HIRING: INTERN, HOCKEY OPERATIONS
Date: Oct 17, 2019
By Ron Valentine
The Oakville Blades qualified for the semifinals at the National Junior A Championship in Brooks, Alta with a 5-4 win over Manitoba’s Portage Terriers Tuesday.
They’ll complete the round-robin against the Ottawa Jr. Senators Thursday at 4 p.m. EDT.
First some comments from the Blades players and staff on the big win over Portage.
Coach Mike Tarantino: "We'll take tonight off and re-group for Ottawa. We managed to play through some tough situations." Like Ottawa Coach Martin Dagenais last night, he was not too enamoured with some of the calls in the game "but that's hockey!"
Long-time friend and Equipment Manager Craig Clayton after I told him his team was giving fans a heart attack in the third period: "How do you think I felt on the bench! At the least we are guaranteed a semifinal spot on Saturday now, a first for the Blades."
GM Jordan Selinger: "Was nice to see the boys hold on but it would have been appreciated if we didn't have to make it that close! Now another day off to make some more adjustments and get ready for the weekend."
I asked Harrison Israels about the two big hits he took in the third: "I'm good. I was just a bit shaken up, that's all but very happy with the win."
Captain Peyton Reeves: "We did not play our best or for the full 60 minutes in our first two games against arguably the two toughest teams in the tournament. I thought we came out strong in all the games but this time we were able to keep it going for 60 minutes. A great performance for (Spencer) Kersten's line but also a great team performance. Despite their two powerplay goals I thought our defense played a solid game. Though we are now in the semis, we're looking forward to the game against Ottawa. We match up pretty well. Two teams who rely on quickness."
Rookie Ryan O'Hara: "We will have to step it up even more for the semis.'
Goalkeeper Will Barber: " We really came out hard in the first period, which helped give us the momentum for the rest of the game. They came on in the last 1- minutes but holding them off gave us the confidence we needed after the two losses. We're just trying to focus on our game and staying within ourselves. The day off will be important for us to re-group and then come prepared for Ottawa and whoever we match up against in the semifinals."
In the evening contest at the NJHC, the Ottawa Jr. Senators (1-1) tangled with the Brooks Bandits (2-0). An impressive start for the AJHL host club scoring 12 goals and allowing 6. The Sens shutout the Portage Terriers 3-0 in their first game but Monday night fell to the Prince George Spruce Kings 4-0.
Ottawa took the lead in the first frame on a Colin Marshall goal with five minutes left but the Bandits got two in quick order from Arnaud Vachon and a powerplay marker from Owen Sound native Jakob Lee.
Junior Senators' goaltender Francis Boisvert stood tall in the scoreless second stanza making several highlight-reel saves. Shots after two periods 30-7 in favour of the hosts.
No scoring in the third for the 2-1 final as the Bandits go 3-0 and the Jr. Senators 1-2. Boisvert was named, not surprisingly, the player of the game for Ottawa, saving 37 shots. Vachon was named for the winners. In the Brooks' net, Pierce Charleson had to make just three saves in each period but with their goalie out the Senators could have forced overtime for the first time in the tournament.
In Wednesday's only meeting, the Terriers and the Spruce Kings clash.
The top four teams in the tournament round-robin qualify for the semifinals Saturday. The final will be played Sunday at 5 p.m. EDT.
All preliminary round and semifinals will be streamed live on HockeyCanada.ca. The championship game will be broadcast on TSN and streamed on TSN.ca
All Oakville Blades games at the nationals are being broadcast on Oakville Blades Radio. Listen at oakvilleblades.ca