73’s Take Opening Hand From Kings
Despite being the third seed in the Stobbs Division, the Essex 73’s continue to look very familiar in the playoffs, dealing the Dresden Jr Kings a 5-2 loss at home to open the second round of the post-season.
The perennial league champion 73’s struck early in each period to maintain a lead throughout game one. Dawson Winchester opened the scoring with an unassisted goal just two-and-a-half minutes into regulation. Michael Ruttinger followed suit for Essex, striking on the power play ten minutes later and allowing the 73’s to go to the locker room with a 2-0 lead.
Essex captain Tyler Boughner only needed seven seconds to find twine in the second period. Despite losing a face-off, Boughner took advantage of a seemingly surprised Kings five-some, and walked in free and clear from the blue-line, beating Dresden netminder Brendan Johnston in breakaway fashion, for a commanding 3-0 lead.
Dresden battled back quickly as Noah Fox answered with a picture perfect deflection of a Lucas Spence point-shot at 2:44 of the second, finally beating Essex goalie Jax D’Hondt. D’Hondt had been a brick wall and staved off a bevy of opportunities on an earlier first period Kings 5-on-3 power play.
Any hope for a Dresden third-period comeback was dismissed when Ryan Wismer scored his first of the playoffs four minutes and change into the third. The Kings would find a power play tally from Nolan Ross, with traffic in front of D’Hondt, but that 4-2 deficit was as close as Dresden would come. Luke Gecse put the game on ice with an empty netter, his sixth goal of the post-season, giving Essex a 1-0 series lead.
The first Dresden defeat of the post-season, the Kings had only lost two home games in regulation through the entire regular season.
The Kings had their chances, going 1 for 7 on the power play, stymied by D’Hondt who made 23 saves on 25 shots.
Dresden hits the road immediately, heading to Essex for game two on Tuesday night.