Blades Are Back from Winter Break!

OAKVILLE, ON - JANUARY 6: Luke Johnston #71 of the Oakville Blades makes the hit on Cade Bell #12 of the Leamington Flyers during the second period at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex on January 6, 2024 in Ontario, Canada (Photo by Tim Bates / OJHL Images)

By Ty Brooks

Welcome back fans!

After some time off from hockey for everyone to enjoy the holiday season, the Blades were in action for the first time in 2024! The excitement for the game between the Blades and the Flyers was obvious, garnering a whopping 712 fans at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex for ‘80s Night! As it would turn out, the fans were in for one heck of a game.

 

Jan. 6th vs Leamington Flyers

Blades Top Players:

Donohoe 2G

Churchill 1G, 1A

Smallegange 2A

This was to be the 3rd meeting for two of the stronger teams in the West Conference of the OJHL. Both previous games were very close, finishing as a 3-2W for Oakville and almost exactly a month before this game the two teams put up a 2-2T. Fans were expecting a close game and that’s exactly what they were treated to.

 

The game was fast-paced and both teams really got into it physically as soon as the game started. Plenty of penalties were called to both sides, and the first goal would come on the special teams, just not the power play. At 14:30 of the 1st period, the Blades were called for tripping, and just under a minute later they scored a goal. It was a smart play from Jacob Crisp to pressure the defenceman and use his stick to poke the puck out of the defensive end and out of the grasp of the Flyers player too. From there, he won a foot race, and along with him came big Jack Churchill powering down the wing. A nice pass from Crisp to Churchill led to a 1-on-1 with the netminder and Churchill did not miss.

 

Oakville would give up a goal later in the 1st, but entered the 2nd ready to go. Scoring at just 1:20 into the period, Max Donohoe was hard at work in front of the net, and it paid off as the alternate captain picked up the lead for the Blades early on. Seeing as shots were dead even at 15-15, you could see how even the period was. Both squads had chances, but the goaltenders were in control of the period overall until the Blades gave one up just after their slashing penalty ended at 17:39. Even giving up another one, it was still 2-2, and shots were fairly equal at 27-24 in favour of Leamington. It was hockey as usual between the two teams, and it was good hockey.

 

All of those close chances we saw almost go in during the 1st and 2nd periods finally started going in all throughout the 3rd. The shots stayed about the same, but the penalties and consequently the goals shot through the roof. A total of 6 goals were scored in the 3rd period between the two teams in the final 20 minutes. To put that into perspective, the combined teams had not scored 6 goals in either of their two previous matchups this year!

 

The scoring was opened by Leamington, but Oakville answered back quickly as we saw Conor Thacker score his first goal of the season on a monster slap shot that the goalie had no chance of stopping. It was his first, but not only goal this season (stay tuned for that) and it came at a very good time.

 

The good spirit didn’t last for long though, as a tripping and slashing penalty led to back-to-back power plays for Leamington, and they converted on both. Oakville’s top player on the night was Max Donohoe and he would briefly reignite hope into the hearts of the Oakville faithful with a beautiful power play snipe at 11:47. Despite the valiant effort, the Flyers would seal it off at 14:34 with another goal to give us our final score 6-4 Leamington.

 

Jan. 7th @ Trenton Golden Hawks

Blades Top Players:

Crisp 1G, 1A

Thacker 1G

Taylor 1G

 

It’s not often that Oakville plays a game that they’d like to forget, this is probably one of them. Trenton is a very strong team. They went to the OJHL finals last year and sit with a 30-7-0-1 record this year as the top team in the Eastern Conference. Coming off of a 13-1W over Aurora, they were red hot.

 

No game is ever a waste, and neither was this one at the Duncan Memorial Gardens. Seeing as the Trenton Golden Hawks have assembled such a strong squad, there’s a decent chance that these two teams will see each other in the Centennial Cup. Oakville will surely use this game as a wakeup call as to just how fast and strong the players will be at the biggest stage in Canadian Junior A hockey, the Centennial Cup.

 

The final score was 9-3 for Trenton, and the Blades were struggling to stay out of the box as well.

 

The first goal of the game for Oakville was from none other than the man who scored his first of the season just a night before, Conor Thacker, who surely is enjoying his recent streak of goal scoring. He once again blasted a powerful slap shot that was just too much to handle and found the twine. This goal would give assists to Johnston and Crips as well as cut the Golden Hawks lead to just one goal.

 

In the following period, at 7:24, Crisp would put his name in the goal column on the power play. He scored with an absolute missile that beat the goalie clean after the alternate captain hammered it from the left circle.

 

The Blades final goal would find the back of the net later in the 3rd frame with a nice deflection from Aidan Taylor off of a Marco Costante point shot.

 

It was not the result that the team was hoping for, but now they know the standard, and they’ll know what’s expected of them going forward.  On another positive note, the Trenton goaltender, Spry, is a tricky keeper to solve. He carries a 13-1 record and a .923SV%, but in this contest, the Blades put 3 past him on 28 shots. That’s the equivalent of a .893SV% and all of the goals went in through similar fashion, heavy shots from far with plenty of traffic in front of the net. Who knows, maybe that information could serve Oakville well somewhere down the line.

 

No points this weekend for the Blades.

 

Matchups ahead:

No weekend games this week, but you can catch the team playing back at home on Tuesday, January 9th against St. Michael’s at 7:00 PM and at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in Brantford on Thursday, January 11th against the 99ers at 7:30 PM. This is the only time this year that the Blades and the Buzzers play each other so make sure you don’t miss it! Both teams are loaded with talent and this matchup always provides some fireworks because these two squads don’t like each other. See you all there! Go Blades Go!