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Blades Go For a Ride in the Final Week of January

NIAGARA FALLS, ON- JANUARY 26: The Oakville Blades celebrate the goal during the first period at the Gale Centre Arena on January 26, 2024 in Ontario, Canada.(Photo by Larry Mathewson / OJHL Images)

By Jade Wiseman

Edited by Ty Brooks

 

It was a roller-coaster of a week for the Blades as they dominated the Buffalo Jr. Sabres, fell to an opponent lower in the standings in Niagara Falls and returned home for a 1-0 loss to the top team in the league, the Collingwood Blues.

 

 

@ Buffalo, Jan. 24

Top Blades Players

Belanger 2G 1A

Johnston 3A

Tyrrell 1G 1A

McCarthy .949 SV%

 

 

When the Blades arrived at LECOM Harborcenter in Buffalo, NY they were informed that the game would not be played in the main rink. This was due to roof leaks from the previous week’s snowstorms that had compromised ice conditions. Instead they started the game in the secondary rink.

Over halfway into the first period, Kenny Belanger would score on a redirect from an Eric Bonsteel shot from the point. Luke Johnston gets the secondary assist on the goal to give the Blades the 1-0 lead. Despite 14 shots to their 10, Oakville would not score again until the 2nd period.

The 2nd period saw a shot total that would be almost the reverse of the first with Buffalo managing 15 on net, but co-captain Gavin McCarthy stood tall. Noah Tyrrell would add is 22nd of the season off of a one-timer on a pass from below the goal line from Belanger. The two new additions coming together nicely to push this team in the right direction.Johnston once again finds himself picking up an assist.

Prior to puck drop in the 3rd, an ice issue was noticed near the Blades net and yet another roof leak was discovered. After much discussion, it was determined that the ice issues in the main rink were resolved. It was enough to safely change play to the main surface and the 3rd period was delayed while everyone set up that rink for play.

Once it started, Gleb Akimov barely wasted any time, putting another on the board before the broadcasting crew even had a chance to get back on air. That goal occurred at 1:53 of the period and Jackson Rutherford picked up his second  point of the season with the 2nd assist going to Max Donohoe.

A little more than two minutes later, Belanger would add his 2nd of the game. He scored it cutting across the crease and putting it past the sliding goaltender. Tyrrell and Johnston would add another assist each on the play. It would take until over 6 minutes into the 3rd for Buffalo to crack their goose egg in the score box.Soon after on the power play, Jack Churchill would battle for the puck and pop on the rebound off of a shot in the slot from Jeriah Shantz. Marco Costante would also pick up a point on the marker. Buffalo picked up their 2nd goal at 17:36 and it would be their last, despite pulling their goaltender for almost two minutes. Bonsteel potted the empty netter in Buffalo, the 2nd of the season for him, off a zone-clearing pass from Kyle Kussmann. Goaltender Gavin McCarthy also picked up an assist on the play.

 

 

@ Niagara Falls, Jan. 26

Blades Top Players

Akimov 1G

Indovina 1G

Shantz 1G

Costante 2A

 

 

This game was a lot of back-and-forth which did not benefit the Blades. Blades had split the two previous meetings and this was the first meeting in Niagara Falls for the two teams. Play was fairly even in the first but Niagara Falls would score first at 13:14. Jeriah Shantz would score his 6th of the season on the power play, off of a one-timer as he drove the net and Noah Tyrrell sent him the hard pass from the point. Marco Costante would also draw an assist. The first period would end in a 1-1 tie. Oakville outshot the Canucks 11-8.

The Blades looked ready to take the game in the first half of the period. Gleb Akimov scored his 19th of the season off of a shot in the high-slot. Assists on the play for Max Donohoe and another for Costante had the Blades takingtheir first lead of the game. Less than seven minutes later, the Canucks would even it back up and we would go into the 2nd intermission tied at two.

Blades showed strong early in the 3rd with rookie forward Matthew Indovina scoring his 13th of the season as he continues leading all Blades rookies in the category. Indovina battled for the puck in the slot off of the rebound from Kyle Kussmann’s shot and put it upstairs for the Blades second lead of the game. Luc Modry would also get an assist on the play. That would end the scoring for the Blades though.Just under 3 minutes later, the Canucks leading scorer would add his 2nd of the game to tie it back up. At 17:01 on their power play Niagara Falls would take the lead back once and for all. Blades would pull the goaltender with a little over two minutes to go but Niagara Falls would pot an empty netter with under 30 seconds left and the final score would be 5-3.

Oakville would need to regroup quickly as they would host the top team in the OJHL the next night, the Collingwood Blues.

 

 

Vs. Collingwood Blues, Jan. 27

Top Blades Player

McCarthy .984 SV%

 

 

This matchup is always a battle and this one certainly was much of the same. Two of the top goaltenders in the OJHL going head-to-head and Oakville had managed to pull out wins in the two previous meetings. Collingwood has only lost a combined 3 games to other teams in regulation this season and one loss in overtime. Oakville is the only team to have beaten them twice this season. Every meeting of these two clubs have been a one goal game this season, and this was no exception. The nearly 500 fans in attendance were in for some great entertainment.

The first period was a lot of back-and-forth with Collingwood putting 18 shots on Gavin McCarthy and Oakville putting 13 on the Oakville native, Noah Pak at the other end. The goaltenders would win the opening frame, ending at a score of 0-0.

In the 2nd period, it was more of the same as Oakville had 17 shots on net to Collingwood’s 21. Unfortunately, on the Blades’ power play, the puck bounced around near the blueline and the Blades could not control it. It ended up leaving the zone and created a 2-on-1 situation for which McCarthy had no chance. It ended up in the back of the Blades net.

In the 3rd period, Collingwood’s defence would shut down all the offence from the Blades resulting in only 7 shots by the home squad in the 3rd. Collingwood continued to pepper the Blades net with 23 shots but could not get another past McCarthy who made 61 saves in the game! Defence did a decent job of letting McCarthy see each shot and blocking out the majority of the good chances. Nonetheless, the Blades just couldn’t grab the 2 points in this one.

The Blades were looking for redemption last Friday, February 2 in Collingwood. More on that, soon. The club then headed to Brantford for a Sunday afternoon match at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre at 3:00 PM. Look for those recaps, soon!

Blades will play five road games before returning home for one of only 2 home games in February. That will be on Tuesday, February 13 at 2:30 PM vs. the Milton Menace. This is one of the make-up games from the municipal strike. Make sure to get there if you can and come on the road to support your Oakville Blades! Go Blades, go!