(Hamilton, ON) – Very slowly, the Hamilton Red Wings are creeping up on the Buffalo Jr. Sabres in the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s West Division standings. Saturday night in Hamilton, they gained a point on the visiting Jr. Sabres by winning 7-6, in overtime, in a back and forth contest that saw the lead change several times.
Buffalo quickly found its way into the penalty box and Hamilton made their guests pay, with Luke Laidlaw scoring a power play goal just 1:37 into the first period. Buffalo’s Shane Bennett responded with two goals to give the Jr. Sabres a 2-1 lead which they carried into the intermission. Dennis Playfair and Ryan Schmelzer assisted Bennett’s first goal while Larry Smith and Tim Kielich assisted the second.
Like the first period, Hamilton pounced on a power play opportunity early in the second, with Cam Jude tying the game, 2-2, at the 1:08 mark. Michael Greenberg put the Red Wings back in the lead about two minutes later. Larry Smith countered for Buffalo, with his goal (assisted by Tim Kielich) knotting the game at 3-3. Mark Arnone (assisted by Schmelzer and Jonas Fredrikkson) then gave the Jr. Sabres a 4-3 lead. Dalton Jay’s power play goal for Hamilton at the 16:24 mark tied the score at 4-4, but Buffalo’s Smith scored his second of the night (assisted by Ryan Stayner and Matt Mahoney) to restore the Jr. Sabres’ lead heading into the second intermission.
Less than five minutes into the third period, Hamilton evened the score then gained the lead on goals by Yanni Rallis (unassisted) and Benjamin Walsh (from Oliver Hyman and Ryan Lewis). Once again, Buffalo countered when Alex Dagnal scored at the 10:12 mark (assisted by Mahoney and Chris Luker) to tie the game at 6-6. Both sides held firm for the rest of the period, and it was off to overtime.
Buffalo outshot Hamilton to begin the extra session, but the Red Wings’ Cam Jude scored his second of the game to lift the hosts to a 7-6 victory.
Jr. Sabres goalie Parker Gahagen got the start and made 32 saves. The Red Wings’ Dalton McGrath turned aside 39 of 45 Buffalo shots.
The Jr. Sabres earned a point for the regulation time tie and still hold third place in the OJHL’s West Division with 40 points. Hamilton, by gaining the extra point for the OT win, trails Buffalo by just five points in the standings.
The Jr. Sabres return to game action Tuesday night when they return to the Northtown Center at Amherst to host the Georgetown Raiders.