WALPOLE ISLAND – The Blenheim Blades, for the last few games, have played with a short bench, but nothing like Thursday night when they travelled to Walpole Island and blanked the Wild 6-0 in PJHL Stobbs Division action.
Missing from the lineup were nine regulars – 10 if you count veteran defenceman Alex Ewards who had knee surgery in September and is out for the season.
Not dressed because of injuries were forwards Darby Lemieux, Zach Van Boxtel and Beau Moison, and defencemen Remi Steen, Matt Hayter, Brad McAlpine, Owen Reeve and newly signed Will McCracken, as well as defenceman/forward Landon Hoskins, who was suspended.
The well-earned victory was the 17th of the year for the Blades, and moved them back into third place with 35 points, one ahead of the Wheatley Sharks, and five behind the second-place Lakeshore Canadiens, who will be at the Blenheim arena Sunday for a 7 p.m. game against the Blades.
After Sunday’s game the Blades will not be home again until Sunday, Jan. 7 when the Mooretown Flags come to town. Prior to that the Blades will be on the road for four games – in Mooretown Saturday, Dec. 23 for a 7:30 match with the Flags, in Dresden Friday, Dec. 29 to play the Kings at 7:30, in Essex Tuesday, Jan. 2 to tangle with the 73s at 7 p.m., and in Amherstburg Saturday, Jan. 6 for a 7:30 p.m. game.
In Thursday’s win the Blades that were healthy enough to play, plus AP callups, forward Dominic Meriano from the Chatham Cobras and defenceman Brady Cowell of the Wallaceburg Juveniles, put on quite a show.
In the scoring department, with the Blades leading 1-0 after the first period and 3-0 after the second, the goals came from Craig Spence, his 20th of the year, Everitt Swayze, his fourth, Ethan Chittle, his fourth, Jack Lewis, his first, Breck Rainey, his third and Goure, his first.
Spence, who leads the Stobbs Division in scoring with 57 points, added three assists, with Braden Twigg helping out with three, Joey Hayter two and Lewis, Andrew Goulet and Gavin Meriano one each.
Owen Lemieux was between the pipes for the Blades and stopped all 39 shots sent his way for his 10th victory of the season, and dropped his goals-against average to 2.77 in the process.
BLADES BITS: The shutout win was the Blades fourth of the season…Their only shutout loss was to Essex…Sunday night will be a special one for the Blades and the fans on hand with all children 12 and under admitted for free on behalf of Chatham-Kent councilor Anthony Ceccacci…As well Santa Claus will be there to greet fans as they come into the arena, and fans are urged to bring canned goods of food that will be collected and then donated to The Word Of Life Church’s soup kitchen…The three stars of the game were Spence, Lemieux and Twigg.