After being ahead 4-2 in the second period, the Amherstburg Admirals ending up falling short 7-5 to the visiting Blenheim Blades Saturday night at the Libro Centre.
Combined with an 8-3 loss to the Lakeshore Canadiens the night before, the Admirals now sit at 5-23-0-0 in the Provincial Junior Hockey League (Junior ‘C’) West Stobbs Division.
Giving up 15 goals in just two games, prompted Admirals coach Beau Hunter to say after Saturday night’s contest, “in our zone, we have to worry about picking up guys, but it’s a combination of things.”
Against Blenheim, the hosts got off to a great start a rookie Travis Knight scored and it was 1-1 after the first period. The second saw the Admirals build up a comfortable two-goal margin but the Blades chipped away and sent the two teams into the final period, knotted 4-4.
“I was happy with the second period. I didn’t like those late two goals. I would have liked to have gone into the second period with a bit of a lead,” said Hunter.
Scoring in the second period for Amherstburg were Mitch Demelo, who connected just 57 ticks into the middle frame, rookie Ryan Dufour got his fourth of the season and Connor Demelo also found the back of the net. Owen Papulkas, named the first star of the game, had three assists, including a beauty of a set up on Connor Demelo’s third period tally.
Dufour, along with fellow newcomer Brett Jones and Jeremy Desbiens were very strong on the forecheck all night which resulted in the Blades turning over the puck several times.
“That’s one thing we’ve been working on, the forecheck. When you pressure guys, that’s what happens,” said Hunter.
Zach VanBoxlel led the winners with a pair of goals, with singles from Justin Ewald, Andrew Goulet, Breck Rainey and Nick Cameron.
After the game, Hunter said that the Admirals played good enough to win.
“I think it was a combination of between defensive breakdowns, a couple of goals might have not gone in and a couple of bad penalties. You mix those all together and the score’s not going to go your way.”
Rookie Joe Costea started in net and made a couple of huge break-away saves but struggled late and was replaced by Josh Courtney.
The night before in Lakeshore, the Admirals kicked off the 2024 season with a loss to the province’s best team, 8-3.
Mitch Demelo opened the game’s scoring and Dufour had his best offensive game of the season with a pair. Julian Gignac led the way with a hat trick for the Canadiens who led 4-1 after 20 minutes. Lakeshore, who recorded their 21st consecutive win, scored three seconds into the second period and again at 10 seconds. Last Friday night’s game was the Admirals’ first game action since Dec. 22, an 8-1 loss that was also in Lakeshore. Stefan Jacobs scored the only Amherstburg goal in the Dec. 22 game.
Amherstburg sees action again Thursday night when they travel to Blenheim and Saturday night will host the Essex 73s. Puck drop at the Libro Centre is 7:30 p.m.
SLAPSHOTS… Blenheim’s Craig Spence did not dress for Saturday’s game. He was named the PJHL West Division Player of the Month for December and the team captain is amongst the league’s point leaders… Amherstburg’s Stefan Jacobs continues his point-streak which now sits at 12. Milestone for veteran blueline Jaydn Brown who is scheduled to play his 100th game on Thursday.
By Fred Groves