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February Starts on the Road with Thirteen Goals in Four Games

BRANTFORD, ON - FEBRUARY 4: Jacob Crisp #22, Jeriah Shantz #48 and Aidan Taylor #13 of the Oakville Blades celebrate a goal in the third period at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre on February 4, 2024 in Ontario, Canada (Photo by Michelle Malvaso / OJHL Images)

By Ty Brooks

 

Start of the road stretch

February kicked off the start of a 4 game road stint for the Blades. In fact, the Blades will only play two home games this whole month, on February 13th and 17th. All of the other 10 games will be played at visiting arenas. The Blades played these first 4 games of the month to mixed results. Take a look below to see how each individual game turned out!

 

Feb. 2nd @ Collingwood Blues

Blades Top Players:

McCarthy 36/38 SVS .947 SV%

Donohoe 1G

 

Despite some recent success stories against the top team in the OJHL (and #2 in the CJHL), the Blades did not find success once again. As has become custom, co-captain Gavin McCarthy held back the other team’s push as much as he could. With another stellar performance in front of almost 1,000 fans, when the pressure is at its highest, he seems to rise to the occasion. However, it’s difficult to win a game with just 18 shots on net, especially against a team with another top goaltender.

 

It was a close game score wise, with the top end of both teams being the main contributors. In the case of the Blades, it was Max Donohoe who scored the teams’ lone goal at 13:46 of the 3rd period. Eric Bonsteel picked up a helper and so did co-captain Sean Clarke who now sits atop the team in assists with 33.

 

While it may seem a little discouraging, it’s important to keep in mind that the season series between these two teams now sits at 2-2. The Blades have defeated this team (#2 in CJHL) twice before and with new acquisitions, could surely do it again. Despite a large shot discrepancy in this one, it is only goals that matter when 60 minutes of hockey have been played. The final score in this matchup being 2-1 is a good indication that the Blades can handle some of the best offences the CJHL has to offer.

 

Feb. 4th @ Brantford 99ers

Blades Top Players:

Taylor 2G, 2A

Shantz 1G, 2A

Crisp 1G, 2A

 

The Oakville Blades have outscored the Brantford 99ers 12-5 over their 3 meetings this season. They have won 2 of those 3 meetings and with this away game, would steadily continue the dominance of the 99ers.

 

The strong play started quickly in the 1st period, and the period would end with a whopping 22 shots from Oakville. The 22 shots also included a goal for by none other than alternate captain Jacob Crisp, who loves scoring in bunches against the Brantford 99ers. Crisp has played four games against the 99ers this season, and in those 4 games has registered 4 goals and 7 points. This beautiful breakaway goal was among the best, as he burned the defender wide and cut cross-crease before tucking the puck just under the arm of the goaltender. Two other major contributors to this game, Jeriah Shantz and Aidan Taylor, would pick up assists.

 

Brantford came out a little stronger in the 2nd, getting on the board fast to tie up the game. It would be a whole other 18 minutes, at 19:33, when co-captain Sean Clarke would bring the Blades back up by one. He built up some speed fast, and flew right around a defender and noticed a big gap had opened five-hole. Needless to say, Clarke took advantage and scored.

 

The 3rd period was where it all really broke out. Taylor (2G, 1A), Shantz (1G, 1A) and Crisp (2A) all had massive periods to close out this game. All of the Blades goals were a great representation of the good things that happen through creating turnovers and getting to the net. It just seemed as though this trio could not be stopped, and they sealed off the game when Aidan Taylor scored the final goal. It was poor puck management from Brantford, but it sprung Taylor on a free breakaway and he flew in on the goalie. The 99ers goaltender went down too early and Taylor slung it over his shoulder with ease to seal the 5-2 score in this one.

 

Feb. 7th @ Cobourg Cougars

Blades Top Players:

Costante 1G, 1A

Donohoe 1G, 1A

McCarthy 44/48 SVS .917 SV%

 

The Cobourg Community Center played host for this game, the only one of the regular season between these teams. While the goalies both played very strong games, it was still a high scoring affair.

 

The scoring was started by Cobourg in a tight first period. Despite it being a 35 shot period (OAK 18-17 COB), only two goals were scored, a testament to the strong goaltending from both sides. Oakville would respond with a goal of their own at 8:22 of the 1st period off of an absolute blast of a one-timer off the stick of Marco Costante in the high slot. Capturing both assists on the goal were mid-season trade acquisitions in Kelly Belanger (Acquired from the Soo Eagles in the NOJHL) and Noah Tyrrell (Acquired from North York Rangers in the OJHL). The Blades efforts to bolster their line-up for the Centennial Cup are paying off as these two players have combined for 20 points in 10 games since joining the team.

 

The 2nd period was the period where the Blades most controlled the game, increasing their shot totals by another 19 shots in the middle frame. On top of pushing the shot total to 37 in just 40 minutes, they responded to the Cougars scoring a goal with 2 of their own. Starting at 5:43 was when the Blades first found the twine in the period, with the goal scorer Max Donohoe tying it up at 2. Donohoe scored this goal in the exact fashion you expect him to, hard work in front of the net which eventually led him to tapping it in from in tight.

 

The Blades would later take the lead for the first time in the game when at 14:55 Sean Clarke hit his mark from the left circle on the power play. Your two previous goal scorers (Donohoe and Costante) picked up assists and the Oakville Blades left for the 2nd intermission with a 3-2 advantage.

 

The Blades had a very strong 40 minutes, and were outplaying, outshooting and outscoring the Cougars. Unfortunately, the last 20 minutes belonged to Cobourg. Keeping the Blades to just 8 shots while simultaneously scoring 3 goals across the final frame made for a 5-3 ending to this matchup. The Blades surely would like to have that one back, but the Cougars are one of the best offensive teams in the league, and they showed us why. Onto the next one.

 

Feb. 10th @ Lindsay Muskies

Blades Top Players:

Donohoe 2G, 1A

Christensen 37/40 SVS .925 SV%

Clarke 1G

 

After a 1-2 start to February, the team knew they needed this win to get back on the right track through this long streak of road games. Much like the Cobourg game a couple days prior, the Blades would only be playing the Muskies once this season and it would be at their arena (Muskies made the trip to Oakville last year). While the Blades may have liked to play without so much back-and-forth, it was an extremely entertaining game for the supporters at the Lindsay Recreation Complex.

 

The teams started off the game slowly, minimal shots and only one goal in the 1st period. The goal did not belong to Oakville, and they would exit the 1st with only 7 shots to show for it.

 

Everything changed in the 2nd, with a huge explosion of scoring for both squads. It all started 35 seconds into the period when rookie Matthew Indovina added to his already strong season by scoring his 14th goal of the season. It was an impressive goal too, as the goalie had a clear line of sight but Indovina still managed to wrist it past him.

 

Not even 3 minutes later, Max Donohoe put his name in the goal column thanks to a great snipe blocker side on the power play. Lindsay’s penalty killers relaxed too much and let the veteran walk into firing range and he let one go for his first goal of the game and third power play goal of the season.

 

Despite all the early success in the goal scoring department, the Muskies quickly bounced back with two of their own in just 6 minutes to swiftly take back the lead. The 3rd goal of the game for the Muskies was especially tough to watch as the Blades took an unnecessary penalty which led to the power play that eventually put the puck behind Christensen.

 

Oakville wasn’t about to let the Muskies walk into the intermission with the lead though. Only 2:58 was remaining when none other than the Blades leading scorer in the month of February, Max Donohoe, scored a classic Donny goal right in front of the goalie’s face. This goal puts him at 4 goals in his last 4 games played.

 

Despite the 3rd period having the most shots with 30, the goalies had everything on lockdown, with neither side wanting to give up the game winning goal in the last minutes of the game. Both squads tried and tried but it ended up being Oakville’s Christensen and Lindsay’s Fraser who decided that this game would be headed to overtime.

 

Overtime started with 4-on-4 hockey for 5 minutes, in which both teams registered one shot a piece. The teams didn’t look nervous, but looked as if they were holding back a little, because nobody wanted to be the one to make the mistake that would result in the other team scoring. It was entertaining and back-and-forth hockey, but nobody scored. Instead, the game headed to another 5 minute period of overtime, but this time it would be 3-on-3 hockey.

 

Sean Clarke was sent out for the draw, flanked by red hot Max Donohoe to his left and backed up by Marco Costante as the lone defenceman on the ice. Clarke won the draw and the boys started to fly right away. As the puck was spit out to Costante, he circled back to gain some speed followed closely by a Muskie forward. After a little time, he was running out of space and sauced a backhand far up the ice to the waiting Max Donohoe in the neutral zone. The other Muskies forward was surprised by the speed of Clarke, who was flying up the left. He received a perfectly timed pass from Donohoe right as he crossed the blue line. The lone Lindsay defender, now caught out of position, didn’t have much of a chance as #11 on Oakville breezed past him and cut across the crease before sliding the puck in on his backhand for the double  overtime winner! A highlight reel to cap off a turbulent night in Lindsay! Blades win 4-3!

 

Looking ahead

The busy schedule continues as the Blades will play 3 more games this week! Coming up on the schedule is Milton, Caledon and Stouffville, with the games happening on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The Menace and Spirit will come to the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex but these two home games will be split up by an away game against the Admirals. Tuesday at home is a makeup game from the municipal strike with a 2:30 PM start.

 

Saturday’s game against the Stouffville Spirt is almost sold out with another Oakville Rangers tournament, so email TaniaLee@OakvilleBlades.ca to reserve your tickets! This will also be a great matchup as the Blades fight for home ice in the first round of the playoffs and Stouffville is fighting for a chance to go to the postseason.

 

Lots of important points up for grabs as the season winds down, come watch some hockey and support the Blades in their mission to get wins as many as possible! Go Blades, go!