(Buffalo, NY) – The Buffalo Jr. Sabres will now need to win on the road Saturday night to claim the top spot in the Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division and South-West Conference playoffs. Hopes to clinch at home were dashed by the Oakville Blades, who scored two quick goals in the third period to defeat their hosts, 3-1, at the First Niagara Center in downtown Buffalo.
After a scoreless first period that featured many brilliant saves by Blades netminder Spencer Bacon, Buffalo took the game’s first lead at the 2:45 mark of the second period with Tyler Gjurich’s 52nd goal of the season. With just a half minute left in the period, though, Patrick Chore evened the score for Oakville.
Chore, who entered the game as the league’s leading power play goal scorer, netted yet another extra-man goal to put the Blades ahead. Matt Alvaro scored under three minutes later to lift Oakville to a 3-1 lead. Buffalo outshot Oakville 39-29, but Bacon held tough in net on quality shots while Buffalo players admitted they simply didn’t play well at moments.
“We know we messed up tonight,” said Gjurich following the game. “Saturday will be a different story.”
That’s when the Jr. Sabres will travel to Orangeville, Ontario to face the Flyers in a game they must win to claim the OJHL West. They lead the Georgetown Raiders by just one point in the standings. The Raiders play at Mississauga the same night.
Photo: Still image from Jr. Sabres game video