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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

The 73’s are controlling the Flyers

Photo by Laurie Beaten: Bryce Ryan pursues the puck on the forecheck during Essex’s 7 to 2 win in Game One last Tuesday.

by Garrett Fodor

With the month of February underway, so to the first round of the Stobbs Division playoffs, where Essex is hosting the Petrolia Flyers.

The first seeded Essex 73’s drew the eighth seeded Petrolia Flyers, which finished with a 10-25-0-5 record. In their five regular season meetings, Essex finished with a 4-0-0-1 record and outscored Petrolia 23 to 10. Essex hosted game one of the series on Tuesday, February 5. 

From puck drop, Essex was quick to set the tone and welcome its visitors. Just 12 seconds in, Josh Pope-Ferguson beat Flyers’ goalie, Chaska Thiel, after using his speed and shiftiness to open-up space. Four-minutes later, 16-year-old Bryce Ryan blazed by the Flyers’ defense and made no mistake in beating Thiel, high. Petrolia would score in the final minutes of the period, to cut the lead in half. After 20 minutes of play, Essex led two-to-one and outshot the Flyers, 12 to 5.

In period two, Essex continued to bombard Thiel with shots, registering 20 in the period. The home-team would be rewarded. At the eight-minute marker, Jack Sanko would make his return to the lineup felt as he, and line-mates Curtis Jackson and Jacob Cruickshank, overwhelmed the Flyer defenders and Thiel to restore the two-goal lead. Closing out the period, the teams would exchange goals and skate into the intermission with a score of 4 to 2 for Essex.

The final frame was much of the same, with Essex continuing to frustrate and stymie the Flyers. William Stadder would increase Essex’s lead to five, and, closing out the frame, Ryan and Sanko would each add their second of the night to push Essex over the top, 7 to 2. Final shots on goal for the game were 39 to 19 for Essex.

On Thursday, the series shifted to Petrolia for Game 2 of the series. In the first period, the teams continued to show their frustration for each other as they frequented the penalty box throughout the period and the game. Thirteen-minutes into the period, after going 0-for-6 in Game one, Petrolia’s power-play went to work and would be rewarded as Curtis Helps lifted a rebound over 73’s goalie, Connor Meyerink. Two minutes later, Michael Ruttinger would tie the game at one, blasting a shot by Thiel, also with the man-advantage.

In the second period, Essex continued to set the tone and frustrate Petrolia with its speed and hard-hitting forechecking. Matt Zelko would float a wrist shot over Thiel’s shoulder to give Essex its first lead of the game. And, closing out the period, Luke Gecse buried home a rebound and capitalized on Thiel being out of position. This gave Essex a 3-1 lead heading into the third.

  In the final frame, Essex would score two more goals with the man-advantage. Essex prevailed, 5-1. Shots in the period were 41-27, in favour of Essex. Petrolia would have 60 minutes in penalties on the night and Essex would go 3-for-12 on the man-advantage on the night.

Pope-Ferguson leads the way after two games. He has earned five points so far in this best-of-seven series.


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