COCHRANE, Ont. – The Oakville Blades (OJHL) prolific special teams was pivotal as they scored four times on the power play and added another while shorthanded as they went on to dismantle the Thunder Bay North Stars (SIJHL) 9-4 Thursday afternoon in Day 3 competition at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Junior A Championship at Tim Horton Events Centre.
It took the OJHL-champion Blades just 153 seconds to open the scoring in the contest as Harrison Israels collected the rebound of a Jack Lyons point shot and snapped it past Thunder Bay starter Dougie Newhouse.
Oakville added another, via the power play, at 11:09 as they worked the puck around freely and eventually saw Josh Nixon bury it from slot for his third of the week.
Going back to the man advantage moments later, the Blades flexed their extra-man mite yet again with Ryan Nicholson and Israels again both finding the back of the net, in rapid succession, while up a skater for their second and third power play tally of the frame.
They then capped off the one-sided session at 17:55 with Spencer Kersten also connecting for a third time at the DHC to finish off the offensive onslaught in the period.
A fourth Oakville man advantage effort, which came off the stick of Nathan Ribau, extended the Blades lead six and a half minutes into the middle stanza.
The North Stars eventually got on the board midway through the second when Kyle Auger snapped one from the point that beat Chris Elliot in the OJHLers net.
Thunder Bay came back and added another at 10:36 with Jayden Mrakic firing one in from the right side.
Oakville got that back before the session expired, while shorthanded, as Tanner McEachern outraced a North Stars defender to the front of the net and chipped one over the blocker of Newhouse with one hand to make it 7-2 after two.
Kersten collected another, on a deflection four minutes into the third to give him seven points in three DHC outings.
After the Blades’ MaEachern and the North Stars’ Auger traded tallies, Keighan Gerrie rounded out the scoring for Thunder Bay in the late going to wrap things up.
Blades goalkeeper Elliot made 17 stops to record the win while Newhouse allowed the nine against on 28 attempts in the season-ending loss for Thunder Bay.
Player of the Game honours was presented to defencemen Cameron Hatziloannou and Auger.
Round robin play concludes tonight at 7:30 pm in an all-NOJHL match-up between the host Cochrane Crunch and the Hearst Lumberjacks.
Those same two teams will meet again Friday in the semifinal with the winner there meeting Oakville in the Dudley-Hewitt Cup final Saturday. Both of those contests will get underway at 7:30 p.m. at THEC.
All Dudley-Hewitt Cup games will be streamed live and on demand via HockeyTV.com.
Photo credit: Timothy Bates, DHC Images
Cochrane Crunch (NOJHL-Host)
Hearst Lumberjacks (NOJHL)
Oakville Blades (OJHL)
Thunder Bay North Stars (SIJHL)
Tuesday, April 30
Oakville 4 Hearst 2
Cochrane 4 Thunder Bay 1
Wednesday, May 1
Hearst 3 Thunder Bay 0
Oakville 6 Cochrane 2
Thursday, May 2
Oakville 9 Thunder Bay 4
Hearst vs. Cochrane 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 3
Semifinal: 3rd round robin vs. 2nd round robin 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 4
Final: Semifinal winner vs. Oakville 7:30 p.m.
DHC winner advances to Canadian National Jr. A Championship, May 11-19, in Brooks, Alta.