Blizzard wins season opener!

Captain Kyle Ward, in the center, receives hugs from his teammates after scoring his first goal of the night in the second period. He received the congratulations of Tristan Mercure (27), Logan Johnston (19) and Nolan Alward (16).

WOODSTOCK, New Brunswick – A fantastic and historic night for the Edmundston Blizzard who won its first game of the regular season of the Maritime Junior A Hockey League.

The Blizzard beat the Woodstock Slammers 5 to 4 who were opening their season at home on Friday, September 15. And the game was a hard fought battle.

Ryan Salvis’s men have spoiled the party and a fierce rivalry has probably started between the Trans-Canada Highway’s two cities.

Captain Kyle Ward of Sackville was the Blizzard’s spark plug by scoring twice. Ward made his presence felt at each of his appearances on the ice. His first star of the game was well deserved.

Alex Lavoie, Tristan Mercure and Maxime Grandmaison also put the puck behind goalkeeper Liam MacDonald who faced 26 shots.

The American Greg Moon of Massachusetts was very solid in net for the Blizzard, having nothing to blame on three of the four goals of the Slammers. He had been tested 20 times.

The first goal in the history of the Blizzard was the work of rearguard Alex Lavoie of Saint-Basile at 1:09 of the first period. Lavoie skated rapidly towards the net. Liam Leonard and Alexandre Bernier both got the helpers for this historic goal.

This was the only goal scored during the initial period which saw 42 minutes of penalty called by the two referees. A fight broke out in the 15th minute between Alexandre Bernier (Blizzard) and Jonathan Cloutier (Slammers). They were sent to their dressing room because fighting leads to an automatic game expulsion.

Second period was much more offensive. Having a man advantage, the Slammers tied the game at 1-1 with Brendan Bornstein’s goal at 0:55. It was at that moment that Captain Ward set out. He beat the goalkeeper at 3:45 on a power play with helpers going to Nolan Alward and Tristan Mercure. Less than three miutes later, at 6:17, the Blizzard widened the gap to 3 to 1 thanks to the acurate shot of Mercure, a Dieppe resident who grew up in Saint-Basile. Passes to Alexandre Jacob and Logan Johnston. Then, at 9:09, Ward scored again to make it 4 to 1 Blizzard. On that goal, a lot of credit goes to Jacob who battled hard for the puck’s control and put it on Ward’s stick. Johnston got a second assist. After 40 minutes, the Blizzard led 4-1 and took control of the game.

But the Slammers had not said their last word and the Blizzard well remembered the spectacular comeback that Woodstock had made in the last exhibition game at the AYR Motor Centre. Trailing 5-2 in the third period, Woodstock scored six unanswered goals to beat Edmundston 8-5.

At 11:05 of the third, Kyle Foreman gets the local fans raise from their seats by making it 4-2. Then, at 13:16, the Blizzard responds thanks to the unassisted goal by Maxime Grandmaison of Dieppe. It was 5-2 in favor of the Blizzard. One would have thought the rally impossible. But the determined Slammers got back on their feet and scared the Blizzard players. Foreman scores his second goal of the game at 13:32. Then, at 15:40, Jarrod Isley’s goal makes it 5-4. Woodstock’s fans come alive. The Slammers remove their goalkeeper but the Blizzard and netminder Greg Moon stand firm. The buzzer’s sound makes it official! The Blizzard wins its very first game in the MHL!

Edmundston will resume play with two games on the road next weekend. On Friday, September 22, at 7:30 pm, they visit the Campbellton Tigers. The next day, on Saturday, 23, starting at 7 pm, they face the St. Stephen Aces. The Blizzard will play its first local game on Friday, September 29, at 7:30 pm with the Amherst Ramblers being the visitors.

MORE NEWS… Maxime Grandmaison’s game winning goal was his first goal in the MHL. At 17, Grandmaison played five games with the Dieppe Commandos last season. He played the last two campaigns with the midget AAA Moncton Flyers… Many fans from the Northwest area were at the game to support the Blizzard… The AYR Motor Centre is an 860 seats arena. There were 760 spectators on Friday evening… Half and half draw was $752.50.

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