Blades cruise to 6-1 home opener victory

The Blenheim Blades kicked off their 2023-24 Provincial Junior Hockey League Stobbs Division 42-game season Sunday night by beating the Walpole Island Wild 6-1 before over 500 fans at the Blenheim arena.

     The crowd was the biggest for a regular season game in a long time, and they saw the Blades put on an offensive and defensive show, scoring six times, allowing just a third-period goal, and outshooting the Wild 48-12.

     Next up for the Blades will be a road game in Mooretown Saturday at 7:30 against the Flags, and a home contest next Sunday at 7 p.m. when the Dresden Kings come to town.

    The Blades scored in each period Sunday with former Dresden King Breck Rainey kicking things off with a tally with the game just 5:42 old.

   Veterans  Connor Roth and Brad McAlpine assisted on the play.

    At 11:13 veteran Ryan Sanders made it 2-0, assisted by rookies Quinn Pickering and Gavin Meriano.

   The second period saw goals by veteran Craig Spence at 25 seconds, Meriano at 11:54 and veteran Darby Lemieux at 15:07.

    Lemieux and McAlpine assisted on the Spence goal, with rookies Matt Hayter and Andrew Goulet helping out on Meriano’s score, and veterans Tate Bowden and Zach Van Boxtel doing the same on Lemieux’ goal.

   Spence scored again at 4:38 of the third period, with an assist going to rookie Justin Ewald. That goal came on a powerplay.

    Walpole finally got on the board thanks to a powerplay goal by Aaron Highfield to spoil veteran netminder Owen Lemieux’s bid for a shutout.

    BLADES BITS: The Blades have now played three exhibition games and one league game and allowed just three goals…Julie McDonald of the Ridge Landfill Community Trust, the Blades major sponsor, was on hand to drop a ceremonial puck to help open the season….Prior to the game the Blades players were introduced to the fans and lined up on their blueline for the national anthem……Spence was named the game’s first star, McAlpine the second and Rainey the third…Sunday’s ice time sponsor was the Ridge Landfill Community Trust.