Adversity Strikes Oakville

OAKVILLE, ON - OCTOBER 20: Luke Johnston #71 of the Oakville Blades anticipates the puck in the crease in front of goaltender Glen Crandall #72 of the Milton Menace and #20 Max Donohoe of the Oakville Blades during the second period at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex on October 20, 2023 in Ontario, Canada (Photo by Michelle Malvaso / OJHL Images)

By Ty Brooks

This past weekend:

Every team goes through ups and downs during a season. While the Blades have certainly gotten off to a nice start, adversity will always find its way into our great game of hockey. In a hard-fought weekend in Oakville, the team must surely feel like this upcoming weekend will need to be better.

 

Oct. 20th vs. Milton Menace

Blades Top Players:

McCarthy 44/48 SVS .917 SV%

McKenna 1G

Johnston 2A

 

It’s always intense when these two teams face off and with 7 combined goals, 11 penalties handed out and almost 100 total shots, this game was no different. The attendance at this game was many, likely due to the proximity of the two teams and the strength of this rivalry, we saw close to 650 people line the stands. Two of the top teams in the Western Conference of the OJHL squared off and put on a show at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex.

 

Oakville didn’t have a fantastic start in this one, conceding the first goal and only registering 12 shots to Milton’s 22 in the 1st period. They also gave up the only goal in the 1st period and would leave the frame down by 1 at home. It took until the 2nd period, down 2-0 now, for the Blades to score. In a period where they were out chancing the Menace quite well, the Blades got on the board with the only power play marker of the game. Who other than red hot rookie Matthew Indovina to get us on the board? He tallied a nice rebound goal with assists going to Donohoe and Johnston and Oakville was right back in it. Only 2 minutes later, thanks to some really nice zone entry and puck carrying work from Luke Johnston, he was able to draw the defence to himself and dish a pass off to Taylor who, flying in through the slot, slammed home the one timer to tie us up!

 

After this pair of goals, the game would tighten up and shots in the 3rd period were low for both teams. We would have to wait until 15:38 into the period before we saw a goal. It came at the hands of Cole McKenna who found himself with some wide open space on the rush. He ripped a wrist shot that just barely trickled between the glove and the pad of the Menace goaltender. Blades were in the lead for the first time in the game! Unfortunately, it would not last and in the dying minutes of the contest, Milton would score twice to take this game by a score of 4-3. It was a close matchup; your Blades will be back better next time.

 

Oct. 21st vs. Niagara Falls Canucks

Blades Top Players:

Johnston 1G, 1A

Taylor 1G, 1A

Christensen 23/25 SVS .920 SV%

 

One of two recently promoted GOJHL teams, the Niagara Falls Canucks have had their ups and downs this season. Despite the obvious adjustment for the team, they’ve managed to collect some good wins this year, making this an interesting first time matchup for Oakville. Similar to the game against the Leamington Flyers just a couple of matches prior, it was a tight game to the very end.

Unlike the day before, the Blades struck first in this one. Just 7:31 into the 1st, Jack Churchill managed to clean up play in front of the net for a greasy goal off of a strong shot from McKenna. That’s two games with a power play goal from the Blades, continuing showing off an extremely improved power play in comparison to last year. After this goal, in a turn for the worst, we saw the Blades let in 2 goals before the period ended. Then, hoping to come back stronger in the 2nd, the Blades were shocked when the Canucks scored only 31 seconds in the middle frame. A goalie change and three unanswered goals seemed to zap the energy out of the team, but the game was far from over. On the very next play, off of a routine dump and chase, the Niagara Falls goaltender lost the puck along the boards and it slid perfectly in front of the wide open net! Blades speedster Johnston came flying in and tallied his team-leading 8th goal of the season! Suddenly, it’s a 3-2 game and the Blades got their energy back.

 

The Canucks did a nice job of responding, however, and shut down this momentum quickly with a goal of their own to return the 2 goal lead. Being limited to 8 shots for the rest of the period, the Blades did not have a very successful period, except for in net where Mikkel Christensen would make close to 20 saves.

 

Another quick tally in the opening minutes of the last regulation period put the Blades into a 3 goal deficit, but this team wasn’t going anywhere without a fight. With 17 shots in the 3rd, Scott McCrory’s squad was pushing hard to get back into the game. With just over 4 minutes gone into the 3rd period, Churchill generated a nice turnover in his own end and sprung Aidan Taylor in the neutral zone. With an incredible solo effort, #13 danced around the Canucks defender and slid the puck short side for a beautiful goal! A beauty shorthanded and the Oakville faithful had hope in this game once again.

 

This time on the man advantage, only 3 minutes later, the team just needed a goal, and that’s what they got. Cleaning up the trash in front was Gleb Akimov and now all of a sudden this is a one goal game with 12 minutes to go!

 

Even while holding the away team to 6 shots, and recording 17 of their own, it was not enough to walk away from the game with 2 points. Canucks take this one, and the Blades suffer 3 losses in a row for the first time this season.

Where to next?

Your Oakville Blades will play two back-to-back nights, once again at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex with games against the Mississauga Chargers and the Toronto Patriots. With both of those teams being lower in the Western Conference standings than the Blades, look for a strong weekend as the team tries to get back on track. They will be Friday and Saturday games at the usual 7:00PM start time. Saturday is the “Spooktacular Halloween Costume Contest”! Prizes will be awarded for best kid costume and best adult costume. Come out and support the boys!