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Buffalo Hangs On to Send It Back to Buffalo on Sunday

OAKVILLE, ON - MARCH 15: Tyler Isherwood #9 of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres jumps to avoid the puck during the second period at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex on March 15, 2024 in Ontario, Canada (Photo by Tim Bates / OJHL Images)

By Ty Brooks

 

March 15th vs. Buffalo Jr. Sabres


Blades Top Players:

McCarthy 33/36 SVS .917 SV%

Belanger 1G, 1A

Donohoe 2A

Tyrrell 1G

 

 

The last game in Buffalo was the first time the Blades had lost since February 17. Oakville carried an 8-game winning streak into the playoffs, extending it to 11. Buffalo ended it at 11 on Wednesday. Losing a streak that big in overtime and especially in a possible elimination game is tough, and you could see it got to the team when they skated out for the first period of game 5 at home. The Blades were outshot 21-6 in the first 20 minutes of the game and conceded two goals despite several individual efforts from McCarthy in the net. Taking a couple of early penalties did not help the slow start. It slowed their momentum. A lacklustre start to the period and game would ultimately be the downfall of the team, despite some great efforts to catch up in the 2nd and 3rd periods.

 

While the end results for the last 40 minutes favoured the Blades, it once again did not start well. The Buffalo Jr. Sabres scored once again to now extend their lead to 3-0 just 17 seconds into the period, which is not good. The first bright spot in the scoring department would come at 8:09 of the 2nd period, a goal by the Blades leading scorer in these playoffs, Noah Tyrrell. The forward from Chicago registered his 4th goal and 10th point here, good for 3rd in all of the OJHL in terms of playoff scoring. The real reason this goal happened was great work along the boards by Kenny Belanger, who beat out two Jr. Sabres players along the wall and slid the puck to Max Donohoe. He easily found Tyrrell alone across the ice for the first goal of the game from the Oakville side. The Blades more than doubled Buffalo’s shots that period (15-7), but wouldn’t score again until the 3rd period.

 

In the third and final frame, Belanger registered his second point of the game with a goal this time. It was an easy tap-in, served up to him on a silver platter by Max Donohoe as a reward for all of his hard work in the game. Now 3-2 with just 5 minutes left in the game, it was crunch time, and the team even pulled the goaltender with just under 2 minutes to go. A shot just missed with just two seconds remaining. It was to no result, however, and the Blades dropped two in a row.

 

Game 5 scoring summary:

2nd period

G: Tyrrell (4); A: Donohoe (5); Belanger (2) (8:09)

 

3rd period

G: Belanger (1) A: Donohoe (6), Bonsteel (7) (14:28)

It was not difficult to choose the Play of the Night, or rather, Plays of the Night, for this game. McCarthy’s first-period performance was particularly impressive. Making 19 saves in the first 20 minutes, he was as busy as he’s been all playoffs. This game could have very easily gotten out of reach before it really started, but McCarthy kept this game within reach for his team the whole time. He made some monstrous saves to keep it a tight contest, and it’s impossible to imagine the Blades would be leading the series right now without him.

 

That lead is still intact, as mentioned, at 3-2. This is a best-of-7 series, meaning that the Blades still have the opportunity to eliminate Buffalo in the upcoming game. That game will take place on Sunday, March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day) at 7:00 PM at the LECOM Harborcenter. Should the Blades lose, they will come back to the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex on Tuesday for game 7, but let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point. The team will need a strong and complete game from the very start to the end, as this team is showing us they won’t go out easy, so make the trip and make some noise or tune in on FloHockey to catch the action, and Go Blades Go!