Nationals jump into first

ERIC BENDER -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

The London Nationals used the last-place Leamington Flyers to vault into first place with a 4-2 win before 303 fans at Western Fair last night.

The Nats (17-9-1) will stay in first at least until the weekend when the other teams jockeying atop the Western Junior B Hockey League return to action.

The Nationals don't play until Sunday night when the Strathroy Rockets, three points behind London, come to Western Fair. But Strathroy plays Saturday night against the Chatham Maroons, who are two points behind London.

It was just a few weeks ago the Nationals were in seventh place.

"We have had good goaltending like we had tonight with Ben Weir and Chris Wall," said Nationals head coach Doug Berk. "We have a very strong defence. We don't have anybody filling the net, but we have balance on forward."

London's scoring was spread around last night and Weir, the backup to Wall, was steady, stopping 21 of 23 shots.

"This team plays only as hard as it has to," said Berk. "We don't have a killer instinct. There were times when we could have put the game away and we didn't. It's going to come back and bite us sometime."

Nats captain Ben Dobie said the team "can't take any nights off. When we take a period off, it hurts us."

Jamie MacQueen, with his 13th goal of the season to take the Nationals lead, opened the scoring at 9:33 of the second period.

Ryan Federman tied it for Leamington 4 1/2 minutes later, before Mike Ward put the Nats back on top on a lazy shot that just made it over the line before Mitch Rybicki could get a glove on it.

Leamington's Nicholas Mariani tied it unassisted at 4:45 of the third, but Matt Davis made it 3-2 Nats 16 seconds later and Thomas Cardiff gave London a two-goal bulge a little more than two minutes later.


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