By Sam Westcott | The Pearl | Vol. 7 No. 1 (January 16, 2019)
After winning the league championship a year ago, the Marks Mount Pearl Junior Blades are in good position to make a run for a second-straight cup.
The team currently sits in first place in the St. John’s Junior Hockey League, three points ahead of the CBR Renegades, who have a game in-hand.
With the Blades get set to host the Renegades next Sunday night at The Glacier, coach Adam Collins says the game will be the biggest test of the season.
“Both teams have good goaltending, good defense, good forwards,” Collins says. “Both play a fast-paced game. I think the team that wins will be the team that comes out the strongest on specialty teams. We’re a fast, quick-paced team, we like to play up-tempo. But our specialty is on the power-play. CBR, sometimes they like to play a physical style, we don’t retaliate. We play our game, and usually get a few goals on the power-play.”
The Blades have met the Renegades twice so far this seasons, winning both games with scores of 3-0, and 8-5.
Currently, the Blades have the league’s leading goal-scorer in Collin O’Neill, the leading points holder in captain Michael Broders, and in Goals Against Average, with goaltender Mitch Rogers.
While Collins says the Blades’ play this year matches to how the championship-winning team was playing a year ago, the current Blades squad is not without room for improvement.
“Trying to play our style for 60 minutes of hockey is the key,” Collins says. “It seems like a lot of teams hang around for a period, or two periods, but the last period seems to be the one that we can score a few goals.”
Both Collins and the Blades’ team President Wally O’Neill believe the level of play across the league has risen this season, and that the playoff stretch is only more interesting because of it.
“Any team can beat any team in this league on any night,” O’Neill says. “Avalon took it to us the other night, even though we took the game at the end of the day. But at the 10-minute mark the shots were 9-2 for Avalon. I don’t think you can take anything for granted.”
The Blades did hold on for an 8-3 victory in their last home game against the Avalon Celtics, a game that got heated in the second period with a series of minor penalties against both sides, but one the Blades eventually took control of.
“It’s a great quality of hockey,” O’Neill says. “Junior hockey right now is probably one of the best games in town.”
The Blades host the 2nd-Place CBR Renegades at The Glacier, Sunday, January 20th at 7:15 p.m.