By Ty Brooks
A 3-in-3 this past weekend:
After a brief twenty day pause in play, Oakville made a swift return to OJHL action with 3 games in a row. There was certainly some rust to shake off, but the Blades returned to top form quickly and were able to piece together encouraging results during their 3-day run. The first two games were played at home at the beloved Sixteen Mile Sports Complex, November 17th vs. Brantford and November 18th vs Niagara Falls before making the trip out to Wellington for the final game on the 19th of November.
Nov. 17th vs. Brantford 99ers
Blades Top Players:
Akimov 1G, 1A
Donohoe 1G, 1A
The team made their official return to action at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex when they hosted the 99ers for the 2nd occasion in this still young 2023-2024 season. While the team was coming back from an extended break, it didn’t take much for the squad to look like the top team we saw just a couple weeks prior. Due to the delay in the Remembrance Day game, the ceremonial event took place in the Blades resumption of play on the 17th, as the team made sure not to simply move past such an important event. Members of 540 Golden Hawks Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron in Oakville formed an on-ice flag party and we had Master Corporal Brent Tucker, CD drop the puck for the ceremonial face-off. We thank the air cadets for their time and thank MCpl Tucker for his service to our country.
We didn’t see the normal high scoring game from Oakville in this match up; in fact, it was three players who combined for both goals. Max Donohoe made a strong return to the line-up after dealing with an injury that kept him out for just under a month. You’ll be hearing his name a lot over the next few game summaries, but in this one, he scored the Blades first tally of the game.
At 11:39 of the first period, Donohoe redirected the shot point from Costante and tied our game up at one. Donohoe also played the set-up man role, when he dished the puck to Costante, who made a beautiful pass. As he saw Akimov blasting up the right wing, he banked it off the boards and it bounced ever so perfectly on the tape of #9 who now had a chance to break away. As Akimov closed in on the net, he was tripped by a 99ers defenceman! It didn’t matter, however, because while falling he snuck the puck top shelf over the goalie’s glove. From 7:00 of the second period, the Blades had managed their first lead of the game.
Even while the Blades continued to pepper what ended up being 44 shots in total, the team would end up in the losing column. With the final score being 3-2, it just wasn’t the night for the squad. The team had no time to worry about the loss, they had gotten their feet back under them, and were onto the next one.
Nov. 18th vs. Niagara Falls Canucks
Blades Top Players:
Akimov 2G, 1A
Donohoe 1G, 1A
This was our Gift of Giving Back food drive game. Players, staff and fans brought non-perishable food items in aiding the Gift in their mission of “Kids feeding kids”. Denis Noonan, a board member with the Gift of Giving Back, was on hand to drop the puck for the ceremonial face-off. Find more information about the Gift of Giving Back, here.
The Blades may have struggled to get everything clicking in their first game back, but that was not the case for the second game of the 3-in-3. A huge dominating performance saw the team amass 62 shots, 3 PP goals and a win 4-1 while limiting the Canucks to 18 shots.
Leading the way were your veteran standouts: Akimov, Clarke and Donohoe who combined to gather 8 points on the night. Those three, plus an assist from Bonsteel, showed home fans why the team’s power play is clicking at such a high pace this year. Throughout the course of 60 minutes, that trio collected three goals on the man advantage with Akimov scoring two (1st 16:04 and 3rd 2:23) and Donohoe (2nd 16:51) showing off some crazy chemistry together. The power play was sitting at 26% before this contest, safe to say it will be a little higher now.
A new addition to the team that the fans haven’t had the chance to get much of a glimpse of yet is big center Jeriah Shantz. Shantz, who has a vast amount of both OJHL playoff and Centennial Cup experience, made his Blades debut in the previous night’s Brantford match. It didn’t take him long to make an impact as he scored in just his second game of the year after coming back from an injury that kept him out of the line up. It may have been a bit of a lucky bounce, but it was well deserved for the reliable center who is sure to catch the eyes of more fans as the season progresses.
Gavin McCarthy skates away from an easier night with a solid 17 saves to aid the win.
Nov. 19th @ Wellington Dukes
Blades Top Players:
Johnston 1G, 1A
Akimov 1G, 1A
For the last game of the 3-in-3, the team matched up against statistically the strongest team of the three squads from the weekend. A Sunday afternoon game in Wellington, was a tough way to play your third game in as many days, but the team was ready for the challenge. With possibly a little help from an extended layoff, the team didn’t look very fatigued and performed well.
This game was intense, tight checking, strong defense, strong goaltending and a world of penalties. Each team registered 11 (!) infractions, resulting in one of the most penalized games in recent memory. Seeing as most of the game was not played at even strength, it makes sense that 3 of the 4 goals in this one were a result of the man advantage.
The lone even strength goal came at 8:32 of the second period when Aidan Taylor laid a beauty of a saucer pass on the tape of Luke Johnston who was long gone and scored. The game was very entertaining but most of the action took place in the middle frame where 26 out of the total 50 shots in the game were taken and 3 goals were scored. Also scoring for Oakville in the period was, you guessed it, Gleb Akimov who is the star of this 3-in-3. A nice empty net goal from Churchill sealed the deal late in the third and there you have, Blades topple the Dukes to finish off an exciting three days to be a Blades fan.
Next in line:
Your Oakville Blades are back in action sooner than you think! They’re coming back to Sixteen Mile tonight, Wednesday, November 22nd to play the North York Rangers! Regular 7:00 PM start for that one. Following that, the team will go on to play two road games against the Toronto Patriots (Sat., 25th at 7:30 PM) and the Pickering Panthers (Sun., 26th at 7:30 PM). Check out the schedule for more details, and if you can, come follow your Blades on the road! Go Blades Go!