Blizzard blanks Slammers and takes first place overall

Gabriel Vanier (91) had a great game on Friday night with two goals. Photo Digiphoto

EDMUNDSTON, New Brunswick – The Edmundston Blizzard has two reasons to smile. First, the team smashed the Woodstock Slammers 4-0 on Friday night in front of 2,384 fans at the Jean-Daigle Centre in Edmundston. Second, the team is now ranked first overall in the Maritime Junior Hockey League.

Led by Gabriel Vanier, who had two goals and goalkeeper Francis Asselin, who blocked all 23 shots he faced, the Blizzard made it through while being short of staff.

Ryan Salvis’ squad was playing without the services of five regular players. Captain Kyle Ward is still in Rouyn-Noranda in the QMJHL, as well as defenseman Dominic Hachey who was recalled by the Charlottetown Islanders for the weekend games. Assistant captain Logan Johnston was absent as he competes in the Junior A selection camp of Team Canada East who will compete at the next World Junior A Challenge in Truro in Nova Scotia starting on December 10. Mathieu Blanchard did not play because he suffered an injury on Wednesday night, while defenseman Justin Lush served his first game of a two-game suspension, after his fight at the end of Wednesday’s game.

The Blizzard played Friday with five defensemen and nine forwards.

After a scoreless first period, the Blizzard capitalized on a lucky bounce at 14:41 of the second period. Samuel Bastille scored his first goal as a Blizzard in an unusual way during a breakaway. Goalkeeper Andrew Rose made the first save but one of his defensemen pushed the puck accidentally in the net. This lucky goal literally knocked out the Slammers. Gabriel Vanier made it 2-0 at 16:24, allowing the Blizzard to return to the dressing room with a two-goal lead.

Edmundston struck early in the third period when Vanier scored his second goal of the night at 2:27. Halfway in the period at 10:41, Vincent Rioux got a breakaway and he beat Rose through the five-hole.

Alexandre Bernier also had a sharp night with three assists. Alexandre Jacob had two helpers.

The Blizzard outshot the Slammers 33-23. The three stars of the game went to Vanier (1st), Asselin (2nd) and Bastille (3rd).

Edmundston’s record shows 18 wins, 4 losses and 2 losses in overtime for 38 points, one more than the South Shore Lumberjacks in the overall standings. The Lumberjacks (18-5-0-1) lost 4-3 in the shootout on Friday against Amherst.

The Blizzard returns to action on Sunday when the team plays host to the Valley Wildcats starting at 3 pm. The doors of the Jean-Daigle Centre will open at 2 pm.

– 30 –

Contact: Hugues Chiasson, vice-president communications – The Edmundston Blizzard; (506) 740-0623 – cell phone