By Dan McCaffery
Josh Kestner's five-point outburst led the Sarnia Legionnaires to a come-from-behind victory over the Chatham Maroons Wednesday.
With 400 fans looking on at the Brock Street Barn, Kestner scored two goals and set up three others as the Legion crew edged the visitors 8-7.
With the win Sarnia finished the pre-season with a 2-1-1 record.
The Legionnaires were trailing 3-0 late in the first period when Jay Clarke popped in a goal from close range to get them back in the game. Assists went to Cody Slaght and Thomas Moxley.
The comeback continued early in the middle frame when Kestner broke into the clear, deked the goalie out of position and scored a shorthanded marker. Nathan Mater sprang Kestner loose with a nice pass. Defenceman Tyler Prong also assisted on the play.
Not long after that Mater went in on a breakaway and squared matters at 3-3. This time, it was Kestner who got the helper.
Trevor Richardson restored Chatham's lead but the Legionnaires kept pressing and were rewarded with three consecutive goals.
Kestner got the first, scoring on the powerplay after being set up by Mater and rearguard P.J. Vandervaart. Not long after that, Kestner stole the puck from a Maroon defender and went racing down the ice on a two-on-one break with teammate Brandon Layman. Layman finished the play off with a beautiful goal after taking a nifty pass from Kestner.
Cody Slaght made it 6-4 for Sarnia with a shot from the slot. Helpers were credited to Prong and Cody Trowell.
In the third period, the scoring barrage continued, with the Maroons scoring two quick goals to tie the game. Undaunted, the Sarnians got two of their own to pull ahead 8-6.
Prong notched the first (with assists going to Davis Boyer and Jordan Fogarty) while Mater got the second with help from Kestner and Vandervaart. The Maroons got one back in the final minute of play but it was too little, too late.
Afterward, Sarnia head coach Dan Rose said, "Both teams are going to score a lot of goals this year, both are talented. There were some good passing plays.”
He had special praise for Kestner, saying "he's got skill and speed. He's going to be a pleasure to watch.”
Trevor Richardson and Connor Doran had two goals each for the Maroons, with single markers going to Michael Verboom, Sebastian Kanally and Connor Annett.
Goalie Brandon Palocz got the win for the Legionnaires, who trailed 3-0 in the first period and 4-3 in the second before rallying for the victory. With the triumph the Sarnians ended their preseason with a 2-1-1 record.
The Legionnaires open their regular schedule Thursday Sept. 5 when they host the Lambton Shores Predators.
Game time at the Sarnia Arena is slated for 7:10 p.m.