Essex 73’s positioned in first place

Photo by Laurie Beaten: Jack Sanko tips a shot by Chris Dewulf for a goal in Sunday’s 4-1 win

by Garrett Fodor

This past week was testing for the 73’s as they played three games, including one where they faced off against the struggling Dresden Jr. Kings.

Last Tuesday night, the 73’s welcomed the Kings in for what would be a battle of first place, with the winner getting sole possession of the sought-for-position. The Kings opened the scoring three minutes in, but were unable to gain momentum. Riley Meyerink beat 16-year-old goaltender, Brett Brochu, with the man-advantage to tie it at one. From then on, the ice was shifted in Essex’s favour.

With eight chances total in the game, Essex capitalized on Dresden’s lack of discipline and added two more powerplay markers from Michael Vieira in the second period. The Kings would not beat Jax D’hondt again as Essex prevailed, 3-1.

Looking to extend its winning streak to six, Essex traveled to Mooretown for the first time this season. The game began quickly for Essex as their top line of Michael Vieira, William Stadder, and Josh Pope-Ferguson scored twice in the first, but Flags’ forward Nolan Farr put his team on the board in the opening frame, with the score at 2-1.

In the second, both goalies, Connor Meyerink and Jake Wilkins, stood on their heads facing a combined 28 shots in the frame. But the top line continued to roll as it added two more goals in the period, from Pope-Ferguson. Jacob Cruickshank also found the net for a short-handed tally for his second of the year. Mooretown added two goals with the man-advantage in the second as the score was 5-3 heading into the third. 

In the final 20 minutes, Essex shutdown the Mooretown offense, holding it to five shots. Unable to muster many chances, Mooretown would fall 5-3 over Essex.

Closing out the week, Essex was on the road 24 hours later as they faced the Blenheim Blades. After a scoreless first period, Essex opened the scoring 1:21 into the second, as Vieira netted his sixth goal in four games. Closing out the frame with two minutes left, Jack Sanko tipped a shot by a screened Chris Dewulf to double the lead.  

In the third period, Adam Gaiarin blasted a rocket above Dewulf’s shoulder to make it 3-0. Former 73, David Cooke, would score five minutes later, but the Blades were unable to beat Meyerink again. Vieira would add his second of the night in the final minutes, as Essex prevailed, 4-1, and increased its winning streak to seven. 

The three wins now increases Essex’s lead on Dresden to five points, with Amherstburg 10 points behind Essex, but having four games at hand.