Blast concede last game of schedule

BRANTFORD – Shots-on-goal favoured the Brantford Blast 42-27, Friday night in Dundas, but the most important statistic, the 6-4 score, went to the McCoy’s. That put the Blast officially out of the running and their final scheduled game against the Whitby Dunlops scheduled for Sunday, meaningless.

Rather than risk someone being injured in a nothing game, the Blast management wisely pulled the plug, sending it’s thanks to fans by way of email and Facebook posts.

The notice read, “Attention BLAST NATION. Unfortunately tomorrow’s re-scheduled game between the Whitby Dunlops and Brantford BLAST has been cancelled due to it not having impact on the final standings. The Brantford BLAST would like to thank you, the greatest fans in Allan Cup Hockey for always being there. The BLAST wish everyone a safe and happy summer. Stay tuned to our social media for updates on all your BLAST NATION news.”

It has been a disappointing season for the Allan Cup winners of 2008, and the worst season in franchise history, with eight wins and 15 losses for 24 points.

Just when the Blast was about to turn it on for a late season charge out of the basement, one of Ham’s parental goaltending duo, Anthony Marshall bolted for the Dundas Real McCoys. Co-incidentally, Brett Leggat was handed a multi-game suspension for an infraction in the crease and would be out, throwing the team into panic. Another journeyman goalie came in and performed well but the hole the Blast left for themselves this year was just too deep and far too steep.

Six Nations/New Credit’s Cam Sault joined the Blast in 2011/2012, heading back home to work with youth on the Oshweken reserve. He has been a steady part of the Blast franchise ever since.

The Blast began life in 2000 as the Brantford Prowl, but after its only season of existence, they took the 2001-02 season off and emerged as the Brantford Blast  under Ham and his wife Judy’s ownership and leadership for the 2002 to 2003 season.

The Blast were “also rans” in the next three seasons, but Ham kept the franchise solvent with his natural talent for promotion, drawing just enough fans to keep the doors open.

Then, in 2005, the Blast underwent a complete turn around, finishing first and making it to the playoffs, but no further. Two more seasons proved reasonably successful at the gate and on the ice finishing third in 2006 to 2007 and second in 2007 to 2008.

It was that year, the Blast hosted the Allan Cup Playoffs at the Civic Centre and won the coveted chalice in front of a huge Brantford Crowd.

A battle with Brantford’s City Hall over rent and priority booking forced the Blast, Canada’s best Sr. Hockey team, too take a year off. When they returned in 2010-11, the Blast finished second.

The league changed its name to the Allan Cup Hockey league in 2011-12 and the Blast finished third. They finished first in 1012-13 third in 13-14, but every time, they never got another good close look at the Cup.

In 2014 to 2015, and in 2015 to 2016, after finishing second in the regular season, lost in the league final both times.

2011 to 2012 would prove to be the last of Sault’s professional hockey days, as he suited up for one last season in the SPHL with the Mississippi RiverKings. He would score three goals and assist on 15 others to finish with 18 points in 38 games played.  He concluded the SPHL portion of his career with 44 points (12 goals, 32 assists) in 80 games, before heading back home to work with youth on the Oshweken reserve.

Always the optimist, Ham expects a turn-around season in 2018 to 2019, but he may have to start from scratch. Several of his veteran players are getting a tad long-in- the-tooth as many other franchises are loading up with speed and youth.

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