(Amherst, NY) – What fans attending the Northtown Center at Amherst watched Monday night could be a sneak preview of a first round matchup in the Ontario Junior Hockey League playoffs. That could change, of course, with a tightening race for 4th place in the OJHL West Division. But if Buffalo and the visiting Burlington Cougars are destined to face each other in the first round, fans could be in for a spirited and physical series. They certainly showed that last night.
Last night at the Northtown Center, Buffalo jumped out to an early lead and didn’t wilt following setbacks. Kollin Schultz scored the Jr. Sabres’ first goal at the 2:48 mark of the first. Mark Arnone and Alex Dagnal got the assists.
Burlington’s Gavin Shantz evened the score at the 6:37 mark of the second period with his unassisted effort.
The teams held firm at 1-1 heading into the third period. Then, at the 12:16 mark and on the power play, Dylan Howatt followed up on his own shot and stuffed in the rebound for the go-ahead goal. Seconds later, the Jr. Sabres increased the lead to 3-1 when Shane Bennett added a goal, assisted by Arnone and Larry Smith.
Goatender Parker Gahagen earned the win for Buffalo with 26 saves. Burlington’s Mann turned aside 39 of 42 Buffalo shots.
The Cougars recorded 20 penalty minutes while Buffalo recorded 24 minutes.
The Jr. Sabres, who earned two points for the victory, now hold a tighter grip on third place in the OJHL West Division. The Cougars are now tied with Milton for fifth place but trail the Hamilton Red Wings by only three points. Buffalo’s next opponent is the Red Wings, who host the Jr. Sabres in Hamilton next Monday.