73’s on edge versus Lakeshore rival

Filed under: Sports |

by Garrett Fodor

photo by Laurie Beaten

The Essex 73’s continue its Stobbs Division finals trend of facing the Lakeshore Canadians. Unlike last year, there will not be a sweep. However, and unlike recent memories, the 73’s trail in the series.

The Essex 73’s began play this week down 1-0 in the series after a 5-2 loss in Lakeshore in game one. On Tuesday, the series shifted to Essex for the first of three games on the weekly schedule.

Like the opening game, the teams were evenly-matched in the early goings. Each team brought energy and a strong forecheck, not willing to give each other any skating room, which was a theme remaining in the later games. The teams played a scoreless opening frame with Lakeshore ahead 9-7 in shots.

With that edge, Lakeshore was quick to open the scoring in the second period to beat Jax Dhondt. To close out the frame, however, Dawson Winchester rifled a shot by goalie Eric Morneau to tie the game headed into the second intermission. Lakeshore scored early into the third to regain its lead, but those faithful to Essex breathed a collective sigh when Winchester potted his second of the contest with under two minutes remaining to push the teams into overtime.

In overtime, Lakeshore capitalized on a missed shot to create and odd-man-rush and beat Dhondt for the 3-2 win, doubling the lead in the series.

Back to Lakeshore on Friday, Essex was prepared to do whatever necessary to earn a win, including tinkering with lines for the first time this playoff series. Tyler Ryan earned his first start between the pipes this post-season and Jack Sanko found himself on the top line, skating next to Michael Vieira and William Stadder. That line would pay dividends early for Essex.

Vieira scored two goals in 46 seconds to give Essex its first lead of the series. Lakeshore drew within one goal in the closing minutes of the third period, but Essex’s defense and Ryan made several key saves to stop the comeback short. Vieira scored an empty-netter to give Essex a 3-1 win and put the home team back in the series.

To close out the week, Essex played host for a Sunday matinee game. In the first period, Essex was quick to welcome its visitors. The 73’s came out with energy unseen in the series and were all-over the Canadiens. As a result, Essex scored four goals in the opening frame, including a pair from Vieira.

Lakeshore was resilient and remained calm in the situation. Coming out of the intermission on a mission, the Canadiens scored two goals, 50 seconds apart, to silence the home supporters. Closing out the frame, Wyatt O’Neil put the 73’s fans back on their feet as he tipped in the fifth goal by Morneau.

In the third period, Lakeshore proved to be too much to handle. The visitors scored three unanswered goals to push the game to overtime.

Early in the overtime stanza, like the previous affair, Lakeshore capitalized on an Essex mistake to beat Dhondt high.
Essex fell 6-5, to trail 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.