ESSEX, ON – With the series knotted at two, the Essex 73s shut down the Amherstburg Admirals’ offense and brought themselves within a game of winning their fifth consecutive Great Lakes Jr C championship. Essex, the defending Clarence Schmalz Cup holder, won the game Tuesday night in Essex 3-1 to bring the series to 3 games to 2 in their favour.
The 73s led the game 1-0 after the first period, as Luke Gecse scored with 6:23 remaining in the frame.
Minutes into the second period, the home team struck again. Matthew Hebert hammered the puck past Amherstburg’s Connor Meyerink to make it 2-0. With a little over five minutes to go in the period, Luke Gangnon brought the Admirals back to within one on the power play.
The two teams were stuck in a stalemate for most of the third period. In the final ten minutes of the game, both teams started to show their frustration. Before long, four men were in the penalty box and the 73s found themselves with a 5-on-3 advantage.
Essex made quick work of it as William Stadder popped in the insurance marker with 4:09 to play.
Matt Badour made 21 saves in the victory, while Meyerink stopped 29 of 32 for the Admirals.
The 73’s, defending league and OHA champions, made the final by sweeping both the Alvinston Flyers and Mooretown Flags. Amherstburg rushed past the Wheatley Omstead Sharks and defeated the Blenheim Blades in six games.
Last year, Essex powered their way through five rounds of playoffs before finding a true challenge in the Schmalz Cup final against the Empire B Jr C League’s Port Hope Panthers. The 73’s won the final in seven games, leading 3-0 and allowing the Panthers to fight back and force game 7.
The 73s took the deciding game in Port Hope 1-0 to clinch their seventh Schmalz Cup in team history.
Game 6 of the series will take place on Friday in Amherstburg at 7:30. If necessary, the series will return back to Essex on Sunday at 2:30.