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73’s comfortable atop standings

by Garrett Fodor

As the calendar flips to begin the new year, the PJHL season winds down to the final games of the regular season.

  The games around Christmas were kind to Essex, as it earned a 3-1-0, with each win being a shutout. The 73’s last home game of 2018 was on December 18 against the Wheatley Omstead Sharks. Essex made sure to give its faithful crowd something to cheer about as the team got under the skin of the Sharks’ players who took several costly penalties. Essex went 2-for-6 with the man-advantage on the night, while peppering the Sharks in shots 44-17 on the way to a 5-0 win. Leading the way was Josh Pope-Ferguson, who had four points.

  On December 23, the 73’s traveled to Amherstburg as it faced the Admirals. Similar to its game against Wheatley, Essex used its physicality to get under the skin of its opponent and used its Stobbs leading power-play to put the game away.

  Essex went 3-for-6 with the man advantage, improving their success rate to nearly 27 percent, eight percent higher than the next best, Blenheim. Leading the way for Essex was Riley Meyerink and Adam Gairarin, who each had one goal and two assists as Essex sank the Admirals, 5-0. The win extended Essex’s winning streak to a season high of nine games.

  Closing out 2018, Essex traveled to face the Blenheim Blades on December 30. Unlike its last two games, however, Essex had to play from behind. The Blades’ offense was sharp, scoring three goals in the opening 11 minutes of the first period. Essex scored one goal in the final three minutes of the first to make the score 3-1 after 20 minutes.

  In the second frame, William Stadder continued his torrid scoring pace to pull his team to within one heading into the third period. The 73’s had their hopes of a comeback dashed as Jax D’hondt was beaten three minutes into the third. Stadder scored his second of the night with five minutes remaining, but the 73’s were unable to get any offense going, putting up four shots in the third period and 27 in the game as they fell 4-3, snapping their win streak.

  Closing out its holiday schedule, Essex traveled to Wallaceburg to take on the last place and winless Lakers. After a scoreless first period, Essex exploded with four goals on 13 shots in the second period. William Stadder opened the game’s scoring, extending his point-streak to 27 games (every game he has played in this season). Riley Meyerink scored in the third period.

  Essex prevailed 5-0 and outshot the Lakers, 38-13. The win extends Meyerink’s shutout streak to two games.

  Essex sits first in the Stobbs Divison with a three-point lead and a game in hand on second place Dresden. There are six games remaining in the regular season. Amherstburg is third with 47 points and sits eight points behind Essex.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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