The OJHL West division is starting to turn into the haves and have nots. Buffalo, Milton and Georgetown combined to go 7-0 this past week while Hamilton, Burlington and Orangeville would go 0-5-1.
At various times this season any of the the top 3 teams have looked capable of making a run in the playoffs as the can compete with anyone when on top of their game. As the losses continue to pile up the road to the playoffs becomes steeper and steeper for Burlington and Hamilton. Orangeville has already started trading off their top players as the playoffs were a write off a long time ago.
Game of the Week Review
Wellington @ Milton
The game of the week was gearing up to be a dandy between the OJHL West division’s hottest team the Milton Icehawks and the Dudley Hewitt Cup hosts and East division leaders the Wellington Dukes. These two teams meet earlier in Wellington where the Dukes jumped out to a 2-0 lead only to have the Milton Icehawks claw back and win in a shootout. Would history repeat itself or would Wellington get its revenge?
The first oppertunites went Milton’s way as they picked up an early PP when Andrew McCann went off for tripping. Unable to cash on the man power advantage would prove to be costly for Milton as Wellington would get on the board shortly after returning to even strength. Kyle Paat would be able to sneak one past Milton goaltender Ben Blacker and it was a 1-0 game. Just like the first time these two teams met Wellington would add a second marker shortly after the 1st as Mike Soucier would score assisted by a pair of former OHLers in Chad Thibodeau and Mike Robinson. That score would hold through the end of the period and Wellington would take a 2-0 lead into the intermission
At the end of the 1st Mike Soucier would go off for holding giving the Icehawks their second PP of the game and this time they didn’t waste the opportunity as the would pull within 1 on Mitch Grahams goal. The celebration would be short lived for Graham as soon after he would chuck knuckles with Chad Thibodeau earning both game misconducts for the fight. Later on in the second the Dukes would retake a 2 goal lead and hold it till the intermission. The 2nd however clearly belonged to Milton as they outshot Wellington 16-9 after the Dukes held a 12-8 advantage in the 1st
The Icehawks came out to start the 3rd on a mission which wasn’t a surprise for the hometown crowd as Milton has made a habit of coming back during their recent run of success. Leading scorer Shane Bennett would get them back within 1 at the 5:42 mark and just 34 seconds later Josh Pace would tie the game for the first time since the 1st period. Both teams didn’t stop there as they kept coming looking to find the winner. Milton sent 13 shots towards Tyson Teichmann while Wellington fired 11 towards Ben Blacker. No more goals would find the back of the net in the 3rd and for the second time these two teams were giving the fans some “free” hockey after Wellington held a 2 goal lead.
After 70 combined shots in 60 minutes there were only 3 in the 5 minute overtime session as it seemed both these teams were content on taking this to a shootout. The first shooters were Soucier and Gottzmann and both were denied. Next up were Delaurentis and Bennett and both would find the back of the net. After Robinson and Elliot both missed we were off to extra shooters where Ryan Burns would end it for the Icehawks as they would pick up yet another win as they continued their hot streak.
West Division 3 Stars
1)Michael Ederer (Buf)
Michael had a big hand in ending the Jr Sabres 6 game winless streak as his 4G and 3A this past week helped pace Buffalo to two wins.
2)Emmerson Small (Ora)
Emmerson entered the week with 1G and 4A on the season but quickly added to that with 2 goals in a loss against Cobourg and 1G and 1A in a near win at home against the Oakville Blades
3)Michael Singh (Geo)
The Georgetown rookie goalie came up big on the road against Burlington with a 34 save performance in a shootout win the first of his OJHL career.
Rookie of the Week
Lucas Smilsky (Ora)
Lucas is quietly putting together a solid rookie campaign in relative anonymity up in Orangeville. He added 1G and 2A to his season total this week to lock up rookie of the week honours. His 18 points on the season are tops among ’97 born players in the OJHL West division.
Team of the Week
Arguably the best week any team in the OJHL has had this season. Milton started things off on Friday with a 5-1 win over the North York Rangers who were 6-2-2 in their previous 10 games. Saturday it was off to the big city as they faced the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots who held 1st place in the South Division and knocked them off 3-2 in OT. Sunday Afternoon it was back in Milton where they hosted the East Division leading Wellington Dukes and picked up a 4-3 shootout win.
Honourable mention: Buffalo jr Sabres, Georgetown Raiders
Game of the Week Preview
St Mikes Buzzers @ Buffalo Jr Sabres (Frontier Field Rochester, NY) Sunday December 15th
Was there any doubt what the game of the week would be? Two of the top teams in the South-West Conference do battle on an outdoor rink as part of festivities in Rochester, New York. After struggling for most of November the Jr Sabres seemed to start out right with 2 wins in their first full week of December hockey. St Michaels has struggled on the road this season sporting a 7-9-2 record but have dominated the West division to a tune of 9-0 including a 5-0 drubbing of the Buffalo Jr Sabres back on November 29th.