Legionnaires rally past Maroons on Dittmer's overtime goal

Bryar Dittmer couldn’t have asked for a happier homecoming.

Chatham Maroons captain Dallas Maurovic carries the puck against the Sarnia Legionnaires in overtime at Chatham Memorial Arena in Chatham, Ont., on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. Mark Malone/Chatham Daily News/Postmedia Network

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Bryar Dittmer couldn’t have asked for a happier homecoming.

The Sarnia Legionnaires defenceman from Chatham scored in overtime to beat the Maroons 5-4 on Sunday before 520 fans at Chatham Memorial Arena.

“It felt great, really good,” Dittmer said. “Goose (Nolan DeGurse) gave me a perfect pass, so it was nice. It was a good win, too.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit trying to get wins, but we’ve been playing good, so it was good to get this one at home.”

The Legionnaires ended their three-game losing streak while also snapping the Maroons’ season-high three-game winning streak.

“We should just keep our heads up after that one,” Maroons defenceman Riley Pawluk said. “It’s not that big of a deal. We still walk away with a point. Just need to look at the positives instead of the negatives of that game.”

Dittmer’s shot from the left wing 1:40 into overtime beat Maroons goalie Kevin Linker to complete the Legionnaires’ comeback from a 4-2 deficit.

It was not only Dittmer’s first goal of the season but also the first overtime goal of his life.

“The boys worked hard and we battled hard,” said the 18-year-old. “It was a team effort.”

Dittmer has seven points in his first season with the Legionnaires. He’s healthy now but has missed 15 games.

“I got sick and I was out for a long time,” he said. “It’s been a battle trying to get back, but I’ve had the support of my coaches and my team. They made it really easy for me.”

Down 1-0 after the first period, the Maroons scored three straight power-play goals by Lucas Fancy, Aleksa Babic and Dallas Maurovic in a span of 1:32 midway through the second for a 3-1 lead.

“We just have to maintain that,” Maroons defenceman Alan Yu said. “We can’t give up. Got to keep the foot on the gas.”

The Maroons led 4-2 after DeGurse and Adrian Stubberfield traded goals.

Ex-Maroon Josh Barraclough began the Legionnaires’ comeback by scoring on a power play with 1:32 left in the second period.

DeGurse’s second goal 3:26 into the third period tied the score.

“We came out strong,” Pawluk said. “I think we need to finish games like that. We should beat those guys. We had a strong first period and just kind of let that go.”

Linker made 37 saves. Winning goalie Nolan DeKoning of Wallaceburg made 42.

Joseph Ferrera scored the Legionnaires’ first goal.

The Maroons (19-16-1-8) are in fifth place in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Western Conference with 47 points, three fewer than the fourth-place LaSalle Vipers. Both teams have six games left.

The Legionnaires (16-25-1-3) tied the Komoka Kings for seventh place.

“The boys are feeling good,” Dittmer said. “We’ve been playing good. The bounces haven’t been going our way, so getting this is perfect because now we’re going to get a lot of momentum going into Thursday.”

The Maroons and Legionnaires will wrap up the home-and-home series at 7:10 p.m. Thursday at Sarnia Arena.

Yu looks forward to getting another shot at the Legionnaires.

“I think it’s huge to be able to bounce back, get another chance to win,” he said.

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