73’s in unfamiliar territory after losing three to Lakeshore in finals

by Garrett Fodor

After losing to Lakeshore in last season’s Stobbs Division finals, the Essex 73’s players are looking to redeem themselves as they again face off against Lakeshore in this season’s finals.

After having a week off, the teams were set to play the first three of the best of seven series, beginning in Essex on March 5.

  The early going of the first game set the tone for the series, both teams exchanged chances and battled in the neutral zone. Both teams were looking for its opponent to make a mistake before they could capitalize.

  The game remained scoreless until Eric LaRue beat 73’s goalminder, Jax D’hondt, with seven-minutes remaining to play. Essex continued to fight, but was unable to beat Erik Morneau. The Canadiens took Game One, 1-0. Shots were tied 24-24.

  On Friday, Lakeshore was the scene for Game Two of the series. Like Tuesday night, both teams played a very defensive game, not looking to slip-up. After a scoreless first period, LaRue once again opened the scoring. This time, he beat 73’s goalminder, Connor Meyerink with the man-advantage. The score would remain 1-0 until the third period, when Michael Vieira scored Essex’s first goal of the series, four-minutes into the third period.

  The 1-0 score, however, stood just 20 seconds, before Canadiens’ Nathan Skulley beat Meyerink. Five minutes later, Jake Nimmo put the puck by Meyerink, to secure Lakeshore’s lead. The Canadiens prevailed, 3-1. Shots in the game were 35-25 for Essex.

Closing out the weekend, Essex hosted Lakeshore on Sunday night for game three. Similar to the first two games, Lakeshore opened the scoring. Jake Nimmo continued his hot streak, as he scored two goals, 50 seconds apart, eight minutes into the game. The score stood at 2-0 until the second period, when Luke Gecse capitalized on a rebound to cut the lead in half entering the third. 

  In the third period, the Essex faithful had life for the first time. Thirty-six seconds in, Veira scored his second of the series, putting a bullet by Morneau. Two minutes later, however, Dylan Bradley silenced the crowd. The puck trickled through Jax D’hondt and the defensemen were unable to secure the rebound. And, despite Essex’s last-minute pushes, the local team was unable to beat Morneau again. Lakeshore won 3-2, to go up 3-0 in the best-of-seven series. 

Game four took place on Tuesday, March 12 in Essex, while Game Five, if Essex wins, will be played on Friday, March 15 in Essex.