COCHRANE, Ont. – The Oakville Blades (OJHL) promptly erased a one-goal third period deficit by striking five times in under a six-minute span to stun the Cochrane Crunch (NOJHL) 6-2 Wednesday evening to wrap-up Day 2 play at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Junior A Championship at Tim Horton Events Centre.
With the victory, the Blades improved to 2-0 in the four-team event and have clinched top spot overall and have earned a berth directly to Saturday’s title game, regardless of their final round robin game Thursday afternoon vs. Thunder Bay.
The vaunted Oakville power play helped the OJHL title holders open the night’s scoring as Payton Reeves’ pass attempt to Kyle Potts actually clipped off the stick of a Crunch defender and bounced high into the top corner past Cochrane netminder Zach Wickson at 14:18 for the lone marker of the first frame.
It stayed 1-0 Blades into the latter stages of the second session when the Crunch broke up a rush into their own zone, and on quick transition, the DHC hosts turned the puck back up to Trent Grimshaw, who broke into the Oakville and fired the equalizer under the pads of Will Barber to knot the affair at 1-1.
Cochrane wasn’t done there however, as Grimshaw forced a turnover in the final moments of the stanza then slammed in the go-ahead goal off a Jonas Leas set-up with just 1.8 seconds left to take a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
The Blades countered quickly in the third though, tallying five times in rapid succession to stun the hometown crowd and blow the contest open.
Spencer Kersten started the outburst at 3:24 as he flew down the left wing and tucked one between the legs of Wickson.
They then added another 71 seconds later as Thomas Maia went upstairs over the glove to put the OJHLers back into the lead for good.
Oakville kept coming as Christian Girhiny won a race to the puck off his own dump in and promptly went top shelf to make it 4-2.
A goaltending change that saw Bradley Dobson replace Wickson, didn’t slow Oakville down though as Josh Nixon banged in the rebound of an initial attempt to add to the lead.
Nixon then forced a turnover deep in Crunch territory and fired a shot towards the net that was deftly redirected by Kersten to finish off the frenzied offensive eruption by the OJHLers.
Kersten, along with Nixon, finished with three points to earn player of the game accolades for Oakville while Grimshaw did likewise for Cochrane.
Shots on goal favoured the Blades by a 37-27 margin with Barber picking up the win.
Wickson suffered the loss, allowing four against on 27 attempts, while Dobson saved eight of 10 in relief.
Round robin play concludes Thursday as Thunder Bay (SIJHL) meets Oakville at 2:30 p.m. while the Crunch and fellow NOJHL-side, the Hearst Lumberjacks square off at 7:30 p.m. in a preview of Friday’s semifinal.
All Dudley-Hewitt Cup games will be streamed live and on demand via HockeyTV.com.
Photos by (see more at) OJHL IMAGES