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Teddy Bears Fly in Oakville, Goals Aplenty in Caledon

OAKVILLE, ON - DECEMBER 2: Oakville Blades players during the Teddy Bear Toss at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex on December 2, 2023 in Ontario, Canada (Spencer Smye / OJHL Images)

By Ty Brooks

Over the past week:

Thursday and Saturday matches were played this week, against two western conference opponents in Caledon and Burlington. While both matches were entertaining, Saturday at home was extra special. The annual Teddy Bear Toss took place in support of the Oakville Firefighters’ Professional Association Toy Drive, and let’s just say it was a big success. Our very own Dean DeFazio, assistant coach, started the toy drive in 1992 and this year’s drive is the 32nd!

 

Nov. 30th @ Caledon Admirals

Blades Top Players:

Clarke 1, 2A

Indovina 2G

McCarthy 34/36 SVS .944SV%

 

The Blades showed up at the Mayfield Recreation Complex as a strong, but undisciplined team. In a game where the Blades took 10 infractions, they were fortunate to have a result like the one they did. All of that time shorthanded led the Blades to low shot totals, with only 33 in this game and they were also outshot by Caledon after 60 minutes of play. They even conceded the first goal of the game on the penalty kill, but veteran netminder McCarthy pushed this squad to their victory.

 

Despite some troubles keeping out of the penalty box, this team really brought the firepower to Caledon. Scoring five goals in this game, for the first time since October 28th vs. Toronto, the team played a cohesive game resulting in 6 individual multi-point games. This welcomed burst of offense provided a nice look at the Blades ability to generate goals through different methods of attack. The game saw rebound goals, one-time blasts, snap shot snipes and breakaway brilliance as the Blades filled the scoresheet.

 

Your goal scorers in this 5-2 victory were Matthew Indovina with some breakaway magic (1st 17:35, 3rd 14:26), co-captain Sean Clarke (2nd 1:31), Eric Bonsteel (2nd 16:51) and Gleb Akimov with the beauty of a shot on the man advantage (3rd 14:00). Multi point performances go to Akimov (1G, 1A), Clarke (1G, 2A), Indovina (2G), Luke Johnston (2A), Jeriah Shantz (2A) and a special shoutout to rookie defenceman Cormick Smallegange (2A) who recorded the first career multi-point game in the OJHL!

 

Of course, you can assume that co-captain Gavin McCarthy was solid in net. Being a major penalty killer, he helped shut down the Admirals offense and bail out the undisciplined play. He made 34 saves on 36 shots and gave the team in front of him the push they needed to jump back into the win column this week!

 

Dec. 2nd vs Burlington Cougars (Teddy Bear Toss)

Blades Top Players:

McCarthy 52/55 SVS .945SV%

Shantz 1G

Indovina 1G

 

A very special game took place in Oakville this past Saturday. The Oakville Firefighters Professional Association stopped by for some hockey, but more importantly to collect donations to the Oakville Firefighters’ 32nd Annual Toy Drive. A huge thank you goes out from the Blades organisation to all who donated on Saturday, your donations will make a local child very happy!

 

Fans piled into the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex (to the tune of 521 total) for the rivalry match, teddy bears clutched in hand just waiting for that first goal. The puck dropped and the suspense began to build, who would score the first goal? The anticipation was building in what could only be described as a very close game, as both lineups were playing strong from top to bottom. While 25 shots were registered in the 1st period, not a single goal came with it. Twenty minutes had come and gone, and everyone was still holding onto their teddy bears.

 

At this point, everyone was ready to toss the teddy bears. So many opportunities arose where the Blades came so close and the crowd held their breath, just to exhale a few moments later when the Cougars goalie would keep the puck out of the net. It was approaching the halfway point in the game when veterans Gleb Akimov and Jeriah Shantz found themselves on a 2-on-2 opportunity, and you could feel the tension rising in the building. Akimov shot low hoping to generate a rebound and wouldn’t you know it, Shantz was in the perfect spot to slam home the Teddy Bear Toss goal! In the following seconds, hundreds of stuffed animals rained down from the crowd at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex resulting in the best delay of game you’ll see all year!

 

After a few good minutes of pictures and collecting stuffed animals, we were back to more OJHL hockey. This high chance affair would surprisingly only see that goal through the first 40 minutes, with the Blades and Cougars goalies facing 32 saves each but standing tall throughout. Nonetheless, it was only a matter of time before the goal scoring began.

 

The final regulation period favoured Burlington a little more than the team would have liked. The Cougars struck early in the 3rd, on a goal that had McCarthy wanting a goaltender interference call he would unfortunately not get, putting the Blades on high alert. The pace of play picked up and both teams stayed sharp, knowing that it was a tie game in the 3rd period, nobody wanted to give up a goal. The go-ahead goal came at 11:06 off a Cole McKenna point shot that was deflected last second through the five-hole of the away goaltender by rookie standout #27 Matthew Indovina. An electric goal was followed by an electric celebration from the rookie as the Blades took the lead 2-1 late in the game.

 

A razor close finish was in store for all the fans. As the clock wore thin, Burlington vacated the crease for the extra attacker. After some nice defence from the home team, they cleared the puck down the ice taking a stab at the empty net goal. As the puck flew wide it seemed like the play would be whistled dead for icing. Out of nowhere, came Luke Johnston flying through center ice. He was neck-and-neck with the Cougars defender and the puck had bounced off the boards and in front of the net! It seemed like Johnston would possibly be able to score the insurance marker but right as both players arrived at the puck, it was whistled down. The play came back to the Blades end, and with only 8 seconds to go… the Cougars pounced. Overtime here we go…

 

Despite switching to 4-on-4 for OT, only 4 shots were had, providing no real challenge to the goaltenders who had been strong all game. Off the teams went to double overtime in this nail-biter of a matchup. For the longest time it looked like this game would end in a tie, but with 1:13 remaining in double overtime the winning goal was scored. It would not be the result the home crowd hoped for, as Burlington won in the extra frames. Hard fought game, including an exceptional 52 save performance from one of the league’s premier goaltenders in Gavin McCarthy, those will always sting when you lose.

 

In store for next week:

Back on the road for the Blades, Thursday in Leamington for the first time, Saturday in Mississauga and Sunday in Milton. It will be a competitive week, and no points will be handed over easily. With two good performances from Oakville this past weekend, expect more hard fought hockey this next week. While some arenas will be harder to get to than others, try your best to make your way to a game at some point to support your favourite OJHL squad!

 

OAKVILLE, ON – DECEMBER 2: Sparky and members of the Oakville Firefighters Professional Association during the pregame warm-up at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex on December 2, 2023 in Ontario, Canada (Spencer Smye / OJHL Images)
OAKVILLE, ON – DECEMBER 2:Oakville Firefighters Professional Association sell Teddy Bears during the pregame warm-up at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex on December 2, 2023 in Ontario, Canada (Spencer Smye / OJHL Images)
OAKVILLE, ON – DECEMBER 2: Oakville Firefighters Professional Association during the pregame warm-up at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex on December 2, 2023 in Ontario, Canada (Spencer Smye / OJHL Images)