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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

73’s defeat Flyers, face off against the Flags

by Garrett Fodor

Holding a commanding 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven series with Petrolia, the Essex 73’s hoped to punch its ticket into the next round of playoff action last week.

  On March 15, the 73’s faced the Petrolia Flyers in a rare Tuesday evening road game, for game four of the series. Like the game prior, the 73’s started Jakob Knowles against his former team.

The 73’s were the first to break the deadlock, scoring, with five-minutes remaining in first period. Karson Beuglet fired a rocket by Tyler Richardson for the lone goal of the period.

  In the middle frame, the 73’s continued to test Richardson, who came up with several key saves to keep his team in it. With six-minutes to play in the second period, Essex doubled its lead as Matt Smith found the twine. Closing the period, the 73’s climbed to a 2-0 lead, while pacing the Flyers in shots, 33-11.

  Coming out for the third period, the Flyers were quick to draw back into the game, cutting the lead to a lone goal just two-minutes in. But it would be the lone goal they’d score, as the 73’s held off the comeback and added a goal midway through, securing a 3-1 win and completing the series sweep.

  Advancing into the semi-finals, Essex was set to face the third seeded Mooretown Flags. Meanwhile, the first place Lakeshore Canadiens faced the fifth seeded, Wheatley Sharks.

  On March 20, the 73’s played Game 1 of the series, hosting the Flags during a Sunday matinee game. Like the previous game, the 73’s players were quick to pace the Flags early, getting a flurry of chances. It was the home side scoring the lone goal in the period as Carter Dembinski opened the scoring with six-minutes to play in the first. 

  Coming out of the intermission, the Flags players were quick to rise to the occasion, drawing themselves even nearly midway through. But closing out the period, the 73’s restored their lead. Entering into the intermission, the 73’s held the narrow 2-1 lead, while outshooting the Flags 23-14.

  The Flags tied the game, early in the third period, with Nolan Farr scoring his second of the contest for the Flags. The tied score was short lived, however. The 73’s made the Flags pay, adding a pair of power-play goals, along with an insurance marker. With the three unanswered goals, Essex took the win with a final score of 5-2.

  Twenty-four hours later, the 73’s hit the road, travelling to Mooretown for Game 2 of the best-of-seven series. Like the game prior, the 73’s opened the scoring midway through the first period, as Jack Feurth fired a rocket on net. Closing out the frame, Mooretown was quick to generate energy and chances, and would be rewarded twice as they crashed the net and carried a 2-1 lead into the intermission. 

  The Flags players continued to use their home ice and home crowd to their advantage, increasing their lead just over six-minutes into the action. The 73’s responded just 20-seconds later, as Carson Noble blasted a shot through the sea of bodies. Closing out the frame, the teams exchanged goals and offensive zone chances, but Mooretown held a 6-3 lead. 

  In the final period, Mooretown notched its seventh goal of the game, nearly six-minutes into the action, ending Knowles’ night for Essex. Rookie Adrian McBride held down the fort, not surrendering another goal, but despite his performance, the 73’s offense sputtered out as the club fell 7-3 in Game 2, while being outshot 46-34.

  Through two games of action, there has been no love lost between the two teams. Both teams have not been shy to throw their body weight around and throw some punishing hits. Both teams have had their fair share of penalties called as well, combining for 114 penalty minutes, with each team registering some special team goals.

  Looking ahead, March 24, Mooretown visits Essex for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop, before Essex returns to Mooretown on March 26 for another 7:30 p.m. game start. 

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