With 3 wins the Jr Sabres have now moved 3 points clear of 2nd in the division which is currently shared by Milton and Georgetown. Currently Buffalo’s magic number to clinch the division title stands at 6 points. So either 6 points by buffalo or 6 “lost” points by Milton and Georgetown and the West title is theirs. Among the other highlights from the week includes Hamilton’s second upset of Buffalo in 2 weeks on Monday night followed by Burlington handing Whitby a loss on Tuesday evening in a make up game.
Game of the Week Review
Georgetown @ Milton
For the 2nd time in the week the Milton Icehawks found themselves in a game where 1st place in the West Division was on the line. Buffalo came into this one off of a big 11-2 win over Oakville which allowed them to keep pace with Milton who were coming off of their second win in a week over Georgetown.
The teams traded power play opportunities early in the first with Buffalo getting the best scoring chances in each situation but Ben Blacker came to play early. It was obvious that Buffalo had a game plan to drive to the net and play physical with Blacker as there were a few instances early where contact was made. Jr Sabres leading scorer Pat Egan was finally able to open the scoring just before the midway mark with assists to Gabriel and Desimone. Buffalo would add another one late in the first off the stick of Nolan Sheeran who with a flick of the wrists sent a rocker up high on Blacker. Less than a minute later however Milton would get that one back as Alex Richie would cash on a fluky goal that floated up and over Joseph Pianta. Buffalo certainly carried the play in the 1st as they outshot Milton 15-5. Not only that but Buffalo just looked bigger and faster than Milton in the opening period.
The second period got off to a better start for Milton as they got an early power play thanks to a Jason Heerdt interference penalty. 8 seconds into that power play Cooper Richards got the puck at the side of the net and fired it home to tie the game. Wilson Vershay would restore the Buffalo lead 3 minutes later. The teams would trade power plays again in the 2nd period but it wasn’t till late in the middle stanza that we would see another goal and once again it was a fluky one this one finding a home behind Blaker. It came off the stick of Pat Egan, his 5th multi goal game of the season. Buffalo would take the 4-2 lead into the intermission and held a 2 period shot advantage of 29-14.
Milton needed to come out strong in the 3rd period but penalty trouble never gave them a chance. Buffalo had a 3 to 1 power play advantage through the first half of the 3rd before Nick Desimone cashed in with a power play goal. That seemed to be the goal to seal it as Milton never seemed to press that much the rest of the game. With the 5-2 win the Jr Sabres moved into 1st place and with their games in hand on Milton they are in a dominant position to lock up 1st overall before the playoffs.
West Division 3 Stars
1)Pat Egan (Buf)
4 goals and 4 assists helped seal the first star honours for the Jr Sabres forward. Highlighted is a 2 goal game against Milton on Friday that helped push Buffalo back into 1st place in the division.
2)Nick Desimone (Buf)
A big week for the Buffalo rearguard as he picked up 3 goals and 5 assists. The 8 points helped him overtake Michael Prapavessis as the leading scorer among Dmen in the OJHL.
3)Steve Midensky (Geo)
Midensky came up big for Georgetown on Saturday as his hat trick helped the Raiders take out the visiting Kingston Voyeguers. The win also kept the Raiders hopes of a home ice in the 1st round of the playoffs alive.
Rookie of the Week
Josh Gabriel (Buf)
The first year ’96 born forward had a big hand in Buffalo’s 3 wins this week as he chipped in with 1 goal and 5 assists. His contributions this season are a big reason why Buffalo has such a balanced attack.
Team of the Week
Buffalo Jr Sabres
Following a 2nd head scratching loss in Hamilton in 2 weeks the Jr Sabres rebounded by routing the Oakville Blades 11-2 at home on Tuesday night followed by continued decimation of the Halton region with a 5-2 win in Milton on Friday and a 7-3 triumph over Burlington on Saturday. The 3 wins helped pull the Jr Sabres 3 points clear of 2nd place in the division.
Honourable mention: Milton Icehawks
Game of the Week Preview
Pickering Panthers @ Milton Icehawks Friday February 14th
While 1st in the division may be a little out of reach there is still always a shot at home ice in the 1st round. Currently Milton sits 1 point behind St Michaels for 4th and 4 points behind North York for 3rd. This is the 2nd of 2 meetings between these two teams with Milton winning the opening contest in September in Pickering 5-4 in a shootout. Ben Blacker turned away 45 shots in the win and Shane Bennett came through with the shootout winner.