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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

73’s fall to Canadiens in second straight Stobbs Final

by Garrett Fodor

Photo by Laurie Beaten: Michael Ruttinger battles in front of the Lakeshore goal in

After falling behind 3 to 0 in the Stobbs Division finals, the Essex 73’s played with the hope of staying alive to advance to the Schmalz Cup playoffs.

Lakeshore was the scene for Game 4 of the best-of-seven series last Tuesday. Unlike the previous three games, Essex was the team to open the scoring. Just over eight minutes into the first period, 73’s Captain, William Stadder, snapped a shot by goaltender Erik Morneau. The score remained 1-0 headed into the intermission, with Essex outshooting Lakeshore 10 to 8.

In the second period, however, Lakeshore tied things up. Former Flyer Jake Nimmo beat his ex-teammate Connor Meyerink, with the man-advantage, with seven-minutes remaining in the second period. At times in the period, Essex was lucky to not be trailing, with five penalties in the period and Meyerink bailing them out at times. As a result, shots were 10 to 4 for Lakeshore.

Essex, however, started on the right foot in the third period. Quinn Fazekas got sprung on a breakaway and made no mistake to bury the wrister over Morneau’s blocker. Two minutes later, Essex doubled its lead when Stadder’s line-mate Josh Pope-Ferguson deflected a shot off a faceoff through Morneau’s five-hole to make it 3-1. And, closing out the game, Stadder’s line added another goal. This time, Michael Vieira used a deflection that went five-hole to make it 4-1. Shots were tied, 24 to 24, as Essex avoided the sweep.

Essex hosted Lakeshore for Game 5 of the series, which was hosted on Friday. From the puck-drop, Lakeshore was quick to get the crowd of 1,100 people on its side. Blake Bain opened the scoring six-minutes into the game when he beat Meyerink. Seven-minutes later, Lakeshore’s speed and hard forecheck forced another turnover and this time Matt Fraser beat Meyerink to make it 2-0, after one period, for Lakeshore.

Essex opened the second period with speed to burn. Looking to set the tone early, Pope-Ferguson beat Morneau, to cut the lead in half. But, the one goal deficit would last just two-minutes. Brandon Ireland beat Meyerink to restore the two-goal lead for the Canadiens heading into the third. Shots after two were 21 to 13 in favour of Essex.

In the third period, Lakeshore essentially took the life out of the 73’s and the Essex crowd when Jarrett Tazzman was gifted a rebound and tucked it by Meyerink to make it 4-1. In the closing minutes of the stanza, Pope-Ferguson added his second goal of the game to make it 4-2. The 73’s, however, were unable to mount a comeback as they fell to Lakeshore, 4-2, and were eliminated 4-1 in the series.

The loss marks the end of Michael Vieira, William Stadder, Matt Zelko, and Adam Gaiarin’s junior hockey careers. These four were the last members of the Schmalz Cup winning team of 2015.

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