Blades win a nail-biter before huge home crowd

Whew, that was too close.
Sunday night at the Blenheim Memorial Arena the third-place  Blenheim Blades and the last-place Wallaceburg Thunderhawks hit
the ice before a season high crowd of 615 fans, and had those fans on the edge of their seats all night before Blades defenceman Craig
Spence scored at 3:17 of sudden-death overtime to give the home  crowd a 6-5 victory.

The win was the 16th of the season for the third-place Blades, who  now have 33 points thanks to a 16-9-0-1 Provincial Junior Hockey League Stobbs Division record. The 33 points has the Blades five up on the fourth-place Wheatley Sharks and eight ahead of the fifth-place Mooretown Flags. Blenheim has played 26 games, Wheatley just 22 and Mooretown 24.
The Division will break for the holidays later this week with the Blades last game before the break being Wednesday – a head-to-head match with the Sharks in Wheatley at 7:30 p.m.  Besides the excitement on the ice there was plenty of other things going on as Santa Claus made his annual visit in the lobby to greet fans, and following the Blades win fans young and old alike hit to ice to take part in the annual “Skate With The Blades” event. It was also “Blades Mom’s Night” with those moms in attendance wearing their son’s road jerseys. Fans were urged to bring a food donation to the game with the food going to the Word of Life Church’s soup kitchen and the food bank.

The fans came through in a big way. As for the game itself, the Thunderhawks didn’t play like a last-place club as the teams were tied 2-2 after the first period, with
Wallaceburg up 4-3 after 40 minutes.  Blenheim forward Ayden McKinlay opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the season, and third in the last two games, at 3:32 of
the first period, with Connor Wright and Ben Barnard assisting. Thunderhawks captain Josh Remsik then scored twice, first at 4:21 and again at 10:34, to put his team up 2-1 before Blades’s defenceman Brad McAlpine netted his fourth of the season at 11:11 assists going to Wright and Noah Prudhomme.

Wallaceburg netted two quick powerplay goals in the second period, one at 7:18 by Nelson Dekoning, and a second by Remsik at 7:50, with
the Blades Sam Warriner adding a powerplay marker of this own at 9:32 to wrap up the second-period scoring.  Wright and Prudhomme again assisted on the play. The third period started with Tate Bowden scoring his 15th of the season at 1:14, with assists going to Darby Lemieux and Spence, followed by an end-to-end solo performance by Prudhomme at 15:15
to give the Blades a 5-4 lead.  The unassisted goal was Prudhomme’s 13th of the season.  Ben Brooks took a minor penalty for head contact at 15:59, followed
by a double minor to Wright at 16:14 that led to Wallaceburg tying the game at 5-5 to force overtime when Connor Debot scored at 17:15.
Spence then ended things with his game winner. The goal was Spence’s second since joining the team earlier this month.



Not dressed for the Blades were Zach Van Boxtel, Evan Wells and Austin Drew…The Blades have now won five of six games in December, outscoring their opposition 31-17…Blenheim outshot Wallaceburg 60-26…Jake Vancoillie played the first period in goal for the Blades, with Owen Lemieux taking over for the second, third and
overtime…Chatham-Kent Ward 2 councilor Anthony Ceccacci dropped a ceremonial puck prior to the first faceoff…Ceccacci had covered the
admission cost for all children 12 years of age and under…Sunday’s ice  sponsor was Blenheim lawyer Mark Michael MacKew.