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Essex Wins Game Seven Battle to Claim Seventh Schmalz Cup
By: Kevin E. Neels
The Essex 73's had four chances to capture their seventh Schmalz Cup heading into game four with a 3-0 series lead over a tough Port Hope Panthers hockey club. The Panthers proved how tough they were as they went on to defeat the 73's in the next three games to even the series at 3-3 and force a seventh and deciding game in the friendly rink they call home.
If the 73's were to claim the championship they would need to adjust their game and get back to solid defense, something that lacked in the three Panthers victories. Either way, this was predicted to be a great game from two teams that have been very evenly matched.
At the end of the night, it was indeed defense that turned the trick for the 73's, as Noah Hedrick shutout Port Hope for the second time in the series, this time by a slim 1-0 score.
Period one was scoreless as Hedrick, and his counterpart Devan Tremblay were unbeatable with the home team having an 11-8 shot advantage.
Essex held a slim 6-5 shot advantage in the middle frame but managed to score the game's only goal as Jordan Ryan beat Tremblay late in the period on a feed from Tyler Scott.
The Panthers held a 9-7 advantage in shots in period three but could not get the equalizer.
This was a classic game for a game seven. Shots were very close with both teams getting their chances, and the key, only one power play in the entire sixty minutes, a rarity at this level of hockey, but a rarity that we wish would could see more often.
Congratulations to the Port Hope Panthers on a great season, and a great series, and congratulations to the Essex 73's on capturing Schmalz Cup number seven
Port Hope Edged 1-0 In Game 7 Of Schmalz Cup Final
Courtesy of North Cumberland Today
PORT HOPE - In the end, the Port Hope Panthers didn't have one more rally left in them.
They couldn't have come much closer to winning the Ontario Hockey Association junior C championship series, though, but it was just out of their grasp.
The Panthers had rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to force Game 7 on Friday night, but the visiting Essex 73's earned a 1-0 victory to capture the Schmalz Cup in front of 1,200 spectators at the Jack Burger Sports Complex in Port Hope.
Jordan Ryan scored the lone goal for Essex with 3:09 left in the second period. That put the Panthers in the position of trying to battle back the rest of the way.
“It's always tough to lose and it's tough to lose at this stage (of the season), but I'm proud of them,” Panthers head coach Mat Goody said of his players. “I'm proud of the way they fought back and they should be proud of themselves. It was a hard fought battle. Credit to (Essex), they played a tight game. It was a good hockey game and the community should be proud of these guys too for the way they conducted themselves all season.”
It was May of last year that the Panthers began this run to the Schmalz Cup final. That was when rookie camp was held with the return of Goody as head coach and the goal of reaching the OHA championship junior C championship .
It was perhaps a lofty goal considering the Panthers had been eliminated in the first round of the Empire Junior C Hockey League playoffs the previous season, but the club was setting its goals high.
They finished the 2014-2015 Empire regular campaign with a first-place record of 31-8-1, which was 18 points ahead of the second-place Napanee Raiders.
In the Empire playoffs, the Panthers defeated the defending champion Picton Pirates in five games and then swept Napanee in four games in the league final.
In the OHA Schmalz Cup playoffs, the Panthers knocked off the Clarington Eagles in six games in the quarterfinals and swept the Alliston Hornets four straight in the semifinals.
Trailing 3-0 in the championship series against Essex, the Panthers could have swept.
Goody believes the way his club rebounded made it a better experience, despite the Game 7 defeat.
“I think it would have hurt more going out four straight,” he remarked. “Now we know what those guys felt like for the last two years. They've battled through adversity themselves – they've got guys there that have been through (losing) twice. Congratulations to them and it's exciting how far we came in a year as a year. It's important that we take the good from this and move forward.”
Essex was playing in their third straight Schmalz Cup final after losing to Picton in 2013 and the Lakefield Chiefs in 2014.
Scott Bromley, the 73s captain, played on both those teams and noted it was the fourth straight year for his club in the Schmalz Cup playoffs that he's been a part of.
While Bromley said it was “amazing” to finally be victorious, he acknowledged it wasn't easy.
“Port Hope was a heck of a team, making that three-game comeback, so we had to really rally back together,” Bromley said. “They gave us our best run yet and that was a fun series to play in. Kudos to them, they did an awesome job.”
Bromley said the73s were able to overcome the Port Hope rally in the series because of the camaraderie amongst the players.
“A lot of us are best friends and hang out outside the arena so it was pretty easy for our leaders to rally the guys because say one thing and all these guys jump on board because we're such good friends,” he remarked. “I'm super happy for all the guys on our team. I'm super proud of all the young guys who came in and bought into the systems and everything.”
This was expected to be a rebuilding season for the 73s.
“We lost our two main goal scorers and a couple really key defencemen, so it was supposed to be a rebuilding year,” Bromley said. “We got a lot of good guys who came out to our camp. We're not the most skilled team ever, but we have a whole group of 20 guys who buy into the systems. All the guys here did an amazing year.”
Friday's Game 7 was the final junior contest for Bromley, Ryan – who scored the decisive goal in his swan song – Daniel McIntyre and Daniel Slipchuk.
“I'm just so proud of our boys,” said Essex head coach Gil Langlois. “You look at the two teams and they probably had more skill than we did, but we just found a way to get it done here today. A 1-0 victory is so sweet, especially for the four overagers. A couple of them have been with me for the four years.
“We exceeded our expectations coming into the season because we had so many new guys and two rookie goalies.”
Like Bromley, Langlois gave kudos to the Panthers.
“You have to tip your hat to Port Hope 100%,” he said. “They work so hard and it's been said before, the first three games a bounce here or a bounce there it would have been a totally different outcome (in those games) probably. They're well-coached and they played hard. What I enjoyed about today's game, there was no goofiness, the kids stuck to hockey and really had a commitment to playing the game and winning.
“I applaud Port Hope's tenacity,” Langlois added. “They're a very good team.”
The 73s made the long trek home to Essex, near Windsor, after the game Friday.
“It's going to be a nice ride home,” Langlois said. “A long one, but a nice one.”
Panthers coach Goody, meanwhile, gave praise to his overagers who played their final junior game. They were captain Jacob Spicer, Tyler Davey, Connor Turland, Dylan Baxter and goaltender Devan Tremblay.
“Those guys have a special place in my heart and they're good people and they have bright future ahead of them,” he said.
Spicer remained positive even when the Panthers fell behind 3-0 in the series. He said in an interview with Northumberland Today at the time that his club had an opportunity facing elimination. He wasn't pleased for the Panthers to be down three games to none, but he suggested how it great of a win it would be to rally and win in such dramatic fashion.
After that, the Panthers won three straight and were just short of the championship victory.
“Anytime you're down 3-0, especially in the final, and you have enough character in the room to even come back and force it to Game 7, it's a privilege,” Spicer said. It sucks to fall short, but at the same time I'm proud to fall short with that team. I wouldn't want to go through it with any other guys. That was my best year of hockey.”
Spicer played five seasons for the Panthers and it was his first time in front of a sell-out crowd at the Jack Burger Sports Complex.
“It's great, win or lose, to know we have that much support,” Spicer said. “I've never in my life played in front of an electric crowd like that. To end my career like that, even though we lost, it's nice to know I and the team had all that support.”
Panthers Force Game Seven With 4-1 Win Over Essex
By: Garrett Fodor
Tuesday night the Port Hope Panthers picked up their third straight win forcing a one game, winner take all on Friday evening in Port Hope. The visitors came out with the momentum and had their legs going right from the opening puck drop, and they cruised past the locals by a score of 4-1.
The Panthers were quick to control the puck as they drove the net hard and forced Essex to take a penalty just 12 seconds into the game. The 73's managed to kill off the minor this time around. With the majority of the 1180 in attendance rooting on the home team the locals managed to open the scoring as Scott Bromley beat the Panthers goaltender Devan Tremblay with a wrister from the point at 10:54. After pouring on the pressure for the majority of the period, Essex once again found themseleves in penalty trouble and this time around the visitors capitalized to deadlock the game heading into the break.
Period two was dominated by the Panthers, thanks to numerous penalties called on Essex, and held a 20-6 shot advantage, but managed to score just a single tally which proved to be the game winner mid-period. Hedrick was beaten high glove side on an innocent looking shot that was wide of the goal.
Trailing by two starting the third period Essex would need to push hard if they were to win this game. Unfortunately it was not to be for the locals, as two unassisted markers over the final twenty minutes sealed their fate, and would send this series to a deciding game seven back in Port Hope on Friday evening.
"Our lack of discipline got the best of us tonight, it was definitely a turning point. Our special teams were not able to get us out of the situations we created for ourselves," said, Tyler Scott. "We have dropped three straight, heading into game seven, we just need to prove Port Hope wrong, as they think they have all the momentum. We beat them in game one in their building, we can certainly do it again. We just need to keep our game simple, and play our system," Scott said.
Panthers Find Way to Force Game Six in Essex on Tuesday Night
By: Kevin E. Neels
The Essex 73's are officially in a series after Port Hope won game five 5-4 on Sunday afternoon to turn Essex' 3-0 series lead into a slim 3-2 series lead. Essex played well enough to win on Sunday but just could not buy enough breaks to end this series. This game was a see saw battle from start to finish with the power play playing a large part.
The teams exchanged goals in the opening period with both coming on the power play. The home team opened the scoring at 16:38 with the 73's Jordan Ryan replying less than a minute later at 17:24.
The middle frame did not solve anything either as each club found the back of the net twice for a 3-3 deadlock.
Port Hope once again hit the score sheet first before the 73's responded quickly once more. Alex Derksen scored for Essex. The locals took their first lead of the game at 11:59 as Jordan Ryan was left unattended and went roof shot. The Panthers responded late in the period on a 2 on 1.
Port Hope received an early third period gift to grab the lead which they would not relinquish when a high shot deflected off a players helmet to beat Noah Hedrick. The home team increased the lead to 5-3 on another power play marker at 7:21. The 73's took over at this point and made a valiant effort to get back on even terms hemming the Panthers deep in their own zone for minutes at a time. Unfortunately for Essex they could only muster up one score to get close. Brad Carroll scored on a rebound with two and a half minutes left. The 73's managed to get Hedrick on the bench for the final minute of play but could not get the equalizer.
"I don't think their was much more that we could have done, "said, Ryan, "Overall we played a pretty good hockey game. Unfortunately, we made just enough mistakes to allow them to get the win. We have great support from our fans, and I feel confident that if we put in the same effort Tuesday at home, we will get the job done, and that will be a great feeling to win at home."
Game six goes Tuesday in Essex at 7:00 pm.
Panthers Hold Off 73's 4-0 to Force Game Five
By: Kevin E. Neels
The Port Hope Panthers proved Saturday evening that it is not over until it is over, after shutting down the Essex 73's 4-0.
The game was tight until the third period, when the home team put it away scoring three unanswered goals, thanks in part to some undisciplined play by the locals which cost them a pair of goals.
Port Hope scored the only goal they would need on the night just over three minutes into the game as Noah Hedrick was beaten high on the glove side. This goal gave the Panthers their first lead in the series, and they were not going to give it up. The remainder of the period was scoreless.
Period two was scoreless as well in a real defensive battle. Both teams were limited to just six shots on goal each.
The home team grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first minute of the third period, and things went downhill from there for the 73's. Essex proceeded to take a few undisciplined penalties the rest of the way and the Panthers took advantage scoring a pair with the man advantage to put this game away.
Noah Hedrick said, "Tomorrow, we need to do a better job of not allowing these guys to get under our skin as we did not do a good job of that tonight. More importantly, we need to stay focused on what we came here to do."
73's Take Commanding 3-0 Lead Over Panthers
By: Garrett Fodor
Sunday afternoon the Essex 73's took on the Port Hope Panthers and managed to extend their series lead to a commanding 3-0 advantage with a 4-3 win in front of 900 fans. Game 4, and if needed game 5 will go next Saturday and Sunday in Port Hope.
The first period went much the same way as Saturday's tilt, with the teams fairly evenly matched for much of it. It came down to the final minute of play before the locals found the score sheet with a familiar face getting the goal, Matthew Hebert. Hebert registered a shorthanded beauty when he burst up the ice and beat Devan Tremblay five hole with 24 ticks remaining on the clock.
Coming out of the dressing room for period two did not help the visitors any as just over a minute in Essex extended their lead as Phil Janikowski found the back of the net with an off speed shot that carommed in off the post. Port Hope would go on to cut the lead in half before Brad Carroll responded with five minutes left in the period.
The Panthers, knowing their season was at risk with a loss tonight responded quickly in period three notching their first extra strength goal of the series. Matthew Hebert continued his torrid pace of late adding his second of the night and fourth in the past two games to put Essex up by a pair once again just past the midpoint of the period.
After getting their goaltender on the bench for an extra attacker the Panthers managed to pull within a goal in the final minute, but that was as close as they would get suffering another one goal defeat.
"I felt it was another great game today. We were back and forth for much of it, " said, Eric Shaw, who had a pair of helpers in the game. "Everybody deserves the credit, we have been playing real well, getting pucks to the net, and making their goaltender work. Next weekend, it is important that we just stick to what got us here, keep it simple, and we should be in a great place."
Game four will go Saturday evening in Port Hope at 6:00 pm.
73's Increase Schmalz Cup Series Lead to Two Games with 2-1 Win
By: Garrett Fodor
On Saturday night the Essex 73's hosted the Port Hope Panthers for game two of the Schmalz Cup Final. The teams have been idle for a week following Essex' 2-0 win in Port Hope a week ago. Essex is now up 2-0 in the series after Saturday's 2-1 nail biter.
If the first two games are any indication, this series will be a very close defensive battle as both teams are evenly matched and are playing very disciplined for the most part. The first period was uneventful for the most part in the way of offense. Both teams had their share of opportunities however. With 90 seconds left in the opening frame, Matthew Hebert opened the scoring when he unleashed a one-timer past Panthers goaltender Devan Tremblay after a feed from line mate Tyler Scott.
Period two was exciting and tense. Port Hope finally solved Noah Hedrick at the seven minute mark on a scramble. From there the Panthers continued to push, and, this was by far their best period of hockey of the series. They frustrated the locals and did a good job of hemming Essex deep in their own zone for shifts at a time. But after holding the visitors at bay, in the closing minutes of the period Matthew Hebert struck again to give the 73's a lead they would never relinquish after deflecting a point shot from Scott Bromley past Tremblay.
Despite the hard push the Panthers made in the final frame, including an altercation between Mike Smith and Dallas Pereira, the visitors were unable to find any more offense in dropping the game 2-1. Essex outshot Port Hope by a slim 32-30 margin.
"It felt great out there tonight, " said , player of the game Matthew Hebert, "It's an indescribable feeling. This is the first time in three years that we have been in this position, and we are excited to say the least. Our defensive play especially was strong tonight, and we limited the action around Hedrick. We outworked them, and we need to continue to do that, and carry our system into tomorrow's game, which should put us in a real good place. Having said that we know this series is far from over as that is a real good hockey team on the other side of the ice, " Hebert continued.
Game 3 goes this afternoon at 3pm in Essex.
73's Draw First Blood, Win Defensive Battle 2-0 Over Port Hope
By: Kevin E. Neels
The Essex 73's and Port Hope Panthers opened their Schmalz Cup final in Port Hope Saturday evening, and, if the remainder of this series follows the path of game one, it looks like it will be a defensive battle from start to finish.
Essex edged Port Hope 2-0, and will host the Panthers for games two and three next weekend. Shots for the game favoured the home team by a slim 21-19 margin. Noah Hedrick earned the shutout for his third of the post season.
The teams probably had opening period jitters as is usually expected when two clubs meet for the first time. Neither team could break the ice in period one and headed to the dressing room scoreless.
The visitors hit the score board early in period two with what proved to be the game winner. Dallas Pereira scored from line mates Brad Carroll and Daniel Slipchuk at 2:05.
The 73's doubled their lead mid third period as Tyler Scott beat Panthers goaltender Devan Tremblay. Matthew Hebert and Tyler Turner earned the assists on the goal.
Picking up the win on the road to start the series was huge for Essex as they needed to grab at least one victory in Port Hope anyway. Hopefully the locals can take advantage of the win and not allow Port Hope to return the favour next weekend in Essex.
Game two goes Saturday night at 7:30 pm followed by game three Sunday afternoon at 3:00 pm.
NOTES: Attendance announced was 885... Both Mainella brothers were scratches as well as Anthony Christoforo... Port Hopr wears vintage New York Rangers colours... Few penalites called in the game, two on Essex and three on Port Hope, all minors... Matthew Hebert (5-7-12), Tyler Scott (7-3-10) and Scott Bromley (5-5-10) are 3rd and 5th overall in Schmalz Cup playoff points.
73's Advance to OHA Schmalz Cup Final For Third Consecutive Year
By: Garrett Fodor
On Tuesday night the Essex 73's punched their ticket to the big dance once again, where the Port Hope Panthers await. The Panthers knocked off the Alliston Hornets in the other semifinal series in four straight games. Essex advanced by beating Ayr 5-4 in game number five of their semi-final series.
The first period was close like many in this series have been. The two teams were evenly matched with the locals holding a slight 14-11 shots advantage in the period. But heading into the intermission the 73's trailed by a goal as 73's goaltender Noah Hedrick was beat in the final minute of play off a goal mouth scramble.
Essex came out strong in period two beating Centennials goal keeper Andre Keire four times, while Hedrick allowed just one. Phil Janikowski tied the score just two minutes into the period on a breakaway as he let go a quick snap shot. Scott Bromley finished off a nice pass from Daniel Slipchuk to give Essex their first lead of the game a few minutes later. Jordan Ryan went five hole for goal number three, and Matthew Hebert scored on yet another breakaway later in the period. Ayr stopped the bleeding a bit by scoring late in the period to trail 4-2 heading into period three.
A few minutes into the final period the visitors were within a goal as Eric Hackborn beat Hedrick. Essex' Michael Vieira got that one back to increase the lead to a pair once again. Things stayed that way until late in the period when Ayr pulled to within a goal once again to set up a nail biting finish. Unfortunately for the visitors from Ayr they could get no closer as the 73's held on for the 5-4 victory.
"I felt we played pretty good for the most part, but we did have a few shaky moments, especially late in the game when they were pushing for the equalizer, " said, Scott Bromley, "But we remained calm and managed to get the job done. Heading into our next series, I think that it is important that we use whatever time we have off to get healthy. We have a few guys who are sick, along with the usual bumps and bruises that come with this time of year. We are going to be practicing long and hard, and hopefully,
the third time is the charm, " Bromley continued.
NOTE: Rookie defenceman Nick Mainella returned to the 73’s lineup.
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Letter of Interest to the Essex 73's
April 1, 2015
We would like to take a moment to say thank you!
Attended Tuesday night’s game against Ayr. After the periods my son Matthew (age 5) likes to run over to the players as they exit the ice. At the end of the game he went over to do just that - to high-five the players - and on this occasion he was given a hockey stick from #15 Eric Shaw.
Please pass on many thanks to Eric as he made my son's night. Matthew has many talks with us of one day playing for the 73's and enjoys going to the games . So once again thank you from the parents of a very happy 5 year-old.
Keep up the hard work and get the job done....GO 3's GO!
Paul and Beth Cunningham
73's Win 6-3 to Claim 4th Straight Great Lakes Junior C Title
Former 73's Tender Jake Kment Enjoying Life In The Ontario Hockey League
After failing to make the North Bay Battalion in training camp last fall, and spending much of the time practicing with the Soo Thunderbird of the Northwern Ontario Junior Hockey League, Jake Kment finally got his shot in early January and it seems to have paid off, not only for him, but for the Battalion, too.
A 6th round pick in the OHL draft back in 2013, Kment played in 8 games, starting in 6 of those games, and has yet to lose. His record is 6-0 with one shutout, a .910 save percentage and a sparkling 2.14 goals against average.
Kment just turned 19 on March 13th and is hoping to be able to help the Battalion in the upcoming playoffs.
North Bay finished 3rd in the Eastern Conference with 85 points. Barrie Colts also had 85 points but won the tie-breaker and finished 2nd to Oshawa Generals who led the conference with 108 points. The Battalion will faceoff against the Kingston Frontenacs.
Overall, the Battalion had the 2nd best goals against average in the entire OHL league - 2.87.
Jake is primarily the backup to veteran Jake Smith who is in his third season with the Battalion and has a 2.78 goals against average.
Last season the Battalion lost in the OHL finals to the Guelph Storm.
You can follow Jake on Twitter@JKment_1.