73’s build on consistency, earn three straight wins

Photo by Laurie Beaten: Conor Dembinski attempts to tip a shot over the glove of Blades’ goalie, Chris Dewulf, during Essex’s 5-1 win over Blenheim last Tuesday.

by Garrett Fodor

After winning, with a final score of 6-2, on Thanksgiving Sunday in Amherstburg, the Essex 73’s had Monday off before returning to the ice last Tuesday night to host the Blenheim Blades for the first time this season.

  Essex began the period in a ringing fashion, scoring three goals to lead 3-0 after 20-minutes and capturing a 12 to 10 shots-on-net edge.

  To open the second period, centreman, Jacob Cruickshank, continued to pester the Blades’ defence and goalie Chris Dewulf as he snuck in and slipped a shot through Dewulf’s five-hole to complete his first career hat-trick. Seth Henderson scored with 59-seconds left in the period, but Essex was quick to get the momentum back. Just 27 seconds later, Preston Corp was Johnny-on-the-spot and banged home a rebound for his first goal as a 73, to give Essex a 5-1 lead heading into the intermission. 

  The teams skated to a scoreless third period, with Essex ahead, 5-1. The Blades did out shoot the 73’s 15-5 in the third period and 34-30 in the game. 

  The story of the night was Essex’s special teams, which were a perfect seven-for-seven on the penalty kill, including a double minor and a five-on-three.

  Closing out the week, the 73’s had hit the road on Friday to travel to Dresden to face the Jr. Kings.

  With their moms in attendance, as part of their mom’s trip, the 73’s gave their visiting fans something to cheer about early. Just 20 seconds in, Jack Sanko entered the zone and snapped a shot low and over Kings’ goalie, Connor Ogg, to give Essex a 1-0 lead. Closing out the period, both teams capitalized on the man-advantage as Cruickshank continued his torrid of scoring for Essex, while former 73 Dawson Winchester and Eric Carter scored for the Kings. The scoreboard read 2-2 after 20-minutes of play, with the shots being tied at 14.

  The teams continued to exchange chances and showcased high octane offense and speed. But both teams were unable to beat goalies Jax D’Hondt or Ogg. The score remained 2-2 after 40-minutes and shots were also even at 27 apiece. 

  In the third period, Essex broke the deadlock as rookie forward Brayden Zuidema capitalized on a turnover and roofed a shot over Ogg to restore Essex’ lead at 3-2. And despite Dresden’s push in the final minutes to tie the game and several power play opportunities, D’Hondt remained unbeaten again. Essex chalked up its third straight win, with a 3-2 victory over Dresden. 

  Next up, the 73’s have a home and home series against the Wallaceburg Thunderhawks on the schedule.