Updated: Jan 5
Jamie McDermott may be a rookie head coach but he looks like a veteran guiding the Essex 73's this season. The team opens the second half of season Tuesday night at home against Wallacebureg as the top team in the PJHL's Stobbs Division with a 22-1-1 record. Their 45 points is the third best total in the province. "Hopefully we can keep it up in the second half."
The first half success was built on hard work, according to McDermott, and starts from the back end. The 73's have the stingiest defence in Ontario having allowed only 30 goals in 24 games. The next best team is the Stayner Siskins with 33 goals in 22 games. "We're more technically sound in our own zone this year." said defenceman Jacob Fields. "Simple hard work hockey type of deal."
The goaltending tandem of Adrian McBride and Cavan McCabe has been tough to beat. McBride has 14 wins and is second in the PJHL with a 1.37 goals against average. McCabe is 8-0 with a 1.00 GAA.
"Our D have been great all year. Been great in front of us. Caber, my goalie partner, he's been amazing too in his first year." said McBride.
The offence isn't as prolific. Their top scorer is Jacob Archer who is 59th in league scoring with 28 points. "Perfect" said McDermott who knows defence will be the name of the game come playoff time. "Coming from the Tony Piroski era that's the way we won."
McDermott was an assistant coach under Tony Piroski for 16 years (ten in Essex with three Schmalz Cup championships and six in Leamington with two Western Conference championships).
"I know they say the game has changed but if the other team doesn't score you can't lose. The guys are buying in"
Hear more from Jamie in this video brought to you by the St. Clair College Alumni Association.