The Buffalo Junior Sabres, for the second time in four games, won a game in overtime as the blue and gold completed its season-opening four game homestand with a 6-5 OT win over the Hamilton Red Wings.
It was a game that Buffalo appeared to have control of in the first half of the contest, but the always tough Red Wings rallied to erase the Jr. Sabres’ lead and forced overtime with a goal with just under 15 seconds left in the third period.
Hamilton opened the scoring at the 4:18 mark of the first period when Adam Brady put the puck past Buffalo starter Parker Gahagen. The Junior Sabres rallied to tie the game just under two minutes later on Andrew Poturalski’s goal. On the power play, the Jr. Sabres took the lead two minutes later when Dylan Howatt scored. The Red Wings’ leading scorer, Andrew Radjenovic, erased that lead just seconds later, taking advantage of Buffalo miscues to tie the game at 2-2. Buffalo regained its lead when, with a penalty pending against Hamilton, Rocky Gruttadauria found a loose puck and slipped it past Red Wings goalie Stormer Santana. Buffalo got another power play opportunity late in the period, and at the 16:36 mark David Seward tipped Chris Luker’s shot past Santana to build Buffalo’s lead to 4-2.
In the second period, Hamilton’s Benjamin Walsh cut the lead to one goal at the 8:18 mark, scoring to make the score 4-3. Poturalski restored Buffalo’s two-goal lead just two minutes later when he sped into the Hamilton zone, saw an opening, cut around the net and scored a wraparound goal to give Buffalo the 5-3 advantage. Hamilton cut the lead to 5-4 with less than a minute in the period on Walsh’s second goal of the game, scored when he slipped past two Buffalo defenders after taking a long pass from his zone and catching the hosts snoozing.
Both teams were given power play opportunities in the third period, but neither could score through the first 19 minutes. But then, with Hamilton pulling Santana from the net for the extra attacker, Radjenovic found the loose puck amidst a scrum in front of Buffalo’s net to force the tie with just under 15 seconds remaining.
The Jr. Sabres, who were in danger of earning only one point after letting Hamilton rally back into the game, stole that second point back in overtime when, at just over one minute into the extra session, Seward passed the puck up to Josh Kielich, who fired a shot just inside the Hamilton blue line that beat Santana and gave the home team the 6-5 win.
Buffalo outshot Hamilton 42 to 26, with Buffalo’s Parker Gahagen making 21 saves. Santana made 36 saves for the visitors.
It wasn’t the prettiest two points, but the Junior Sabres will take them as they prepare for their first road game of the season, Saturday night in Oakville.
In the next edition of Junior Sabres Journal, scheduled for release Thursday morning, we’ll offer video highlights of the game plus comments from head coach Grant Ledyard about the game that almost got away from Buffalo.