73’s Improving early

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by Garrett Fodor

After closing out their opening week with a rare at home loss to Lakeshore, the Essex 73’s are showing their resilience early in the season.

Essex had a quick turnover as it was once again back on home ice on Tuesday to host the last place team, the Wheatley Omstead Sharks.

For Wheatley, it was about to be a rude awakening as the 73’s came out of the dressing room ready to set the tone. And set the tone they did. William Stadder opened the scoring four minutes into the game as he beat Daniel Tonietto with the man advantage. From there, Essex built off that as they generated more chances and were vicious at times on the physical side of the game. To close out the frame, Essex added two more goals to carry a 3-0 lead into the intermission.

In the middle frame, however, is where the game got ugly for the Sharks. Essex scored four goals in four minutes to increase its lead and essentially end any attempt of a comeback. Wheatley’s Delaney Macdonald missed a penalty in the frame and Essex managed to add another goal in the dying minutes of the second period to lead 8-0 after 40 minutes.

In the last period, Essex played with a mentality to keep possession of the puck and play smart. The home team added two more goals to increase the final score to 10-0. Jax Dhondt made 20 saves for the shutout.

Essex went back on the road for the second time of the season on Saturday night to face Mooretown. The Flags were undefeated and were going to be a great test for Essex. And, a great test it was as they scored three goals on six shots in the opening frame to end Tyler Ryan’s night in favor of DHondt.

The 73’s responded quickly with Luke Gecse netting his fourth short-handed goal of the season, just 72 seconds into the period. After that tally, Essex looked energized and used the energy to mount a comeback. They had goals from Anthony Cristofaro and Sylvano Valente to tie the game heading into the third.

After a scoreless third period, Essex took control in the seven minute 3-on-3 period and Michael Veira completed a wrap-around that snuck through Nolan Hakr’s pads. Essex prevailed 4-3 to complete the comeback.

To close out the week, Essex traveled to Wheatley on October 2. Its offense struggled to get going early and the scoreboard read 1-1 heading all the way into overtime.

Both teams exchanged chances throughout, but it was Cole Butler who scored to give Wheatley its first win of the season. Butler battled for a loose puck and was an overall standout blocking numerous shots for Shark’s goalie Dylan Zelko. Essex will look to respond with two games in week three.