Updated: Nov 3
Out of 61 teams in the Provincial Junior Hockey League there are only three left that are undefeated. Grimsby is 10-0-2. The Hanover Barons are 11-0-0-1. The Essex 73's are an unblemished 14-0. They have dented the twine a league leading 101 times, 22 more than North Middlesex who lead the West Yeck Division.
"All the boys are buying into coach's systems and we're all on the same page every night." said Gabe Piccolo who leads the team with 13 goals and 14 assists. "If we keep playing for each other and not for ourselves I believe we can keep finding success."
First year head coach Mark Ridout knew about the rich history of the 73's having watched his brother Matt win a Schmalz Cup with the team in 2002. He also appreciates the fans. "I felt it when I first took the job." said the former OHL'er. "I got reached out to by probably a hundred fans just saying welcome aboard which is foreign to me with all the other jobs I've had."
One of those jobs was as an assistant to Eric Wellwood with the OHL's Flint Firebirds. The players have responded to their new head coach who describes himself as an old school coach. "I have expectations and if I don't get those expectations they're not gonna be real happy and I'm not gonna be happy." Ridout said. "I think truly there's been a mutual respect and I think the team we put together here, as long as we continue to play together I think it's gonna be a fun team to watch."
Piccolo won the Sutherland Cup with the Leamington Flyers last year and has embraced the culture and feels the 73's are on the right track. "I love it so far. The boys have been amazing and we're really building something for down the road." Piccolo said. "The team's been nothing but great and I'm happy to be here and be a family with all these boys."
The 73's are in Lakeshore Friday to take on the Canadiens before hosting Amherstburg at home next Tuesday.
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