OJHL West Division Week 3 Review
The OJHL Governors cup showcase was this past weekend and it was a rough 2 days for the West Division. Only 1 win and that would come thanks to the Georgetown Raiders who needed OT to get by TJC. Buffalo and Milton were able to pick up points in an OT and SO losses respectively while Burlington, Orangeville and Hamilton all suffered large defeats. The week wasn’t all lost though as Buffalo picked up a win over the #5 ranked Trenton Golden Hawks. The Milton Icehawks skated into Cobourg and picked up 2 points and the Hamilton Red Wings opened the week with a win over the TJC.
Game of the Week Review
Milton Icehawks vs Toronto Lakeshore Patriots in Oakville
While the hometown Oakville Blades were taking on their Halton region rivals the Burlington Cougars in rink 1 the Icehawks were taking on the Patriots in rink 2 to end the opening night of the OJHL Govenors Showcase at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex.
The Icehawks didn’t get off the start they wanted as Matt Mcleod opened the scoring for TLP. The rest of the period was rather uneventful as TLP held a 9-7 shot advantage through 1 period of play. The referees let the teams play that period as only 1 penalty was called but it would be a costly one for TLP as 6’7” Dman Jack Ohara got 2 and a game for a hit from behind.
The Icehawks would strike within 5 minutes of the second period as Dante Cannatella let a wrister go from the point. With Icehawks captain Kane Elliot providing the screen in front the puck found the top corner behind a screened Mark Manolescu and we were knotted up at 1’s. Things got noticeably chippy in the 2nd stanza and that chippyness led to a scrap between Ryan Burns of Milton and Cory Lauer of TLP. It was a costly one for Milton as Burns was given an additional 2 for instigating and TLP would make him pay on the ensuing power play. Rory Bell picked up the power play goal with just under 3 left, his 3rd of the season and Matthew McLeod picked up his 2nd point of the night with an assist and we were 2-1 going into the 3rd period.
The chippyness of the 2nd period didn’t come out for the 3rd period instead it was a hard fought 20 minutes with Milton pressing for the tying goal and TLP looking for an insurance marker. It was Milton who would break through as scoring star Shane Bennett would put home his 6th of the year as Richie and Elliot would pick up their 2nd assists of the game. Shortly after the goal TLP rookie Jacob Hayhurst would take a double minor for high sticking giving Milton a chance to end it in regulation. No winning goal would come and with the shots 29-26 in favour of TLP we would be heading to overtime.
The start of overtime coincided with the end of the Oakville/Burlington game so there was a big crowd to watch the extra time on the smaller rink 2 with it 3-4 people deep in some spots. In spite of chances at either end of the ice neither team was able to end it in overtime so it was off to a shootout. Nobody was complaining though as it was a great way for the day to end from the fans perspective.
Milton would shoot first with Shane Bennett being tapped to lead things off. In what looked like an odd play from my point of view Bennet fanned on the shot and had it go off of Manolescu’s skate and off the post. Kevin Shier was given the go ahead for TLP and he bad no mistake by putting it over Blackers glove and into the net. That goal would prove to be the winner as neither Alex Richie nor Kane Elliot were able to put one past the TLP keeper. A 4-3 final in what was a very entertaining game.
West Division 3 Stars
1)Ben Blacker (Mil)
The rookie of the week is also your first star of the week as Blacker stopped 68 of 71 shots faced to help Milton pick up 3 points in the 2 games he started.
2)Darren McCormik (Buf)
The Buffalo forward picked up a pair of 2 assist games for the OJHL West Division team of the week.
3)Liam Clare (Geo)
The Georgetown ’95 born defenseman picked up 2 assists in 3 games this week for the Raiders. What impressed me most was his work in his own zone Sunday morning against the Toronto Jr Canadians.
Rookie of the Week
Ben Blacker (Milton)
The '97 born goalie and Western Michigan commit continues to assert himself as one of the best goalies in the OJHL. Ben got the start in 2 of Milton's 3 games this week stopping 68 of a possible 71 shots while helping the icehawks to 3 out of a possible 4 points.
The win in Cobourg was a big one as he held Milton in it inspite the Icehawks being outshot 39-18 in a 4-1 win. While I am sure he would like to have the first shootout attempt back from Saturday against TLP it was another solid performance for Blacker which is becoming the norm.
Honourable mention: Christiano DiGiancinto (Ham) 1 goal 2 assists in 3 games
Team of the Week
Buffalo Jr Sabres
It was a tough call between the Jr. Sabres and the Milton Icehawks but a big win over the Trenton Golden Hawks who happened to be ranked 5th in the CJHL is what swayed me. What makes the win even more impressive is that they were able to do it without the services of Daniel Lafontaine who may be missing some significant time with an injury.
While their performance at the OJHL Govenors Showcase may not have been what they were hoping for the Jr Sabres were still able to pick up a point in the Overtime loss. Up next for the Jr Sabres are home games against Georgetown and Newmarket before heading on an eastern swing to face Kingston and Whitby in what will be a busy week.
Honourable mention: Milton Icehawks
Game of the Week Preview
Milton Icehawks vs Georgetown Raiders Saturday October 5th 730 PM
It was hard to pick a game of the week this week as there are plenty of big games involving west division teams. On Monday there are 2 big interdivision match ups with Georgetown heading to Buffalo and Milton visiting Hamilton. For the game of the week however you will have to wait till Saturday when the Raiders play host to the Icehawks. During week 1 these two teams faced off in a great battle in Milton that went to overtime where the Icehawks prevailed behind a 46 save performance from Ben Blacker. Will the encore be as memorable? Well you will have to be at the Alcott Arena to find out.