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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

73’s sink Admirals in four to advance to finals

Photo by Laurie Beaten: William Stadder battles Ben Larder infront of the Admirals’ net during Game Three of the best-of-seven matchup.

by Garrett Fodor

  After sweeping the Petrolia Flyers, the Essex 73’s advanced to take on the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals in the second round of the Stobbs Division playoffs.

  For Essex, taking this series would be no easy task as it would be without Captain William Stadder, who had received a two-game suspension for being the third man in, during Essex’s Game Four win over Petrolia.

  Without its number one centre and second-leading scorer, Essex’s offense was slowed in Game One. While Michael Ruttinger opened the scoring for Essex, it would only hold for seven minutes, before Amherstburg beat former Admiral, Connor Meyerink. Ruttinger scored again in the second period for his second of the night, which looked like it would be the game winner, until Cory Burns scored for Amherstburg, with just over two minutes to play, forcing overtime.

  In the first overtime, the Amherstburg athletes had thought they had scored before the goal was called back on a spear. Burns would also have a chance to win, but Meyerink saved a penalty shot. In the second overtime frame, it was Luke Gecse who scored on a breakaway, to give Essex a 3-2 win in Game One.

  Game Two was held on Thursday night in Amherstburg. Stadder’s line-mates of Michael Vieira and Josh Pop-Ferguson opened the scoring eight-minutes into the game. Like Game One, it would stand for just five-minutes before Meyerink was beaten by Admirals player Andrew Clark, who tucked in a rebound.

  Closing out the frame, however, Meyerink received some help from his brother, Riley, who scored with six-minutes to play in the period. From there on, Essex continued to drive and control the offense. Quinn Fazekas scored twice in the period and ended Ben Larder’s night. Amherstburg scored closing out the second period, and, in the third, Gecse added two more goals to cushion Essex’s lead and give them a 6-2 win.

  Up 2-0 in the series, Essex hosted Game 3 on Saturday. Unlike the first two games, Amherstburg opened the scoring, just two-minutes in, beating Meyerink. With Stadder back in the lineup, however, the players in the top line were quick to show their chemistry and they responded with a goal, at the hands of Michael Vieira, with four minutes to play in the first period.

  After a scoreless second period, that line opened the scoring in the third period, this time it was Pope-Ferguson just five minutes in. Despite the Admirals’ push in the final minutes of play, they were unable to beat Meyerink again and Pope-Ferguson’s goal would be the winner, lifting Essex over Amherstburg, 2-1.

  Twenty-four hours later, the series was on the line in Amherstburg. Using the home ice to its advantage, the Admirals opened the game strongly and quickly, dominating much of the opening period. The Admirals scored two goals in a 9-minute span to open the game with their biggest lead of the series. Closing out the period, however, Essex cut the lead in half with Vieira diving on a rebound and slipping it behind Larder.

  In period two, Stadder scored his first goal of the series, with the man-advantage, to tie the game at two, where it remained until 7:24 of the third period. Tyler Beneteau went end-to-end and unloaded a cannon by Larder. Essex went on to add two goals in the final minutes, from Stadder and Veira, as Essex prevailed, 5-2.

  Essex now awaits the winner of the Lakeshore and Dresden series for the Stobbs Division finals.


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