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A Huge Win in the Battle of Burloak to Cap off a Tough Week

BRANTFORD, ON - FEBRUARY 4: Goaltender Gavin McCarthy #74 of the Oakville Blades during a stoppage in play in the third period at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre on February 4, 2024 in Ontario, Canada (Photo by Michelle Malvaso / OJHL Images)

By Ty Brooks

A busy week for the Blades:

Over the past 7 days, the Blades have played 4 games, including their only 2 home games of the month. The strength of the opposing teams was mixed, just as the results of these four matchups showed. On another impressive note, the February 17th game against Stouffville was attended by more than 1,500 fans, making it the third time this season the attendance at Sixteen Mile SC has been over 1,500! The Blades would like to thank the Oakville Rangers Hockey Club for making that happen.

 

Feb. 13th vs. Milton Menace

 

Blades Top Players:

McCarthy 43/48 SVS .896SV%

 

Typically, even with losses, it’s not too difficult to try and find a positive note in the game. Something of a redeeming quality that, even with a loss, can be looked at as a positive for the team. In this case, it’s a little more difficult.

 

The Blades managed only 27 shots on net, while the Menace piled up 48. That’s a 21-shot difference, which is totally unacceptable. The team took 10 penalties, including 3 separate players getting a major + game misconduct for fighting, which is not great. Part of that led to two Blades and two Menace having to serve two game suspensions for 2nd and 3rd fights in a stoppage.

 

The final score was 5-0. No excuses; the team needs to come back stronger.

Feb. 15th at Caledon Admirals

Blades Top Players:

Tyrell 1G

Donohoe 1G

 

Just two days after dropping the contest to Milton, it was important that the team had a strong bounceback game to get back into the win column. While Oakville played a much stronger game, they weren’t exactly able to grab the result they were hoping for.

 

An overall better game was played during the unusual Thursday puck drop. More shots were fired, the team was more disciplined, and most importantly, more goals were scored. After letting in a shorthanded goal earlier in the period, Noah Tyrell was ready to make sure that the game wasn’t about to slip out of reach right away. After some nice give-and-go play between Modry, Clarke, and Tyrrell, the big winger found empty ice in the high slot and didn’t miss his chance. While it was a great tying goal, the Admirals would score again just before the period ended to take back the lead. Despite the two goals against, the Blades led in shots (15-10) and would expand greatly on this lead throughout the game.

 

The Blades tried to get going in the second so that they could tie this one up quickly, but the 13 shots on net were no match for the Admiral’s goaltender, who saved them all. The defensemen on the squad also worked hard, limiting the Admirals to only 5 shots during the whole 20 minutes, making it easy work for Christensen.

 

At 7:33 in the 3rd period, Donohoe would get us the tying goal we’d been waiting for. It was a lucky bounce that allowed him to pick it up along the wing while on the rush, but sometimes all you need is one lucky bounce, and Donohoe cashed in. He beat the goalie clean under the glove and forced us into overtime at the Mayfield Recreation Complex.

 

Oakville put together 43 shots in regulation to Caledon’s 21, and that was a trend that continued in overtime. The first OT period ended with four good chances for Oakville and none for Caledon.

 

Next up was 3-on-3 overtime, where the game would end even if there was no goal by the end. Although it got close to finishing, Caledon would score on just their second shot of either overtime period after a Blades player lost his stick and was unable to defend properly during the ensuing 2-on-1.

 

The Blades still pick up a point.

 

Feb. 17th vs. Stouffville Spirit

Blades Top Players:

McCarthy 30/33 .909 SV%

Belanger 1G

Taylor 1A

 

It was a loud night on February 17th as over 1500 fans filled up the seats at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex to watch an inter-conference matchup be played. When the Blades scored, you could hear the difference that such a large number of fans made.

 

While the Blades managed plenty of offense, they once again ran into a hot goaltender who turned away 50 of the shots that the Blades fired at him. The first two periods were played in a pretty good push-pull type game that saw both teams getting chances. The only big separator was that Stouffville slid two past the line, while Oakville saw a goose egg in that column still. The team needed a big push in the third, and that’s exactly what they came out and did.

 

A whopping 27 shots were pelted at the Spirit net from every angle that you can imagine, all this while only allowing 7 against. The team got rewarded at 10:20 when Aidan Taylor sacrificed his body in the neutral zone to make a great pass to the streaking Kenny Belanger, who flew into the zone. It was actually a 2-on-1 at this point, but you could tell Belanger had no intention of passing and wired a low blocker as the massive home crowd erupted in cheer. It was an electric goal. It was also his team-leading 28th goal of the season.

The hunt for the all-important next goal was on, but it was a goal that would go to Stouffville. Even with constant and strong pressure, Oakville couldn’t seal the deal and would go home wishing they had gotten that one.

 

Feb. 19th @ Burlington Cougars

Blades Top Players:

McCarthy 39/42 SVS .929 SV%

Crisp 1G, 1A

Churchill 1G

 

The last game of this heavy week was on Family Day against bitter rivals in the Burlington Cougars, who sat very close to Oakville in the conference standings, making this game all the more important. After a couple less-than-ideal outings, it was difficult to know what to expect with this team, but they put some of the worries to rest pretty quickly at the Central Recreation Centre.

 

Co-captain Sean Clarke quickly came to the aid of his team after getting the puck at the red line and skated quickly into the offensive end on a 2-on-2 with Gleb Akimov. Interestingly, both defenders magnetized to Clarke, leaving Akimov open, but it didn’t matter to Clarke. A quick cut and shot, and before the goaltender knew it, the puck had gone in and out of the twine on a very well-placed shot. The team was able to skate into the intermission with a solid 1-0 lead, despite being outshot severely.

 

Both teams exploded with shots and goals in the second period, making it super entertaining. Oakville managed to get the first two goals of the 2nd period off two similar plays where the players did a good job of containing the opposition in their breakout attempts. Churchill scored the first off a tap-in with assists to Crisp and Kyle Kussmann, while Tyrrell scraped up a rebound just two minutes later with assists from Donohoe and Belanger. Just like that, in just over five minutes, the Blades were up 3-0. Another 10 minutes later, the team picked up a lucky bounce, and Akimov was credited with his 20th goal of the season.

 

Even with all the goals, the Blades conceded two themselves and headed off after 40 minutes with a 4-2 lead.

 

That lead would hang on for over 17 minutes into the third period before the Cougars tallied one with the extra-attacker and started to try and mount a comeback. Fortunately, the Blades fought off the waves of shots, and Jacob Crisp was rewarded with a nice empty net goal with 4 seconds to go to seal the game off.

 

5-3 win!

 

Let’s keep it up!

The Blades will look to build off their strong win in Burlington and carry some momentum over to their upcoming games. Despite the short month, there are still 4 more games to be played in February, including 3 in a row on the 23rd, 24th, and 25th. All of those games are away games and will be played in Niagara Falls, Mississauga, and Leamington, so lots of traveling is coming up. If you’re down for a trip, come out and cheer on your Blades!