73’s upset Kings to face rivals

Filed under: Sports |

by Garrett Fodor

Entering this past week, the number three seeded Essex 73’s held a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series over the Dresden Jr. Kings. The home-team was looking to put the series away.

The 73’s first chance to end Dresden’s season was on the road on February 26, which would be no easy task. The team would play much of the game down two forwards. Riley Meyerink left the game after two shifts with an injury, and to make matters worse, the team lost 16-year old pivot, Wyatt O’Neil, at the end of the first period for three stick infractions.

Going down two forwards, Essex essentially rolled three lines. It was able to outshoot the Kings after two periods, 18-10, but it was Dresden who skated into the intermission with the lead. Essex trailed 1-0, despite Jax Dhondt saving a penalty shot. The team was unable to find any offensive momentum in the third period, getting outshot 11-5, which ended any chance of comeback. Essex would drop game five, 1-0.

Twenty-four hours later, the series shifted back to Essex for game six. Like most of the games for Essex this playoff season, it started quick and with a bang. Just 73 seconds into the game, Adam Gaiarin blasted a point-shot past a screened Brendan Johnston for the lone goal of the period.

For Dresden, the game did not get any better. Essex started the second period with the man advantage and made the Kings pay. The home team scored two goals in 28 seconds with the extended power-play, including Gaiarin notching his second goal of the game. To start the third, Dresden would score its first of the game, beating Dhondt cleanly. But, it was over at this point. Essex would respond one minute later, and Dawson Winchester iced the game with an empty netter to carry Essex to a 5-1 final.

The win set Essex up for a rematch of last year’s Stobbs Division finals, against the Lakeshore Canadiens.

Essex closed out the week with game one in Lakeshore on Sunday night. With 1200 fans in attendance, it was going to be a thriller. From the opening draw, Essex controlled the puck and had Lakeshore on its heels, forcing the Canadiens to take back-to-back early penalties.

Lakeshore, however, killed both of the penalties off and gained the momentum. 12:40 into the first period, Lakeshore broke the deadlock. Matt Fraser flew a snapshot by a screened Dhondt. But, to close out the period, Essex would tie the game with Micahel Vieira beating Eric Morneau.

The ice was tilted in favour of the home-side for the second period and so to was the scoreboard. Lakeshore held the puck for much of the second period and had Essex chasing throughout the frame. The Canadiens outshot Essex 23-5 in the frame. Included in that was a pair of goals for the Canadiens, which increase the score to 3-1, with 20 minutes remaining.

To start the third, Lakeshore would add a pair of goals, which forced 73’s Head Coach Cam Crowder to shake it up and put Tyler Ryan into the net for the first time this post-season. The move was not enough to spark the team as Essex fell 5-2.