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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

73’s close out regular season on top

by Garrett Fodor

Entering this week, the Essex 73’s was looking to heat up and earn two more points ahead of the playoff season.

Coming off of two recent losses and a tie, Essex hosted the Blenheim Blades for the 40th game of the year last Tuesday. And, with first place clinched, it was a safe game to get its depth fine tuned. 

Prior to puck-drop, Essex honoured its four graduating players: Adam Gaiarin, Matt Zelko, Michael Vieira, and Captain William Stadder. The four were the last members involved with the 2015 Schmalz Cup win. 

In the first period, Blenheim was quick to set the tone as it forechecked the 73’s hard and hemmed them in their zone at times. The Blades also forced several turnovers, and, had it not been for Jax D’hondt, the score could have been drastically different. Skating into the intermission, it was 1-0 Essex, as Josh Pope- Ferguson had beaten Blades’ goalie, Chris Dewulf. Shots were 11-10 for Blenheim.

After a scoreless second period, Pope-Ferguson continued his scoring pace since returning from suspension. He too would beat Dewulf, just 39 seconds into the third stanza. Owen Meyerink would give the 73’s a 3-0 lead with 10 minutes remaining.

  In the final minute of play, with their goalie pulled, Blenheim scored to end D’hondt’s shutout. Luke Gecse would score his first of the season in the final seconds of the game. Essex prevailed, 4-1. Shots in the game were 35-28, in favour of Essex.

With the win, Essex finished in first place in the Stobbs Division, setting up a first round matchup with the Petrolia Flyers. Game one took place in Essex on February 5. The hometown team will travel to Petrolia on February 7. On Tuesday, February 12, Essex will host the Blades.

  For full schedule details, visit

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