What a great opening week and a half of Jr A hockey action here in the OJHL West division. With the short opening week I have combined the two for my first weekly review.
Game of the Week Review
Newmarket Hurricanes 6 Georgetown Raiders 4
Was there ever really any doubt on what the West game of the week would be when you have 2 teams ranked in the CJHL top 20 facing off? On Saturday night the 11th ranked team from Newmarket paid a visit to the 3rd ranked Georgetown Raiders at the Alcott Arena and the local fans were not disappointed.
It was an offensive showcase in the 1st period with both teams getting multiple chances early and often. Newmarket jumped out to an early lead less than 3 minutes into the game as Matt Marsden buried the first of his OJHL career. It would be a short lived lead however as Georgetown would strike quickly twice before the 7 minute mark to take a 2-1 lead. The Raiders quick strike offense wasn’t enough to discourage the Hurricanes as they would add 2 more themselves before the end of the period to retake the lead.
The second period got off to an ominous start for the Raiders as it looked as if the Hurricanes were going to blow them away. Two more goals in the first 2:17 of the second spelt the end of the night for Raiders starter Michael Stiliadis. It was now up to rookie Michael Singh to stem the bleeding and keep Newmarket close if any hope of a comeback was to be realized and that is just what he did. With Newmarket now up 5-2 and Michael Singh in net for Georgetown the Raiders slowly started chipping away. First it was Adam Nanji less than 2 minutes after the goalie change who pulled the Raiders within 2 with his first goal of the season. Then with less than 2 minutes left in the middle stanza Liam Clare would score the only power play goal of the game to pull the Raiders within 1 for the final period.
The third period was nothing but a goalie show and Newmarket starter Jake Danson was the main attraction. With the hometown Raiders not wanting to send their fans home with an “L” on their home opener they threw everything at the Newmarket net in the 3rd period. Up to the challenge though Danson turned away all 20 shots he faced in the period and with just under 5 minutes left the Hurricanes finally cashed in with an insurance goal on Michael Singh who was equally stellar in relief in his first taste of OJHL action.
While the 222 fans in attendance didn’t get to see the home team win it was a hard fought battle and a great showcase for out of conference games. While it is too early to be thinking of the Frank J Buckland trophy, it would be a fantastic series to see these two teams fight it out.
West Division 3 Stars
1)Shane Bennett (Mlt)
5 Goals and 1 Assists in 6 games for the Milton triggerman. Highlights include an OT winner against Georgetown and a SO winner against the Pickering Panthers
2)Mathew Thompson (Ora)
Top scorer from the OJHL West division as Mathew and the white hot top line from Orangeville continues to fill the net. Through 3 games Mathew was able to pick up 2 goals and 5 assists.
3)Tyler Burns (Mlt)
One of the top scoring defensemen in the opening week, Tyler was able to bring balance to the Milton attack by picking up 1 Goal and 3 Assists in Milton’s opening 6 games
Rookie of the Week
Ben Blacker (MLT)
Milton’s star 16 year old rookie and Western Michigan commit is proving to be better than your average rookie. Ben appeared in 5 games for the Icehawks in the opening week and a half of the OJHL season and was nothing short of fantastic. Appearing in 5 games Ben picked up 3 wins and had a .940 SV%. To top things off Ben had a “statement game” against the 3rd ranked Georgetown Raiders with a 46 save performance in a 2-1 OT win
Honourable mention: Daniel Lafontaine (Buf) 1 Goal 4 Assists in 3 games.
Team of the Week
The Milton Icehawks couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season after missing the playoffs last year. Lead by star sniper Shane Bennett and all world rookie goalie Ben Blacker the Icehawks picked up 4 wins in 6 games to jump out to an early lead in the OJHL West division. Highlighted wins include those over division rivals Orangeville and Georgetown.
Honourable mention: Hamilton Jr Redwings
Game of the Week Preview
Hamilton Jr Redwings @ Georgetown Raiders Wednesday September 18th 7:30
Hamilton opened up the season with 2 wins in the opening week making me look foolish with my 6th place prediction. They kick week two off on Monday with a home contest against the vaunted Kingston Vees and former Jr Red Wing Adam Brady. Their real measuring stick match of the week however will come in the form of a road game against division their division rivals the Georgetown Raiders.
Georgetown is coming off of a disappointing end to their week after and OT and regulation loss. Hamilton may just be what the doctor ordered as Georgetown owned the series last year. That being said this Hamilton team is one not to be taken lightly as their coach has instilled something that has not been seen on the mountain in a few years.