provincial Junior Hockey League.

After beating the Mount Brydges Bulldogs and North Middlesex Stars, the Lancers disposed of the Dorchester Dolphins in five games to win the Yeck Division championship last week.

Up next for the Lancers, the Lakeshore Canadiens.

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The two teams face off Tuesday night in Lakeshore for Game 1 of the Western Conference final, which is also the Schmaltz Cup quarterfinals.

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Tony Mandarelli is in his third season as general manager of the Lancers and is expecting a tight series.

“They’re a good hockey team, they beat Essex in their division final and they’ve been a top team for years,” said Mandarelli, who admits there’s some unfamiliarity between the two teams given they play in separate divisions.

“It’ll be good to get the series started and both teams will get a chance to feel each other out a bit.”

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Carson Esipu led the team in scoring this season with 32 goals and 65 points. He was one of four Lancers’ to score 20 goals this season with Ray Robbins, Brock Trichilo and Deon Truong all reaching the milestone.

“You have to have the depth to be successful, and I think we’re a team that’s built to win. When our top guys are on the ice you always expect something to happen.”

Esipu has a dozen goals so far in 14 playoff games.

Brock MacDonald has been the go-to guy for the Lancers in net. In 21 appearances this season he didn’t lose a single game, leading the division with seven shut outs.

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After hoping to start the season in a higher level of junior hockey, Mandarelli says MacDonald has been playing with something to prove.

“He just brings a totally different game when he comes to play. He is so smooth, moves well technically, and he’s happy to be here which is a big thing. He started right from the beginning and has kept his focus all season.”

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MacDonald has been practising with the GOJHL London Nationals, even dressing for a couple games as a backup.

The series shifts back to Lambeth for Game 2 on Friday night, for an 8:30 p.m. puck drop at Lambeth Arena. Lambeth will also host Game 4 on March 28, and if necessary Game 6 on April 1.

Lambeth is one of eight teams remaining in the PJHL playoffs. The Mount Forest Patriots and Stayner Siskins face off in the North Conference final. The Port Hope Panthers and Lakefield Chiefs are playing in the East Conference final, and the South Conference final has the Tavistock Braves up against the Glanbrook Rangers.

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