(ESSEX, ON) – The Dorchester Dolphins were back in Essex Tuesday night, for the first time in two years, as Southern Ontario Junior C champions. Already, the hometown 73s are looking to send the Dolphins to the golf course, much like in 2014.
Powered by a 4-point performance by captain Matthew Hebert and another solid start by goaltender Matt Badour, the 73s nailed down the first win of their Schmalz Cup title defense with a 5-2 victory.
The two teams spent most of the first period feeling each other out, but with 3:51 left Hebert broke the deadlock, knocking in a rebound off a Tyler Scott blast. Before the frame could close, Dorchester’s Patrick Freel tipped the puck past Badour to even the game at 1.
The Dolphins led the 73s in the shot department, 13-8.
Despite pelting Dolphins’ goalie Riley Brown with 17 shots in the second period, the 73s were only able to walk away with one scoring marker. Griffin McCarty gave Essex the lead midway through the period, on the power play, when he redirected a laser from Brett Vorshuk.
The home team’s onslaught continued in the third, hammering away at Brown 22 times before the period was through. Hebert, the victim of a Dorchester player’s errant stick late in the middle frame, cashed in on the power play only 48 seconds into play.
With Adam Gaiarin and Scott rifling the puck on net, Hebert was able to find some mesh with a rebound shot. Minutes later, Vorshuk found the net as well, extending the lead to 3.
Back on the power play, Scott bent the twine, taking advantage of a scramble in front of the Dolphins’ cage. Dorchester would get one back with less than 9 minutes to go, as Freel found himself all alone on the edge of the crease, and he backhanded the puck past the Essex net minder.
Badour had 27 saves to clinch the victory for the 73s, while Brown made 42 of 47 stops in defeat.
The 73s are the five-time defending Great Lakes Junior C champions as well as the victors of the 2015 OHA Clarence Schmalz Cup, provincial champions of the 8-league loop. To get here, Essex swept the Alvinston Flyers and Mooretown Flags before going the distance with the Amherstburg Admirals.
The Southern Ontario Junior C winners, the Dolphins, avenged their 2015 title loss to the Exeter Hawks, this time winning in a decisive seventh game. Prior to the league finals, Dorchester swept the Lambeth Lancers and Mount Brydges Bulldogs.
Joining the 73’s and Dolphins in the OHA Junior C quarter-final round are six other teams.
The 2015 finalists, Port Hope Panthers, opened their quarter-final series on Tuesday night by downing the Port Perry Mojacks 7-6 in overtime.
Starting their series on Thursday evening will be the Alliston Hornets and Kincardine Bulldogs as well as the Ayr Centennials and Grimsby Peach Kings.
Should Essex prevail against Dorchester, there are many familiar foes left on the docket with whom to renew old rivalries.
Game 2 of this series will be in Dorchester Friday night, while the teams return to Essex Sunday for Game 3, at 7:00pm.