THE OAKVILLE BLADES
Representing the Ontario Junior Hockey League at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup are the Buckland Cup champion Oakville Blades.
The No. 3 ranked team in the entire Canadian Junior Hockey League, Oakville claimed their first OJHL title since 2010.
They also won their league in 2008.
Postseason play saw the Blades skate to an impressive 16-3 record enroute to the OJHL crown.
They needed just five games to win each of their first three playoff series. They skated to triumphs over Brampton, Buffalo and Markham before sweeping the defending OJHL and Dudley-Hewitt Cup champion Wellington Dukes in their league final.
FORWARDS: Pacing the Blades offensively in their run to the title was the trio of Spencer Kersten, Peyton Reeves and Jack Ricketts who combined for 67 points to finish third, fourth and tied for fifth respectively in overall OJHL playoff numbers.
Kersten led the way with a dozen goals, and as many assists, as his 24 points led his squad.
Reeves was right behind him with 23, including 18 helpers, while Ricketts racked up 20 points on eight markers and dishing out 12 assists.
Thomas Maia also cracked the Top 10 in OJHL playoff scoring with 17 points in 19 games on six tallies while setting up 11 more.
During the regular season, Kersten collected a team-high 60 points as he scored 20 times and provided 40 helpers in 49 outings.
Maia was close by with 58 points as he too tallied 20 times while Kyle Lewis collected 55 points along the way.
DEFENCEMEN: Oakville also got significant offensive contributions from blueliners Callum Jones, Garrett Pyke and Ryan Nicholson in the playoffs.
Jones led the Blades D-corps with 13 points, which tied him for third overall among all OJHL rearguards.
Pyke picked up 12 points and Nicholson had eight as all three finished in the Top 10 in D-men scoring in the playoffs.
On the back end, Pyke led all OJHL defencemen in scoring with 55 points during the regular season as he registered 12 goals and provided 43 assists.
He also notched four game-winning goals.
GOALTENDERS: Will Barber was the man between the pipes for Oakville in the playoffs, as he started all but one of his club’s contests in the postseason.
His efforts saw him lead all OJHL netminders in wins (16), goals-against average (1.37), save percentage (.949) and shutouts (3), among those with 200 or more minutes of game action.
Barber was a stellar 22-4-2 during the regular season for the Blades and sported a stingy 1.92 goals-against average along with a solid .925 save percentage and seven shutouts.
Chris Elliot meanwhile went 22-5 with a 2.54 average and a .909 save mark. He also posted four shutouts.
BEHIND THE BENCH: Guiding the Blades is head coach Mike Tarantino.
His team had a league-best 94 points to finish first overall in the 22-team league as they went 44-5-2-4 before continuing to roll in the playoffs.
Tarantino’s efforts earned him OJHL Coach of the Year laurels.
BLADES BITS: Oakville is making their first Dudley-Hewitt Cup appearance since 2010. … The Blades won that event held in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., when they defeated Thunder Bay in the final. … Oakville currently has 11 players committed to NCAA Division I programs. … Spencer Kersten was named OJHL playoff MVP, earning the Brent Ladds Trophy. … The Princeton University NCAA commit finished up with points in nine consecutive playoff outings and had 24 points in all, in 19 games, including a dozen goals. … Oakville converted at a 18.99% clip on the power play in the playoffs, scoring 15 times in 79 chances. … The penalty kill saw them finish at 93.85%, which was second-best in the OJHL. … They also notched three shorthanded markers. … During the season, Oakville was third in the OJHL on the PP at 20.58%. … They ended up seventh on the PK at 85.39% and produced nine man-down markers. … The Blades boasted a 10-game winning streak during the campaign and also had an eight-game run at one point. … Kersten, Maia and Lewis all had seven game-winning goals during the season. … Kersten had three more game-winners in the playoffs while Ricketts, Maia, Josh Nixon and Kyle Potts had two each. … Kersten tied for the league-lead in postseason power play goals with four. … Peyton Reeves led the Blades in power play goals during the year with eight. … Harrison Israels and Potts were next with seven each. … Oakville has won their previous two Dudley-Hewitt Cup appearances, back in 2010 and 2008 in Newmarket, Ont. … The Blades sweep of Wellington in the Buckland Cup Final was the first time since 1998 the OJHL championship series went just the minimum four games.