(Amherst, NY) – Coming off two wins against the always tough Oakville Blades, the Buffalo Junior Sabres looked to their matchup against the Georgetown Raiders as an important game in their quest to remain firmly in first place in the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s West Division. The Raiders sit behind Buffalo in second place in the OJHL West hold games in hand, had defeated the Jr. Sabres in their first meeting (in Amherst) and was recognized as the 12th ranked Junior-A team in Canada earlier in the week.
The Jr. Sabres had a lot at stake heading into the contest. The rose to the challenge – and then some.
When it was over Thursday night at the Northtown Center at Amherst, Tyler Gjurich (in file photo) had four goals while Parker Gahagen marked his second straight shutout – his third consecutive on home ice and his fifth of the season – in a 7-0 win over the visiting Raiders.
Max Mikowski opened the scoring with what proved to be the game-winning goal at the 5:13 mark of the first period, assisted by Nolan Sheeran and rookie call-up Nathan Sucese. Just under a minute and a half later, Gjurich scored the first of his four goals to increase the lead to 2-0, assisted by David Seward and Ryan Schmelzer. Sheeran added a goal at the 12:53 mark, assisted by Pat Egan and Ryall Ledyard. Gjurich completed the period’s scoring with his second goal, on the power play, at the 18:03 mark. The Kielich cousins, Josh and Tim, assisted the goal.
The Raiders pulled starting goaltender Gabe Grunwald after the fourth Buffalo goal and inserted rookie backup Tyler Lewis. Tyler Gjurich beat him twice in the second period. Sean Federow assisted both goals, while Seward and Schmelzer also recorded assists. Schmelzer added his own goal in the third period, assisted by Gjurich and Ledyard.
Gahagen faced only 19 shots and stopped them all, while Buffalo put 33 shots on the Georgetown net.
As the game went on and the lead increased, frustration set in and by the early stages of the second period the first of several fights broke out. Buffalo’s Tony DeVito, R.J. Sciarrone and Dylan Howatt were all sent to the showers early after taking part in the fisticuffs. Schmelzer, it was determined by the officials, tried to avoid throwing punches against his agitator, who was ejected while Schmelzer was penalized with a double minor for roughing (Schmelzer would later score his goal). In all, 81 minutes in penalties were handed out, 31 of them going to the Jr. Sabres.
The team next travels to Hamilton on Saturday night for a meeting with the Red Wings, who are well rested after a 6-3 victory over Milton on Monday.
Gjurich’s four-goal performance last night elevated his goal count to 20 for the season so far. As of Friday morning, November 9, Gjurich was the league’s leading goal scorer and tied for first place in overall scoring with 37 points. Sharing the league’s scoring lead with Gjurich is Oakville’s Jonah Renouf.
Alex Dagnal returned to the lineup for his first game since suffering a leg injury in a loss to the Burlington Cougars in early October. He did not record any points in his return game but did net six minutes in penalties. Dagnal is looked upon by the coaches as one of the team’s harder working players whose work ethic early in the season was resulting in point production.