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Blades Lead Best-of-Seven Series Two Games to None

BUFFALO, NY- MARCH 10: Luc Modry #12 of the Oakville Blades is hauled to the ice during an altercation during the second period at the LECOM Harborcenter on March 10, 2024 in New York, USA (Photo by Tim Bates / OJHL Images)

By Ty Brooks

 

March 10th vs. Buffalo Jr. Sabres

Blades Top Players:

Junkyard Dog: Johnston 2G

Fire Extinguisher: Akimov 2G, 1A

Tyrrell 1G, 3A

Clarke 4A

Bonsteel 1G, 2A

McCarthy 39/40 SVS .975 SV%

 

 

Over 20 blonde heads piled into the LECOM Harborcenter on March 10th in Buffalo to attempt to follow up on a stunning first performance in Oakville. The biggest question mark remaining after the Blades took a huge 6-2 win on the opening night of the series was to see if that production could be matched on the road.

 

 

Question answered.

If for some reason you haven’t already found out, the Blades made tidy work of the Jr. Sabres while on the road, winning 6-1 this time. It was much the same as the first game, but with a couple notable differences, including the physicality and shot totals. Let’s start with the physicality, which seems to have increased tenfold overnight. With sucker punches, unwarranted slashes, and even getting clotheslined while skating over to the team after scoring, the team went through some abuse in this one. Luckily for the Blades, their powerplay just can’t stop scoring, and with the penalties that got called, came power plays. Of the 4 power plays the Blades saw, they scored on *checks notes*… All of them. That’s right, 100% power-play efficiency. Granted, it’s a small sample size, but the Blades are now at 6/9, or 66.6%, on the powerplay so far in this series, which are incredible numbers.

While there is a lot going on right now, there is still reason to be careful. The Blades were outshot by a margin of 40-33 (18 fewer shots than the previous game) despite their power plays, and they were less disciplined than the Jr. Sabres, conceding five power plays to Buffalo. The Jr. Sabres have a roughly 20% power play efficiency in the regular season and are likely to score a few on the powerplay at some point soon. Luckily for Oakville, Gavin McCarthy is in the net and has been the backbone of these two wins. He’s been stellar at even strength and on the power play and is undoubtedly the reason this team is performing so well defensively. We’ll keep an eye on this storyline to see if Oakville can continue the exceptional penalty killing.

Here’s a scoring recap from game two:

 

 

1st period

G: Akimov (1); A: Tyrell (3); Bonsteel (3) (PP) (7:43)

G: Johnston (1); A: Clarke (1); Akimov (1) (19:25)

2nd period

G: Bonsteel (1); A: Tyrrell (4); Clarke (2) (PP) (0:34)

G: Akimov (2); A: Tyrell (5); Bonsteel (4) (PP) (6:01)

3rd period

G: Tyrrell (2); A: Donohoe (4); Clarke (3) (PP) (12:42)

G: Johnston (2); A: Crisp (2); Clarke (4) (EN) (18:56)

 

 

The Play of the Night goes to the second goal of the game, which came from Luke Johnston, assisted by Sean Clarke and Gleb Akimov. It was a beautiful display of speed and vision that started in the defensive end. The puck was fed to Akimov at the opposing blue line, and he just tapped it quickly to co-captain Clarke, who had picked up some speed while skating into the zone. Charging in along the boards with the puck, he skated below the goal line and slipped a backhand pass under two defenders to find Johnston backdoor. Buffalo’s goalie was already set, but it didn’t matter because Johnston fired it clean above his shoulder for the game-winning goal. This was also the only even-strength goal Oakville scored in this contest. Displaying quick thinking, speed, vision, and an ability to layer offence, this goal earns Play of the Night.

As for the next game, it will take place tonight, Tuesday, March 12th, at 7:00 PM, back at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex. It’s Blades Alumni Night and will feature several notable Blades alumni players and some good playoff hockey. Until then, here are some notes on what to expect in the upcoming game.

Oakville iced the exact same lineup in the 1st and 2nd games of the playoffs, and it would be bold to assume that they’re going to change it now unless something significant happens. With the top lines and power play unit clicking this well, look for those veterans to get plenty of ice time to keep pushing this series in favour of Oakville. You can also bank on McCarthy being in net once again in the next contest, due to his superb performances in the last two. Buffalo isn’t just going to give up, so get ready for some gritty and high-flying hockey.