Buy Centennial Cup Ticket Packages, Now!

Round Two Preview of the Buckland Cup Playoffs

OAKVILLE, ON - JANUARY 27: OHA Referee Connor Mallon gets set to drop the puck to start the game at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex on January 27, 2024 in Ontario, Canada (Photo by Michelle Malvaso / OJHL Images)

By Ty Brooks

 

All of the first round matches have been finished for a couple of days now, and the OJHL recently announced the 2nd round schedules, which are all set to begin this Friday, March 22nd. The Western Conference saw every single favourite win their series, while the underdogs won just three games combined. The Eastern Conference was not at all the same story, with two underdogs (JRC and Cobourg) advancing in a strong fashion too. As the Blades are in the Western Conference, seeded in 4th place, and all the highest seeds (#1, #2, #3) also moved on, the Blades will play the top seed in their conference. The top seed in the Western Conference is the Collingwood Blues.

 

2nd Round OJHL Playoff Matchups:

Western Conference

Collingwood Blues (1)

vs.

Oakville Blades (4)

 

Milton Menace (2)

vs.

Leamington Flyers (3)

 

Eastern Conference

Trenton Golden Hawks (1)

vs.

Toronto Jr. Canadiens (6)

 

St. Michael’s Buzzers (2)

vs.

Cobourg Cougars (5)

 

 

2nd Series Preview
The challenge with playing the Collingwood Blues is obvious. This is an all-around strong team that is the reigning Buckland Cup Champions and 2023–2024 OJHL regular season champions. The depth of this team is what stands out above all else; D1 and USports commitments at every position and 7 players with 20+ goals speak to just how balanced the Collingwood Blues are. They swept their first-round matchup and are coming into this second-round series with a lot of positive momentum and a lot of time to rest.

 

That is undoubtedly daunting; this Collingwood team is strong. But despite definitely being the underdogs in this series, don’t count out the Oakville Blades. Whether it’s the regular season or these playoffs so far, the Blades are on par with or better than the Blues in multiple important categories.

Let’s begin with the season series, where four games were played. Over those 4 games, the goal totals were dead even, 6-6. The wins? Even at 2-2, In fact, Oakville is one of only two teams to hold multiple wins against Collingwood this year. Every single one of those games played was a one-goal game (3-2, 2-1, 0-1, 1-2), showing that games between these two teams are always competitive.

 

As for where Oakville has fared better, it’s in some pretty critical categories. Most notably, both in the regular season and in the first round of the playoffs, Oakville holds a notably stronger powerplay. This will be especially important when a team like Collingwood, who took the 4th most PIMs in the regular season, faces a team that plays a rough, physical game and is more disciplined, like the Blades are (18th in PIM). Even looking at these playoffs, where Collingwood has played 4 games and Oakville has played 6, Collingwood registered 25 more PIMs against a weaker team too.

 

Sticking to the subject of these playoffs, Oakville outperformed Collingwood in several key metrics while playing a significantly stronger team. Here’s a quick breakdown of some regular-season defensive metrics compared between the two first-round opponents:

(GAPG = Goals Against Per Game)

(GFPG = Goals For Per Game)

 

Brantford 3.64 GAPG / -29 Goal Differential

Buffalo 3.17 GAPG  / +39 Goal Differential

 

Despite Buffalo clearly being the stronger team defensively, Oakville scored 4.33 GFPG against that team, over a 1 GFPG more than Buffalo was used to. Collingwood scored 3.75 GFPG against Brantford, which is roughly what Brantford would give up in the regular season anyway. As a matter of fact, no team had a greater GFPG or goal differential as Oakville did in the 1st round, despite 50% of the 1st round series being a 4-0 sweep.

 

Yes, Collingwood is an extremely strong team. You don’t get to #1 on the CJHL rankings for nothing, much less stay there for weeks at a time. However, the facts are that Oakville is older, bigger, and, in terms of total OJHL games played, more experienced.

 

Schedule 

This surely thrilling series will start on March 22nd in Collingwood at the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena. There will be one game in Collingwood, a 7:00 PM start, before the teams come back to play again the next night in Oakville for another 7:00 PM game. For the full schedule, you can visit the Blades social media pages or check it out at the OJHL Playoffs 2nd Round Schedule. This is going to be really competitive hockey, so make sure to show up and make some noise for your Oakville Blades!