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73’s heating up race for 3rd place


Photo by Laurie Beaten: Bryce Ryan evades the Canadiens’ defensemen during Lakeshore’s 2-1 win on Friday.

by Garrett Fodor 

As the regular season winds down, the PJHL standings are heating up as teams are jostling for playoff position. 

The Essex 73’s is currently sitting in fourth place in the Stobbs Division standings. And, with four games during the week of January 14 to 20, the 73’s had a chance to catchup and be one, of three teams, battling for third place.

  Essex began its week on January 14 as it hosted the Blenheim Blades. In the early stages of the game, Essex was quick to use the home ice and fans to gain momentum early to control the possession of the puck and generate several scoring chances.

  While Essex outshot Blenheim 29-19 after 40 minutes of hockey, the scoreboard read 1-0. Bryan Ryan capitalized on an opportunity to scored his first goal of the season for the 73’s. Coming out of the intermission, the 73’s continued to pace the Blades by holding the visitors to just six shots.

  Essex had 16 shots on goal in the second frame, three of which would lead to more tallies on the scoreboard as Conor Dembinski, Josh Pope-Ferguson, and Quinn Fazekas (who added the empty netter) capitalized.

  Essex sealed a 4-0 win to bounce back and end a four-game losing streak. Goalie Jax D’hondt turned aside 25 shots to earn the shutout.

  Twenty-four hours later, the 73’s traveled to Wheatley to play the fifth place Sharks. The Sharks had Essex’s number throughout the season as it had won the four previous meetings this season. And, if the season ended today, it would be a playoff matchup.

  The Sharks were quick to open the scoring just three-minutes in as Dawson Iles beat 73’s goalie, Connor Meyerink, and, just over eight-minutes later, the lead was doubled to 2-0 after one.

  While Quinn Fazekas cut the lead in half during the second period, the Sharks’ defence and goaltender, Kyle Metson, held strong. Metson faced 37 shots in the game, turning aside 36 of them. The Sharks added two goals during the third period to prevail, 4-1.

  On January 17, the 73’s traveled to Lakeshore to play their rival, the Canadiens, which sits atop the PJHL Stobbs Division standings. Just under 90 seconds in, the 73’s opened the scoring as Liam Hall beat goalie Matt Tovell to give Essex the lead. Essex would hold that slim one-goal lead going into the final frame, while being outshot 17-13.

  Coming out into the third period, Canadiens’ Captain, Ameen Fadel, beat 73’s goalie, Jax D’hondt, just over five minutes in.

Closing out the game, with three minutes left to play, Eric LaRue made the 73’s pay, scoring with the man-advantage. LaRue’s tally would serve as the gaming-winning goal, as the Canadiens toppled Essex, 2-1. Shots were 23-21, in favour of Lakeshore.

  Closing out the week, Essex was in Amherstburg on January 20 to face the third-place Admirals. With nearly 600 fans, for both teams, cheering, the Admirals was the first to celebrate, as Cole Welsh scored with 15 seconds left in the first period.

  The score remained 1-0, with the shots reading 18-18 after 40 minutes of play.

  In the third period, the 73’s offense was rewarded. Five-minutes into the third, Riley Meyerink blasted a shot by Aidan Pitre to tie the game. While the offenses continued to exchange chances, it was 73’s Preston Corp, who played the hero role. Corp scored two goals in the final three-minutes to help lift Essex over the Admirals 3-1, while the Admirals held a slight edge in shots 30-29.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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