Essex wins Schmalz Cup in Game 7

Section: 
Sports

By Josh Howald

The Essex 73's are the best Junior C hockey team in the province.

For a record seventh time, Essex hoisted the Clarence Tubby Schmalz Cup as Ontario's best Junior C hockey club. But it wasn't easy.

The Great Lakes Junior C League champions nearly watched a 3-0 series lead slip away to the new kids on the scene, the Port Hope Panthers of the Empire B Junior C League.

Port Hope, appearing in its first ever Schmalz Cup final, clawed their way back into this series, and forced a Game 7 with a convincing 4-1 win on home ice last Monday.

Essex had home ice advantage for Game 7, which was played Friday night in front of more than 1,200 people at the Jack Burger Sports Complex.

Jordan Ryan scored early in the second period to give Essex a 1-0 lead, and it ended up standing as the game winner. Essex goaltender Noah Hendrick was named the game's first star, stopping all 25 Port Hope shots he faced.

Devan Tremblay, Port Hope's netminder, was named the game's second star - he stopped 20 of 21 Essex shots on goal.

As mentioned, the provincial title was the seventh for the Essex 73's franchise. They captured the Schmalz Cup in 1975, 1977, 1978, 2002, 2005, 2009 and 2015.

The 1991 Hanover Barons are the only Western League team to ever win the Schmalz Cup. This year, the Walkerton Hawks let a 3-0 series lead slip away in the provincial quarter-finals to the Alliston Hornets of the Georgian Bay Mid-Ontario League. The Hornets were then swept in the semi-finals by Port Hope.

Essex, meanwhile, swept both their quarter-final and semi-final series against Exeter and Ayr.