73’s winning streak halted

Filed under: Headline,Sports |

by Garrett Fodor

Entering this past week, the Essex 73’s had the longest winning streak in the Stobbs Division, but it was halted at the hands of the Mooretown Flags last week.

On Tuesday night, the 73’s faced off against the Flags, a team that has given the home-team fits this year and last. Tuesday night was no different.

Despite Essex rested with a week off prior to this game, the players appeared sluggish out of the gate. As a result, the local athletes spent much of the first period, and the game, behind. Five minutes into the game, Tyler Ryan was beaten by Flags forward, Nolan Riley.

After a scoreless second period, the teams came out of their dressing rooms riled up for the third period. The players were quick to renew their physicality, not shy to use their body, and press on the forecheck. But, the Essex players were unable to use the added energy to their advantage and made frequent trips to the penalty box. Mooretown scored with the man advantage and added an empty-netter as Essex fell 3-0 at home. Shots in the game were 36-19 in favour of Essex.

Twenty-four hours after its 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Flags, Essex responded, in 73’s fashion, with a statement 7-3 win over the Wallaceburg Lakers.

Similar to the game on Tuesday, the Essex players played with a chip on their shoulders. They displayed a hard-nosed and physical style of hockey, but like the night before, it got them into trouble. The team had to kill numerous penalties in the opening frame to give the Lakers chances to score.

Despite the penalties, Essex skated into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead. William Stadder and Justin Bondy scored for the 73’s. Jax Dhondt was beaten in the final minute of the frame when the Essex defense turned the puck over in front of the crease.

Like period one, Essex continued to blitz the Wallaceburg goalie, whether it be with pucks or bodies. Just under three minutes into the second period, Essex scored two goals in 47 seconds to increase its lead to 4-1.

Following the two goals, Wallaceburg was forced to use its timeout. It did pay dividends as the Lakers appeared calm and beat Dhondt just 6 minutes later. As the teams skated into the intermission, the scoreboard read 4-2 in favour of Essex. Shots were in favour of the visitors at 22-16.

In the final frame, Wyatt O’Neil continued his torrid play as of late as he scored a natural hat-trick. The first goal came with the man advantage. The power-play goal was just the third in the last 32 chances Essex has had in its last 6 games. Wallaceburg found the net behind Dhondt for the third time in the period, but it was too little too late. Essex prevailed 7-3.

“It was a bounce back game,” Dallas Anderson said, who finished with a goal. “The bounces are not always going to go our way, so we have to find a way to generate opportunities, score, and win.”