Essex County teams battle for first place in Stobbs Division

Filed under: Sports |

by Garrett Fodor

Heading into the New Year, teams in the Stobbs Division of the Provincial Junior Hockey League are still tinkering with their roster and jostling for top position.

So far, the on-ice play this season has been more neck-and-neck than it has been in previous years as five points areseparating the first and fifth place teams. Three of those five teams are from Essex County: Essex, Lakeshore, and Amherstburg.

On January 2, the 73’s began their 2018 schedule as they hosted the Petrolia Flyers. This was the 73’s first game in two weeks.

Despite falling behind just six minutes in, the 73’s were quick to show no rust had settled beneath their blades over the break as Quinn Fazekas scored two minutes later to tie the game.

Essex, however, skated into the intermission trailing 2-1.

From the second period onward, it was all Essex. Michael Vieira tied the game just 21 seconds after puck drop, and the 73’s scoreed three more goals in the period, including a pair from Cody Leeming. Petrolia scored its second of the night with two minutes remaining on the clock.

In the third period, Essex continued to cruise and put its opponents out of the game, scoring two more insurance goals to prevail 7-3.

Essex outshot Petrolia 31 to 26. The storyline for the night was the success of Essex’s special teams as they went two out of four with the man-advantage and added a short-handed goal.

Closing out the week, Essex travelled to face the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals on Sunday. The Admirals have stymied Essex all year, winning the previous three outings this season. That was about to change.

From puck drop, Essex came out flying with another gear that fans have not seen this year. Looking like the Essex of old, the 73’s did not give the Admirals any room on the ice and were quick to set the tone and tempo early with the body. In doing so, Essex was able to get under the skin of its opponent, who began drawing penalties.

Essex opened the game with a pair of power-play tallies coming from Riley Meyerink and Anthony Cristofaro. After 20 minutes of play, Essex outshot Amherstburg 17-3.

The 73’s continued to simply roll and stymie the Admirals as they controlled the puck and did not give Amherstburg an opportunity to get set up in the offensive zone. Essex scored three goals in the period with chances for several more.

The teams had a scoreless third period as Essex held on to shutout the Admirals 5-0. Tyler Ryan turned away 19 shots for the shutout.

The win puts Essex into first place in the standings with seven games remaining in the regular season.