Penalties Prove Too Much for Blades
SUBMITTED BY THE BLENHEIM BLADES
ESSEX – One thing you do not want to do much of when playing the defending champion Essex ’73s is take a bunch of penalties.
Blenheim Blades found that out Tuesday night in Essex when penalties turned a 2-1 second period Blenheim lead into a 6-3 defeat before 643 fans at the Essex arena.
The loss ended the Blades winning streak at six in a row dating back to Dec. 21.
The win moves the ’73s into a first place in the Provincial Junior Hockey League’s Stobbs Division by two points over the Lakeshore Canadiens, while the Blades remain in fourth, four points behind the third-place Amherstburg Admirals.
Both the Blades and Admirals have four games remaining with next action for Blenheim being Friday when they travel to Dresden for their last regular season road game when they play the Kings at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday the Blades will host the Mooretown Flags at 7 p.m., then play the Kings at home at 7 (not 7:15 as previously announced) Thursday, Jan. 26 before wrapping up the season when the Petrolia Flyers come to town Sunday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m.
Tuesday night Riley Meyerink gave Essex a 1-0 lead when he scored at 7:52 of the first period, but the Blades captain Brayden Hopkins got that one back at 12:49 with an assist going to Kier Cumming.
The goal was the 12th of the season for Hopkins.
Early in the second period Blades defenceman Brayden Allore was sent to the penalty box for hooking, but this time the penalty did not cost the club as Matt Clark scored a shorthanded goal at 5:10 to put Blenheim up 2-1.
For Clark it was his 12th goal, with an assist going to Dustin Maines.
Max Viselli evened the score at 2-2 when he beat Blades goalie Eric Stewardson at 10:11.
Then the Essex powerplay, which had scored 41 goals going into the game compared to 29 for Blenheim, went to work when Hopkins took a five-minute head checking major that was accompanied by a game misconduct at 12:37.
The major means a two-game suspension for Hopkins.
During the five-minute powerplay the ’73s got their first of three extra strength goals when Anthony Cristofaro scored at 15-20.
The game stayed at 3-2 Essex through the rest of the middle 20 minutes, but a double minor to Clark for high sticking at 7:05 of the third frame gave the ’73s the edge they needed as Matthew Rosati scored at 8:00 and Adam Gaiarin at 8:10 to put the game away.
Nate Broek’s sixth goal of the year with 8:25 to play cut the Essex lead to 5-3, but that was as close as the Blades could get.
Michael Vieria’s empty net tally with 40 seconds to play rounded out the scoring.
Essex outshot the Blades 33-21 and took just 16 minutes in penalties compared to Blenheim’s 31.
BLADES BITS: The Blades continue to play with several players out of the lineup…Missing Tuesday were Patrick Wright, lower body injury, George Wood, second of a two-game suspension, and Kain Hopkins and Owen Bateman, school…The Blades Alumni will be hosting a “Steak Night” Monday, Jan. 30 at the Blenheim Royal Canadian Legion Branch 185…Cocktails at 6 p.m., supper at 6:30…Tickets are $15 and are available in the lobby at home games or by calling Dave at 519-676-2022, Ryan at 519-359-6514 or Lee at 519-676-5204.