Puck not bouncing right for Blast

BRANTFORD – Getting your butt kicked every night has its own set of problems for a team trying to compete at a level way above its abilities. But losing game after game by one single goal has its own set of frustrations, which are no less troublesome.

The Brantford Blast has found itself in the unenviable position of facing the very real possibility of suffering an early exit from the 2017-18 Allan Cup Hockey season. The number of one and two goal losses, especially in December and January, tells the frustrating story. It’s like a piano ever so slightly out of tune—you can play as well as you like, it still won’t sound right. Something had to happen.

A coaching change was made in late January but maybe a little too late. Peter Crosby was out and forward Jason Pitton became the team’s playing coach, with general manager Darren Watson as bench coach.

Then, at exactly the wrong time, the other leg was kicked out from under them when starting goalie Brett Leggat was suspended for a seven games, right at the most critical point in the Blast schedule.

A dispute over a goal in Stoney Creek escalated to the point where Leggat, normally a very easy going and calm guy, went off the rails. During the heat of the moment Leggat uttered something to the referee that was serious enough for a seven game suspension, which he apologized for and did not appeal.

Poor timing has added yet another hurdle. Brantford recently released longtime netminder Anthony Marshall, who promptly signed with the Dundas Real McCoys.

“Tyler Lewis is our go-to guy right now,” Watson said of his 22-year-old back-up. “I spoke to him at practice and he’s excited and eager for this opportunity.”

Friday night’s game at the Brantford Civic Centre underscored the problems the Blast is playing through.

The Whitby Dunlops defeated the Blast, once again by a one goal margin, by the score of 7-6 at the Brantford Civic Centre.

Whitby took an early period 3-0 lead, but young Taylor shook it off and stood tall the rest of the period while Mark Taylor, Derek Medeiros and Charles Stephens eraced the Dunlops’ lead.

Whitby added two more in the second period to take a 5-3 lead and pushed that to 7-3. If the Blast can find a take-away from the loss it is how close they came to a last minutes rally, all the way back.

Chris Rebernik scored a short-hander from Cam Sault and Mark Taylor at 17:25. Joel Prpic scored a Blast powerplay goal at 19:00 and Charlie Stephens scored on a Brantford penalty shot with 15 seconds left, but could not find the tying goal.

Friday Feb. 2, Anthony Marshall will face his former team wearing a Dundas Real McCoys uniform at the Brantford Civic Centre, at 7:30 p.m.

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