Spence stars, Vancoillie outstanding net, as Blades tie Essex 4-4

Friday night in Lakeshore veteran Blades goal Jake Vancoillie gave up five goals on 12 before being replaced by Owen Lemieux in a PJHL Stobbs Division game that Blenheim eventually lost to the hometown Canadiens 7-4.

   Sunday at the Blenheim arena Vancoillie was again the starting goalie, and went on to be named the game’s second star by stopping 56 of 60 Essex ’73s shots as he, and his teammates, battled to a 4-4 overtime tie with the first-place ’73s.

   The point gained with the tie gives the Blades 23 on the season, and a one-point lead over the Canadiens and Wheatley Sharks, who are tied for third at 22.

   First-place Essex now has 31 with their 15 wins, one loss and now the tie in 17 starts. The loss came at the hands of Lakeshore.

  This is a busy eight days for the Blades who will host the last-place Amherstburg Admirals Thursday, and then the fifth-place Mooretown Flags Sunday. Both games are at 7 p.m.

   Essex opened the scoring with the game just 4:59 old when Luke Sherk scored, and then Blades captain Craig Spence went to work scoring a powerplay goal at 11:29, and an even-strength tally at 19:03.

   Spence now has 10 goals on the season, with Darby Lemieux and Tate Bowden assisting on the first goal, and Justin Ewald and Matt Hayter on the second.

    Essex then grabbed a 3-2 lead in the second period thanks to goals by Nate Dowling and Gabriel Piccolo.

    Ryan Sanders, with his fourth marker of the year, tied things at 3-3 at 1:13 of the third period, and Brad McAlpine put the Blades up 4-3 with a powerplay goal at 15:46.

   It was McAlpine’s seventh tally of the season. Spence assisted on both goals, with Ewald helping out on the Sanders tally and Bowden on McAlpine’s.

   Then just 36 seconds later the game was tied again when Essex’s Norm McKiddin scored to force a seven-minute, sudden-death overtime during which neither team could score the winner even though the Blades outshot the ’73s 10-1, and missed several great chances to pick up the win.

   BLADES BITS: It was Remembrance Night with the Blenheim Royal Canadiens Legion Branch 185 colour guard on hand for a ceremony, and a puck drop prior to the start of the game…Remi Steen and Beau Moison did not dress for the Blades because of injuries, and Everitt Swayze was out because of a fighting major in the last 10 minutes of Friday’s game at Lakeshore…The Blades lead the eight-team league in penalty minutes with 374 to date…The Walpole Island Wild is second at 345, and Essex third at 342…The Dresden Kings have the fewest at 202…This coming Thursday night’s game will be “Elementary Students Night”, with all elementary students getting in for free…Spence was named the game’s first star, Vancoillie the second and McAlpine the third…Attendance was 517…Sunday’s ice sponsor was Blenheim Royal Canadian Legion Branch 185.