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First Round Playoff Preview

OAKVILLE, ON - SEPTEMBER 9: Luke Johnston #71 of the Oakville Blades collides with Leif Ekblad #40 of the Buffalo Jr Sabres during the second period at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex on September 9, 2023 in Ontario, Canada (Spencer Smye / OJHL Images)

By Ty Brooks

 

It’s Playoff Time!

The 2023-2024 playoffs are just hours away, and the Oakville Blades are set to meet with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres in the first round of the playoffs! Here is a quick preview so you can get an idea of what to expect from our first round.

 

Series Formatting

  • The playoffs will be played as a best-of-seven series
  • The teams will play in alternating arenas, starting in Oakville
  • All games in the series begin at 7:00 PM
  • The series winner advances to the next round, while the loser is eliminated.

 

Regular Season Play

Both teams had strong regular seasons, with Oakville (4) finishing as the higher seed than Buffalo (5). The last game of the regular season, which turned out to be a preview of the first round of the playoffs, resulted in a Blades win. This brought the season series between the two squads to 3-1 in favour of Oakville, with the Blades outscoring Buffalo 15-9 in that span. Clarke, Bonsteel, Belanger, and Akimov have been the most dangerous this season against the Jr. Sabres. They have each registered two goals and one or more assists throughout the four times these two teams have met. Gavin McCarthy has played in net for the majority of the games, going 2-0-0-1, making 102/108 saves, and carrying a .944 SV% in those games. With incredible numbers like that, we can expect that he will see the net on the first night of the series.

 

Both teams are strikingly similar in terms of team statistics, both having similar special teams numbers and carrying exactly the same season goal differential of 29. In fact, the record between the two teams is shockingly similar, with Oakville (32-20-1-3) having just one more point than Buffalo (31-20-0-5). It’s safe to say that this will be a close series.

 

What to expect

Expect the veterans and new acquisitions to show why they’re here. Some notable names have been on fire recently; look for them to try and continue with the momentum they left off with in the regular season and bring it into the playoffs. Players like trade acquisition Noah Tyrrell, who has 2G and 4A in his last 4 games played, or longtime Blades player Jacob Crisp, who is riding an 8-game point streak to end the season. Gavin McCarthy is also red hot, not just against the Jr. Sabres. He’s currently on a six-game winning streak himself, never recording lower than a .905 SV% during that span. The veteran netminder finished the season with a .928 SV%, which is 2nd in the league among goaltenders with 20+ games, and 23 wins, which is 4th in the league. Look for Gavin McCarthy to be a difference-maker in games.

 

The start of a long postseason

Win or lose in the Buckland Cup, the Blades are still headed for Centennial Cup supremacy come May. However, that doesn’t mean the team doesn’t care to win here and now. With several offseason and trade deadline acquisitions showing us why they were brought in over the course of the season, the Blades will surely be hoping to make a deep playoff push. After missing the playoffs last year, the players, coaching staff, and fans are all itching to get back into meaningful playoff hockey, and it’s on the way.

 

And it all starts tonight!

 

Go Blades Go!