A news filled week for the OJHL west division as Georgetown Raiders captain Steve Hladin and Milton Icehawks goalie Ben Blacker were given invites to the Team Canada East selection camp for the upcoming world jr A challenge. The west division was also given some love in the recent CJHL rankings as Buffalo came received the 16th ranking while the Hamilton Redwings were given an honourable mention.
Game of the Week Review
Georgetown Raiders @ Burlington Cougers
I was lucky enough to catch this one Saturday night and I don’t want to sound too hyperbolic but this was one of the most entertaining Jr A games I have seen. Both teams were coming in on highs as Georgetown had won 3 of 4 coming in and Burlington had won their last home start against the Kingston Voyageurs.
To say the 1st period was all Georgetown would be an understatement as the Raiders were firing all sorts of rubber at the Cougars net. While they held a 14-1 shot advantage their 2 best scoring chances of the period missed the net as Liam Board just missed tucking in a rebound and a chance later in the period off of a turnover went over the net.
The 2nd period started off with a bang as Georgetown captain Steve Hladin came busting in off the wing forcing Josh Morton to make a big save though the rebound squirted out into the slot forcing him to dive across his crease and make an even bigger save on Mitchell Kreis. On the very next shift the Raiders again came rushing in with numbers this time Adam Nanji finished off a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play with Liam Clare and Ryan Smith. With Raiders continuing to press the Cougers caught a break when Adam Burnett sprung Paulo Desousa on the breakaway where he would make no mistake by putting it up stairs on McNiven. This duo would almost hook up again as Burnett again sprung DeSousa who was lurking behind the Georgetown D only to go offside. The Desousa goal seemed to recharge the Cougars as the game was a lot closer from that point but it would be the Raiders who would strike next as Anthony Marra would come streaking in off the wing with under 2 minutes to go and slide it 5 hole on Morton. 2-1 Raiders after 2 with a 26-9 shot advantage.
Christian Burel is a name you probably haven’t heard of much but early in the 3rd period he came in through the neutral zone with some speed and caught the Burlington defenseman flat footed causing him to take a penalty. It is something that won’t show up on the stat sheet but it turned out to be big as on the ensuing power play John Adams collect a loss puck and with Smith and Brendan Jacome providing the screen he would sneak one in to give the Raiders a 2 goal lead.
It is amazing how momentum can work. A seemingly innocuous can turn a team’s fortunes around and change the outlook on a game. That is what happened at the 7:43 mark as Jordon Brown fired a wrister from the point that seemed to ricochet off of Marra’s shin pad and floated top corner. Suddenly the Cougars were right back in the game. A few minutes later Jeremy Gottzmann would be would throw the puck on the net and the rebound appeared to go off of Derek Rotters skate and in and suddenly we are tied at 3. Would you believe me if I said the Cougars weren’t done? With just under 5 to go after Anthony Marra rung one off of the crossbar Jeremy Gottzmann put what looked like a harmless shot towards the net that somehow found a hole and Burlington had their first lead of the night at 4-3. It all came down to one faceoff. With the Raiders net empty and Steve Hladin having been kicked out of the faceoff circle it was up to John Adams. He was able to scrum the job and the Raiders gained possession. The puck got sent to Liam Clare who purposely fired a shot/pass 5 feet wide of the net where Liam Board would somehow get his stick on it and redirect it at such an angle that Morton was unable to get a hand on it and we were heading to overtime.
Even with such a deflating goal near the end of the period the Cougars did not back down. In fact they played their most dominating hockey of the game. Burlington would outshoot 9-1 in overtime but the play of the period came in the dying seconds as Cougars star Jeremy Gottzmann got sprung on the breakaway and with 2.3 left on the clock as he deked to his forehand McNiven slide his pad over to close the door and we were going to a shootout. Ultimately in the shootout the Cougars could not keep up as 7 of the 10 shooters scored but it was McNiven who came up big with a poke check on Nathan Tanden to seal the Raiders victory.
West Division 3 Stars
1)Steve Hladin (Geo)
Started the week with an invite to the Canada East Jr A challenge camp and continued the good vibes with an 8 point showing while leading the Raiders to 3 wins.
2)Pat Egan (Buf)
The veteran forward has points in 13 of 14 games this year and points in 6 straight. This week he helped the CJHL’s 16th ranked team win 2 of 3 contests while picking up 3 goals and 4 assists.
3) Adam Nanji (Geo)
The big Georgetown forward had a strong week with 2 goals and 3 assists as well as a goal in a shootout win against Burlington on Saturday night.
Rookie of the Week
Michael McNiven (Georgetown)
In his first full week in the OJHL the rookie goalie picked up 3 wins in helping push the Georgetown record above .500 for the first time since September 29th. The defining moment of his week may have been in overtime against the Cougers making a game saving breakaway save on Burlington star forward Jeremy Gottzmann with 2 seconds left.
Honourable mention: Conner Bramwell (Ham) had his goal streak snapped at 4 games but still added 3 to his season total
Team of the Week
3 games and 3 wins for the Georgetown Raiders and it is hard not to get excited about efficiency like that. Things started off with a big come from behind win over Hamilton the 2nd place team in the division that got Raiders to .500. Next came a home date with the Mississauga Chargers where team captain Steve Hladin lead the way with a hat trick. Finally on Saturday in Burlington they fought back after blowing a 2 goal 3rd period lead to win in a shootout.
Honourable mention: Buffalo Jr Sabres
Game of the Week Preview
Buffalo Jr Sabres @ Georgetown Raiders Saturday October 26th 730 PM
The 1st place team in the OJHL west division travels to the Alcott Arena to take on the hottest team in the west division. Buffalo has won their only meeting so far this season 5-2 back on September 30th in Buffalo. That loss pushed Georgetown below .500, a mark they would not rise above till their recent streak lead by their new addition between the pipes Michael McNiven. These are the teams I projected to finish 1 and 2 in the division this season and so far they have had vastly different seasons. With Georgetown seemingly starting to turn things around it will be interesting how they handle a visit from the Buffalo Jr Sabres.