2017-2018 Game Recaps
Mar. 1 – Game 3 of Finals vs. Springfield 5-1 L
The biggest crowd of the series packed the Remax rink at the Bell MTS Iceplex for the championship game 3. The Buckeyes came out playing quality hockey. Some adjustments and a day off seemed to do wonders as Miles Mac had their legs and were neutralizing the heavy Springfield forecheck with better passing and sharper breakout patterns. The Sabres weathered the storm early and then capitalized on a turnover to take a 1-0 lead. The Buckeyes would then go down two men after a interference call and then a questionable bench minor call by the head referee. The Buckeyes paid for the mistake and went down 2-0. The Sabres had all the momentum, but the Buckeyes kept fighting and regained some control. Late in the second the Buckeyes would strike on a power play of their own when a nice shot from Scott Hryhoruk was deftly tipped in by Josh Boucher, notching another goal for the MMC playoff leader. The game went into the intermission at 2-1. With one period for all the marbles the Buckeyes came out strong, but had their backs broken by two beautiful goals midway in the frame. Logan Waskul beat Brandon Kowalchuk with a seeing eye shot to the top corner to make it 3-1. Then it was made 4-1 after a great individual effort by the Sabres resulted in a breakaway. The Buckeyes kept battling and had some great opportunities on a powerplay and several even strength to try and get back in it, but Slesak made some big stops. The Sabres would salt it away late with a fifth goal to win the game 5-1 and take the series.
The Buckeyes made a great playoff run, but in the end fell just short of reaching that crown. It was a series that could have gone either way, but in the end a very talented team had a little more finish and are worthy champions. The Buckeyes were 2-19-3 at the Christmas Break. They went 11-9 in the new year, competing with and beating several of the top teams in Manitoba, finishing as one of the top ten teams in the Province, just short of a spot in the MHSAA tournament. At times it was a tough road with some hard lessons, but the squad should be proud of where they were able to get to in the end.
Feb. 27 – Game 2 of the Finals vs. Springfield 3-2 L
The rink was packed again, but this time it was the Sabres who dominated the first period. Playing with their season on the line, Springfield was hard to handle on the forecheck and evetually potted one on a PP for a 1-0 lead. Josh Boucher would strike just eight seconds later, burying a quick shot from the top of the circle after a turnover by Springfield. With the score tied the Buckeyes struggled to generate many offensive chances as the Sabres were bottling things up nicely. Springfield would get the go ahead marker in the second on a snipe from captain Logan Waskul and take a one goal lead into the intermission. The Buckeyes came out and had a much better third period, tying the game on a bizarre goal early. Luke McMillan fired one in on a rush, it missed the net, but took a lively bounce off the backboard, struck Sabre goalie Matt Slesak in the back of the leg, and crossed the line. Unfortunately the plucky Sabres would regain the lead midway through the frame on another goal from the dangerous top line. With the net empty the Buckeyes knocked on the door but could not force OT, dropping game 2 and forcing a deciding game 3 in two days time.
Feb. 26 – Game 1 of the Finals vs. Sprngfield 2-0 W
The MTS Iceplex was packed with fans from both schools as the two teams got ready to faceoff in the inaugural A Division Tier II Final. The Buckeyes were without Luke McMillan, Ried Sierhuis, and Scott Hryhoruk due to injury, but looked to continue their momentum from last week. The Buckeyes came out strong against the Sabres, carrying the play and scoring the first goal. Liam Eori continued his hot streak with a goal, Reid and Pelletier drawing the assists. Both teams had quality chances in the second period but both Kowalchuk for the Buckeyes and Slesak for the Sabres were steady in the net. Springfield found me jump in the third and threatened to tie the game on many occasions, but some great saves and some solid D-zone play kept the Buckeyes in front. Then, with four minutes left, Eori would strike again, with his linemates contributing assists a second time. That would prove to be the dagger as Kowalchuk would register his first shutout of the playoffs and the Buckeyes would win their third straight game to take game 1 by a score of 2-0. The team has how won five of six in the playoffs and are one win away from the crown.
Feb. 22 – Game 3 of SF at Oak Park 4-3 W (SO)
It was a do or die game with a ticket to the Finals on the table for the winner. The Buckeyes would have to exorcise their Eric Coy demons in order to advance. Early on it looked like the play from a day earlier would carry over as Miles Mac had several chances. However, Oak Park would score shorthanded on a fluke play after a bad bounce behind the net for goaltender Brandon Kowalchuk. This gave the home squad confidence and the Buckeyes began to get a bit scrambly and a step behind. The Raiders would build up a commanding 3-0 lead and looked in control. However, the Buckeyes started to generate some opportunities in the latter half of the period with players like Josh Boucher, James Clyke, Liam Eori, and Nick Reid providing the spark on the forecheck. The Buckeyes got a late second period power play and made good on the man advantage. Clyke and Boucher provided great traffic in front and a solid shot by Brady Tyslau from the point was tipped in by Boucher to make it 3-1. The boys rallied in the room and came out and carried on with the momentum, drawing two penalties. Treye Namaka would score on the two man advantage, depositing the puck in the right corner after it bounced from behind the net. Luke McMillan would tie it, burying it in the same corner on a goal mouth scramble. From there it was Brandon Kowalchuk time. Both teams traded glorious chances, but #33 had to come up with some big league stops. This was especially true on the PK as the Buckeyes had to kill off a late third period penalty and had to survive almost 4 full minutes of 4-3 disadvantage in OT. In the shootout, Kowalchuk robbed Oak Park’s best shooters in Wicha and Ringland and stopped all five shots he faced. Neilson, Pelletier, Boucher, and Dewar were all denied until Liam Eori ripped one top corner glove side in round 5 to clear the bench and start the celebrations. The Buckeyes prevail in dramatic fashion and head to the A Division II Finals next week!
Feb. 21- Game 2 of SF vs. Oak Park 5-3 W
With the season on the line the Buckeyes were a new team from a day ago. Playing in front of a big home crowd at Gateway, Miles Mac carried the play and pushed the pace. Treye Namaka opened the scoring on a breakaway after a nice stretch pass from Luke McMillan. They would carry the momentum into the second period as Liam Eori would waste no time depositing a shot from the slot after a forced turnover and beautiful pass from Chris Pelletier. The Buckeyes dominated the first two periods and carried a 2-0 lead into the intermission. The Raiders pushed back with the help of a powerplay, making it 2-1 part way through the third. Oak Park would then even the score with a point shot that hit a few bodies on the way in. All of a sudden we had a tie game with just 7:21 remaining. Then, the Buckeyes turned the puck over and gave up a breakaway to Raider sniper Charlie Ringland, but Brandon Kowalchuk made a huge stop, providing the turning point of the game. The Buckeyes would not be denied as captain Luke McMillan put on home after goaltender Liam Johnson misplayed a cover attempt. Just 30 seconds later the Raiders would leave Josh Boucher all alone in front and #15 buried to make it 4-2 with 6 minutes left. The Raiders would not go away however, as they would pull back within one just thirty seconds later, setting the stage for a wild final few minutes. The home squad would prevail when Kahl Dewar put in the empty netter for a 5-3 win in game 2, evening the series at one game a piece.
Feb. 20 – Game 1 of SF at Oak Park 4-1 L
The boys struggled out of the gate in the semi-final after their impressive sweep of Dakota in the quarters. The first period was very sloppy but Oak Park was not able to capitalize and the frame ended 0-0. The Buckeyes hoped to reset for the second period but the disjointed play continued. The team struggled to make passes and were overskating or fanning on pucks. This time the Raiders took advantage and built a 2-0 lead going into the intermission. Still in the game despite the lacklustre performance the Buckeyes began to play better hockey and turn the momentum a little bit. Unfortunately, in a play emblematic of the game itself, a fluke turnover in front of their own net led the Buckeyes to surrendering a 3-0 lead late in the third. Nick Reid would bury a beauty a minute later but the Raiders snuffed out the comeback on a goal by captain Charlie Ringland in the final minutes. Game 1 ends 4-1. The Buckeyes will need to find a way to have some success at Eric Coy if they are to come back in the series. The team dropped their final regular season game in that rink 8-1 in one of the least inspiring efforts of the season.
Feb. 15 – Game 2 of QF vs. Dakota 4-2 W
The Buckeyes have been talking about building towards the playoffs all season, and are finally waking the walk after quite a bit of talk during the dog days of the season. The team was fired up as they hit the ice at Gateway looking to close out the series. Josh Boucher got the party started with a first period goal on a shot as he flew down the right wing. He would add another goal later in the period with some determined play in front for a 2-0 lead. He would almost score the natural hat trick late in the period as well, only to be robbed on a deflection. The Buckeyes were getting some solid work out of all three lines and looked like the team everyone had been waiting to see. The squad found themselves down two men but managed to kill it off. The Lancers showed some push back when they notched one mid-way through the period, but Luke McMillan would score a few minutes later on a shot that found the top corner from the point. The Buckeyes continued the habit of responding quickly to Dakota goals to take a 3-1 lead into the intermission. The Buckeyes seemed to be in control but the Lancers got a late power play and made good on it to cast the result in doubt. However, on cue, the Buckeyes would score quickly to restore the two goal advantage when Riley Choboter scored his second of the series on another seeing eye shot from the point. The Buckeyes would salt away the final few minutes for the impressive win and series victory. Miles Mac will meet Oak Park in the semi-finals of A division tier II.
Feb. 14 – Game 1 of QF at Dakota 3-2 W
It may have been Valentine’s Day but both Dakota and Miles Mac were ready for a playoff battle. The Lancers were 2-0-1 during the season against the underdog Buckeyes and took an early 1-0 lead in the game on a PP attempt. However, the Buckeyes stormed back with a beautiful goal by Aaron Neilson who beat the Dakota goalie low blocker on a blast from the slot. The home squad would regain the one goal lead in the second period at the tail end of another PP, but the visitors would respond quickly again, showing some resilience when it counted most. This time it was Josh Boucher tipping home a nice shot from the point. The game would head into the third period knotted at two. Both teams would trade chances over the final 20 minutes, but it was the visitors that would get the go ahead goal. With just 2:30 remaining Aaron Neilson won a puck deep on the forecheck, got it to James Clyke who deftly slid it across to Riley Choboter who made no mistake scoring on the back door. The Buckeyes would hold on with starting goalie Brandon Kowalchuk making two great stops with the Lancers pressing with the extra attacker. The Buckeyes take a 1-0 lead in the best of three series.
Feb. 9 – at Oak Park 8-1 L
The Buckeyes ended the regular season on a sour note, coming up with one of their worst performances of the season. The team just didn’t seem to have their legs or much resolve in dealing with a Raiders squad that came to play. Oak Park jumped out to a 2-0 lead early, but the visitors did respond to draw within one. It was a beautiful goal as Cody Nixdorf picked up the puck at the blue line and fired a shot-pass to the side of the goal where Nick Reid was coming across the goal mouth and promptly deflected it home. The boys could not build on it however. The Buckeyes had some excellent PP time, pressure, and looks, but could not bury. Directly at the end of the PPs the Raiders created a breakaway and buried and that seemed to be all she wrote. Not a great way to end the year, but if you are going to lay an egg and may as well be here, and not next week. The Buckeyes will open up the playoffs with a quarter-final matchup vs. Dakota.
Feb. 1 – at Transcona 7-2 L
Coming off a big win against RE and two in a row the Buckeyes could not make it three against a very strong TCI squad. The Titans jumped on the visitors early capitalizing on a couple turnovers for a 2-0 lead. After a big hit by Boucher and a couple strong shifts the Buckeyes stabilized things, and Luke McMillan buried on a shot from the slot. However, the Titans took a 4-1 lead into the intermission as penalties started catching up with the Buckeyes. McMillan would draw the visitors closer with his second of the night, an absolute beauty as he undressed the Titans D and the goaltender with some slick moves. That was all the Buckeyes could muster though, as the Titans speed and a steady parade to the box by MMC ensured that the squad ended up on the wrong end of the score.
Jan. 31 – vs. River East 6-1 W
The boys put a bow on a pretty good January with a convincing 6-1 thrashing of the #5 ranked team in Manitoba and our local rival. The floodgates finally opened for the Buckeyes as the focus on goal scoring in practice paid some dividends. Nick Reid ended his own goal drought with a PP marker in the first, and the Buckeyes led 1-0 at the end of the frame. Brady Tyslau picked off an errant Kodiak pass at the blue line and buried low blocker to give the home team a 2-0 lead early in the second. The Kodiaks would reply a minute later on the PP. The teams traded chances for the rest of the 2nd as both teams took turns taking ill advised penalties. At times the Buckeyes have been flat after the intermission but on this day the 3rd period belonged to Miles Mac. McMillan (2), Boucher, and Eori (on a nifty rush and pass by Choboter) would put pucks behind the goal line in the 3rd, with two of the goals coming on power plays. The team had a chance to put the opponent away and took full advantage. An important lesson as this team progresses and gets hot for playoffs. Tough road matchup at Transcona tomorrow.
Jan. 26 – vs. Vincent Massey 2-1 W
The team continued their long January homestand with a game against the Trojans. Both teams were coming off games the previous day, with Massey scoring an upset over River East. The game was similar to the one a day earlier for the Buckeyes. Some solid hockey but zone time was not yielding grade A scoring chances. The game went into the intermission at 0-0. Early in the third the Buckeyes finally solved the Massey goaltender Jack Shaffer when Chris Pelletier buried one on a goal mouth scramble. The Trojans answered just three minutes later on a PP marker to even the score once again. This time the home team would not be denied. In a happy role reversal it was the opponents who took an undisciplined penalty with under 3 minutes left in the game. The good guys promptly capitalized when Josh Boucher positioned himself in front and put home a rebound with Kahl Dewar and Luke McMillan peppering the goalie from the point. Brandon Kowalchuk would stand strong between the pipes and the team would get some key blocks from Liam Eori and Josh Boucher with Shaffer out of the net for the extra attacker. Full marks to the Buckeyes for the 2-1 win.
Jan. 25 – vs. Lord Selkirk 4-1 L
It was a rare Gateway home game for the Buckeyes. The last match-up between these two teams featured a Miles Mac squad that was injury plagued but almost stole a win in Selkirk. Today, the Buckeyes had a number of bodies back and took advantage, carrying play for long periods but not turning it into enough offence on the scoreboard. The home squad even generated two breakaways and several two on ones, either being denied by a good save or just not finishing. Treye Namaka was the only one to solve the Royals goalie, and the score was 2-1 going into the third. The equalizer was just out of our grasp, and then the Royals buried two late on power plays to make the score less flattering to the Buckeyes than gameplay would suggest. Outside of the last five minutes the team showed discipline, character, and grit, just need some finish!
Jan. 19 – vs. Dakota 3-1 L
The Buckeyes continued their homestand with a big game against the Lancers. It was a tightly contested match through one period, with Dakota burying a late goal for the 1-0 lead. The home squad would tie it on a power play. Aaron Neilson drove the net after a shot from Treye Namaka and put home the rebound for a textbook goal. The Buckeyes then took a series of minor penalties, and despite some great kills, including an awesome individual effort by Liam Eori to wipe out a five on three, the Lancers eventually buried one late to take a 2-1 lead into the intermission. Kowalchuk made some huge saves during the lengthy PK to keep the home squad within one. Unfortunately the home team did not seem to have that extra gear on this night, or the result could have been different. The third featured chances from both sides but no finish for the Buckeyes. A neutral zone turnover resulted in a third Dakota goal and despite some late efforts on the PP and with the net empty the Buckeyes could not rally to force OT.
Jan. 17 – vs. Sturgeon Heights 11-1 L
The Buckeyes scored just nine seconds into the game as Josh Boucher continued his goal streak. From there it got ugly. The Buckeyes had no answer for the speed and physicality of the Huskies on this night. The game got away from us and the boys just weren’t prepared to play.
Jan. 12-13 – Winkler Invitational Tournament – B side Champions with a 3-1 record
The Buckeyes built on a great start to 2018 by taking home the B side championship in Winkler. The only blemish was a 5-2 defeat to hosts NPC in game 1. The Buckeyes led 2-0 in the game and were in control but yielded a couple PP goals and some momentum late in the second and then came out with a disappointing third period. Game 2 saw the Buckeyes pepper Stonewall with 41 shots but only get two by the hot Rams goaltender. MMC took it 2-1 and Josiah Fulawka got his first win of the year. Game 3 was a great battle against our neighbourhood rival Kildonan East. The Reivers came out hard looking to prove themselves against a top division club. The teams traded goals all game and went to OT tied 3-3. That’s when Josh Boucher won it on a beauty shot on a rush after a pass from Aaron Neilson. Boucher was great in the game, sporting several bruises after blocking some shots on a late PK. The B side final saw the Buckeyes faceoff against the other host team, Garden Valley. The Buckeyes dominated from start to finish, winning 6-0 and earning Brandon Kowalchuk his second shutout of the season. Great job by the boys on the road.
Jan. 10 vs. SJR 5-0 W
The Buckeyes started 2018 off right with a convincing 5-0 shutout win vs. Ravenscourt, avenging a defeat at Dutton in October. The boys got off to a great start with an early goal by Chris Pelletier. The puck was dug up on the forecheck by Brady Tyslau and he made a beautiful feed from behind the net to the slot where a quick shot found twine. The next strike came courtesy of Josh Boucher shorthanded. #15 burst down the right side and put a low shot on the goalie and then collected and buried his own rebound for the 2-0 lead. Following that the captain of the Buckeyes displayed his speed and strength with a great individual effort, taking the puck from the neutral zone right up the throat of the Eagles and burying a pretty goal with defenders hanging all over him. The home squad took a 3-0 lead into the break. The Buckeyes had an early third period power play but ended up negating it on a hooking penalty that was followed shortly after by a cross checking double minor. Old habits seem to die hard for the boys, but this time the Buckeyes would not denied. They killed off the 4 on 3 and the brief 5 on 3 thanks to some great penalty killing by defenders like Riley Choboter and Scott Hryhoruk, both back in the Buckeyes lineup, as well as rookies Kahl Dewar and Zach Yarechewski. On the 5 on 4 McMillan would strike again on a great forecheck and wrap around attempt. The Buckeyes would bury a THIRD shorthanded goal on a beautiful bar down shot by Boucher for his second goal. It was set up by some great hustle and a nifty pass by James Clyke. From there, the boys forced ever so steady goaltender Brandon Kowalchuk to make a couple late stops to preserve his first shutout of the season. Another great performance between the pipes for #33. All and all, there were some warts and some tired legs, but a pretty sweet way to start the January push. Off to the Winkler tournament tomorrow!
Dec. 20 vs. St. Paul’s 6-1 L
The schedule maker did not do the Buckeyes any favours as the number one ranked team in the province visited Terry Sawchuk just one day after the hard fought game in Selkirk. The Buckeyes cobbled together a squad and had some good moments, but overall the team did not have the same jump as one day earlier. Though not at their best, the Buckeyes managed to keep the score 1-0 until late in the second period thanks to some great play by goaltender Brandon Kowalchuk and a decent job taking away the slot. Some sloppy play led to a goal late, and then a penalty led to a PP goal and a 3-0 lead going into the intermission. There was no quit in the team, but the Buckeyes started to tire in the third. Aaron Neilson scored a nice goal to give a lift to the home team, driving the net and burying a rebound after a nice shot by Brady Tyslau. The home team hung around until some late penalties led to a couple Crusader PP goals and a 6-1 win. The stat line wasn’t pretty, but Brandon Kowalchuk put together yet another solid performance between the pipes, stopping 41 of 47 shots. As this team heals and get closer to full strength the difficulties of the last month should help the team. Young players have had to take on big minutes and responsibilities they may not have got otherwise. The team has proven that they can compete at a high level even with so many guys out. There is no doubt that the team is improving, but the key to the second half will be to show more mental fortitude and focus in those key moments in every game that make the difference.
Dec. 19 at Lord Selkirk 6-4 L
The Buckeyes started this game against the number three ranked team with just ten skaters on the road. It was nearly a huge upset, but the Buckeyes could not seal the deal in the third. Liam Eori opened the scoring on a shot from just inside the blue line on what appeared to be a harmless rush. Lord Selkirk tied it late in the period on a power play goal. The second period featured good chances by both squads. The Royals had a three or four minute stretch of really dominant play, but Buckeye goalie Josiah Fulawka was up to the task, playing some of his best hockey of the season. The Royals did get one in the middle frame to lead 2-1 going into the intermission. The Buckeyes came out strong for the third showing some great character. Treye Namaka scored early in the period to tie it, and this was followed by a power play goal from Brady Tyslau to make it 3-2. Then, Namaka scored a beauty to the top corner for his second of the night, and the Buckeyes found themselves up 4-2 with nine minutes to play. Unfortunately, as has been the case in this season full of trials and tribulations, the Royals mounted the comeback. Taking advantage of a few mistakes and gaining momentum, the Royals tied it on two goals between 12 and 13 minutes of the third. They then took the lead on a PP goal with five to play. The Buckeyes did not quit, nearly tying it on a PP of their own, but the home team salted it away with an empty netter for the 6-4 win. Another tough lesson – but this team is learning what it takes to be successful in A division, and showing some gumption by competing with so many guys on the IR.
Dec. 13 vs. Garden City 3-2 SOL
The Gophers and Buckeyes served up a WHSHL classic in their only regular season meeting of the season. It was a wild one from start to finish. The Buckeyes opened up the scoring in the first period on a two man advantage when Kahl Dewar blasted one home from the point with Josh Boucher providing some traffic in front. The dangerous GC power-play evened the score late in the first to make it a 1-1 tie after one. The second period featured myriad chances for both sides and quite a few unsuccessful power plays. The Gophers were the only team to notch a goal, an even strength marker, to take a 2-1 lead to the third period. The Buckeyes started the last frame fairly slowly, and the game seemed to be slipping, but then they dug deep and found a goal. Treye Namaka was able to bang one home in front with assists from Liam Eori and Josh Boucher. The third featured some glorious opportunities for both sides but some stellar goaltending by the Buckeye’s Brandon Kowalchuk and the Gophers Dylan Francis. With just 2:30 remaining the Buckeyes took a double minor and it appeared that the home team was about to write the same tired story of mistakes in the final minutes. However, the boys dug deep and killed the penalty off, including 1:30 of 4-3 in the OT frame. In fact, the Buckeyes had glorious opportunities on the PK to win it, including a blast from Treye Namaka that just missed the top corner. Luke McMillan had a breakaway in the dying seconds of OT and had the goaltender beat, but just missed wide. The game went to a shootout, the second of the season for Miles Mac. GC missed on their first shot. Coach Fritzsche trotted out Aaron Neilson for the Buckeyes who did not disappoint. #97 came in with some speed and then changed his pace and wrapped it around the GC goalie for a pretty goal. After another stop by Kowalchuk the Buckeyes had the game on their stick twice but Josh Boucher and Liam Eori could not beat Dylan Francis. The shootout remained tied after 6 shooters. The Gophers buried with their 7th shot, but with ice in his veins Riley Choboter hopped over the boards and buried low blocker to keep the shootout alive. Unfortunately, the Gophers scored a beauty with their 8th shot and this time Francis stood tall to steal the win from the home side. What a game, what an effort, and a hard earned point. Not quite enough to satisfy that appetite for a W.
Dec. 8 at Gab Roy 7-3 L
The score in this one is quite deceiving as this was one of the Buckeyes better efforts of the year and we likely deserved a better fate. The boys outshot the Cavaliers 45-18 but due to a mix of bad luck and lack of finish ended up on the wrong side of the score. Gab Roy is known for their offensive skill and quick transition game and they made the most of their opportunities, scoring some pretty goals and taking advantage of some nifty deflection plays in front. The Buckeyes grinded and controlled possession but could not turn it into much on the scoresheet. The line of James Clyke, Treye Namaka, and Joshua Boucher have caught fire of late, with the latter scoring two goals and the line being responsible for all three Buckeye markers (Luke McMillan buried the other in his return to the lineup). Lots to build from in this one, but frustrating to take another loss.
Dec. 6 vs. Springfield 4-1 L
The Buckeyes returned from Montreal in rough shape with the roster whittled down considerably by injury. MMC was looking to shut down Springfield’s top line and slow the game down and this worked in the first period, with the frame ending at 0-0. After the Sabres opened the scoring the Buckeyes tied it up on Reid Sierhuis’ first goal of the season (and WHSHL career). The play developed due to some nice patience down low by Matthew Graham. He found Riley Choboter at the point who made a nifty move to get to the slot. Sierhuis drove the net and jammed one home to even the score. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes the Sabres capitalized on a late PP to take a 2-1 lead into the intermission. The Buckeyes couldn’t find the same jam in the third period, and despite a solid effort from starting goalie Brandon Kowalchuk, the scoring dried up and the game ended in a 4-1 L.
Dec. 1-3 – CHE Canadian Classic Tournament – Montreal QUE.
The boys travelled to Montreal and played four games at the beautiful Isatis Sport Chambly Arena. Prior to the games starting the team toured the city, hiking up Mont Royal, touring old Montreal, and attending the Canadiens-Senators game at the Centre Bell.
The games opened with a match against the Lockview Dragons from Nova Scotia. It was a tight game and the Buckeyes ran into a hot goaltender. Meanwhile, the Dragons took advantage of their relatively few opportunities by employing a quick transition game and really driving the net, at times pushing starting goaltender Brandon Kowalchuk back into his net. Despite a decent effort, the final score was 3-0. Later in the day, the Buckeyes took on Lord Selkirk. Down 3-0 late in the second period the Buckeyes mounted an impressive comeback by dominating much of the final fifteen minutes. Goals by Eori, Clyke, and Graham put the score to 3-3 late in the game. Then, as has happened many times this season, a late penalty gave the Royals a chance to steal the game. They managed to score late in the power play to regain the lead. They then added another one on a two man advantage in the final seconds for the 5-3 win. It was a tough pill for the team to swallow as the late penalties were at best border line calls.
The Buckeyes were able to build on the great effort from the night earlier in the game vs. Dakota, another Manitoba team. After laying an egg against the Lancers back at home a week earlier, the Buckeyes played to a 3-3 tie, tying the game late on another goal by Matthew Graham on a breakaway. The boys needed a win vs. the Blakelock Tigers from Oakville Ontario to move on to the bronze medal game. It wasn’t meant to be. Injuries, illness, and fatigue conspired to make it a difficult task that the boys weren’t quite up to. Down to just 12 skaters (and not even all of them were healthy) and missing 4 of the team’s 6 defence, the game got away from the Buckeyes despite the fact they controlled play for the first half of the game. It was a disappointing 5-1 loss to end the tournament.
The team had their share of trials and tribulations throughout the five days as the flu and injury bug struck. There were certainly some down moments, but also so many great and memorable ones in one of the best cities in the world. The team is back in the city and needs to rally together as league play commences Wednesday and Friday.
Nov. 22 at Dakota 8-2 L
This game started with a lot of promise for the Buckeyes. The boys had been playing well and had some momentum, but this one was not going to be pretty. The Buckeyes found themselves down 3-2 late in the second period and were actually in a pretty good spot. Matthew Graham notched his first WHSHL goal on a breakaway and Joshua Boucher literally used his head to redirect a Scott Hryhoruk shot to get the visitors on the board. Though down one, the guys were forechecking hard and were carrying the play. Dakota struck for two in the final minute of the second, one on a PP and one when the Buckeyes got caught with their pants down in the neutral zone. Things went down hill from there as the boys seemed unable to recapture any momentum on their way to probably their worst period of the season. Tough game – it will be important for the Buckeyes to practice hard and get back to their recent positive play.
Nov. 16 at Vincent Massey 4-3 W
The Buckeyes were visiting Silverstone Arena hungry for a win. The Vincent Massey Trojans stood in the way. Perennial a top team in the A division the Trojans brought size and speed to the game but the Buckeyes would not be denied on this night. The visitors opened the scoring when Cody Nixdorf notched his second of the season on a bit of a fortunate bounce in front. You get rewarded when you put pucks on net! The Trojans would tie it a few minutes later to make it 1-1 after one, a fitting score to an even period. The Buckeyes got in a spot of penalty trouble in the second and Vincent Massey built a 3-1 lead. This time Miles Mac was the team to show character and claw back. Brady Tyslau started the comeback on a beautiful bar-down shot on the man-advantage after some great puck movement by the power play unit of Pelletier, Reid, Hryhoruk, and Eori. After that captain Luke McMillan fully swung momentum in the Buckeyes favour by creating a turnover and burying his second shorthanded goal of the season. It was 3-3 going into the intermission. The third period was exciting with both teams generating great scoring chances, but the goalies coming up big. Kowalchuk was able to make a big breakaway save and a few minutes, on the power play, McMillan struck again with a wrap around goal after a great individual effort. The Buckeyes had to defend against a six on four after a bizarre call by the ref in the dying moments, but some key block shots by Josh Boucher and Brady Tyslau sealed the deal. This win was well deserved and needed too. Buckeyes improve to 2-7-0-1 with 7 points in the standings.
Nov. 10 at St. Paul’s 3-1 L
Playing the top ranked team in Manitoba is always a challenge. Coming off two tough losses and three games in four nights it was a recipe for disaster for the Buckeyes. Instead, it turned into a near win and a huge confidence boost for the club heading into another big week with two more league games.
The Crusaders opened the scoring on a delayed penalty by jamming home a loose puck in front after a mad scramble. The Buckeyes equalized early in the second with Kahl Dewar sniping one from the slot after a pass from Josh Boucher. The Buckeyes were going stride for stride and even carrying the play at times, and the result was some frustration from St. Paul’s. The game was physical, and the Crusaders found themselves in the box a number of times, even down two men for nearly two minutes. Unfortunately the Buckeyes power play has struggled to convert consistently, and on this night it would cost them. The Crusaders were able to kill the penalties and score one shorthanded as well.
Despite a strong effort from all 19 players dressed, the Buckeyes could not capitalize on their opportunities and ran out of time in a closely contested 3-1 loss to St. Paul’s. The Buckeyes fall to 1-7-1 but played some pretty solid hockey in the past week and have many reasons to be optimistic with 15 league games and two tournaments still on the horizon before playoffs.
Nov. 8 at Kelvin 3-2 SOL
Looking to build on a solid effort the day before the Buckeyes faced off against the Kelvin Clippers at River Heights Arena. The visiting team controlled play from the opening face off but were a little tentative around the net and were unable to capitalize on some pressure. Meanwhile, starting goalie Josiah Fulawka was steady between the pipes for the Buckeyes as the two teams pushed a 0-0 tie deep into the second period. Finally the Buckeyes struck with two quick markers. The first by an inspired Brady Tyslau who was the best player on the ice on this night. The second was put home by Scott Hryhoruk after some great work on the forecheck by the line of Matthew Graham, Alex Semko, and Reid Sierhuis. MMC held the 2-0 lead for the first 14 minutes of the third period before the Buckeyes self destructed. Some key penalties allowed the Clippers to score two power play goals, the second with just 30 seconds to go and the net empty, to send the game to OT. The Buckeyes had to kill another penalty in the extra frame, but thanks to the great efforts of Luke McMillan they had their own opportunity with the man advantage. The Buckeyes could not put it pass the Clipper goaltender and the game went to a shootout. Both Chris Pelletier and Scott Hryhoruk were unsuccessful in their attempts while the Clipper shooters put the puck home to secure the surprising 3-2 win. The Buckeyes get a point, but let two slip away in very troubling fashion.
Nov. 7 at River East 3-2 L
The Buckeyes came to play in this rivalry game but fell just short of the win. The team was buffeted by the return of all but one of their rostered players. Though the Kodiaks took an early 1-0 lead the Buckeyes fought back with two markers on special teams. Kahl Dewar converted on a two on one with Luke McMillan while shorthanded while Ryan Cowley scored a power play marker in the dying seconds of the second period to give the visiting team a 2-1 lead at the intermission. The Buckeyes came out a bit flat in the third period and got caught by a stretch pass and a breakaway marker to tie the game early. MMC then got some bad luck when a puck was coughed up in front of goaltender Brandon Kowalchuk on a freak bounce. The Kodiaks capitalized for a 3-2 lead. Despite some furious pressure the Buckeyes could not draw even in the final minutes.
Nov. 1 vs. Transcona 7-2 L
The boys were in tough here but battled hard against a skilled team from TCI. Down four guys to suspension and another to injury the lineup was decimated. The home squad did get captain Luke McMillan back for his first game, but it was still going to be a tough task. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, some turnovers and some mistakes in the defensive zone put the home team down 5-1 after just the first period. The Titan onslaught was broken up by a beauty bar-down goal by Josh Boucher, his second of the year. The Buckeyes were able to stem TCI’s offence for most of the rest of the night, and they showed some character by continuing to fight for all three periods. There were some good signs for the team moving forward as, led by rookie Reid Sierhuis, the forecheck was more effective than we’ve seen all year. The Buckeyes also buried on the Power Play when Treye Namaka scored in the third period. The Buckeyes will be close to full strength again next week for three big games against River East, Kelvin, and St. Paul’s.
Oct. 30 at SJR 5-2 L
The Buckeyes travelled to the SJR campus for a game on the big olympic ice at Dutton Arena. After surrendering the first goal the Buckeyes notched two (Namaka and Pelletier) to take a 2-1 lead into the third period. The visiting squad was carrying the play and getting a solid start from goaltender Josiah Fulawka. With just ten minutes left the game turned ugly and the Buckeyes were penalized for some undisciplined play. The result, as it has been too often this year, was a defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. SJR took advantage for three power play goals and added an empty netter for a 5-2 win. Buckeyes fall to 1-4 and continue to commit self inflicted wounds.
Oct. 27 at Springfield 4-1 L
The boys were looking to build on their big win at home on Wednesday but were unable to match the effort or the execution from that game. The Sabres jumped out to an early 1-0 lead at home and seemed to have greater urgency than the visiting squad. Joshua Boucher evened the score after forcing a turnover deep and sniping the top corner, but the goal did not spark the squad as much as it should have. The Sabres took a 2-1 lead into the third period. In the final frame the Buckeyes came unglued and returned to some of the lack of discipline seen at the Husky tournament. Inevitably the Sabres notched two PP goals, one on a two man advantage, and that was all she wrote. Buckeyes fall to 1-3 with a disappointing 4-1 loss in Oakbank.
Oct. 25 vs. Oak Park 3-2 W
It took until the seventh try, but the Buckeyes finally put together a full three periods and found their game in a big home win over Oak Park. The team seems to have found an answer to their early game slumps, coming out hard and fast again but this time putting two past the Raider goaltender. Cody Nixdorf opened the scoring with a blast from the point after some sustained pressure by the Buckeyes. Chris Pelletier added another on a great individual effort. His shot caught the goaltender’s shoulder, flew up in the air, and bounced off his back into the net. The Raiders pushed back hard in the second, burying their first of the game after the home team got into some trouble in their own end. Some hard work on the forecheck by rookie Ried Sierhuis swung the momentum a bit and drew the first penalty of the game late in the second. The Buckeyes capitalized on a blast from the point by Scott Hryhoruk after a feed from Aaron Neilson. The Buckeyes took the 3-1 advantage into the third period, and after a huge penalty kill were in the driver’s seat late. Goaltender Brandon Kowalchuk was excellent in the game, but got beat on a fluke shot with five minutes remaining to make the home crowd nervous. However, the Buckeyes would not be denied on this day and were able to lock it down late. It wasn’t always pretty and by far not a perfect game but it was a solid first win for the club.
Husky Tournament Oct. 19-Oct. 22
The boys played four games at the Iceplex in this early season tournament. The Buckeyes opened with a disappointing loss to the River East Kodiaks. Nick Reid scored his third goal in three games but that was all that MMC could muster, despite a two man advantage late in the game. Kowalchuk was brilliant in the pipes, especially early as the Buckeyes started slow for a third consecutive game. REC took it 2-1.
In the middle two games the Buckeyes took on Steinbach and College Jeanne Sauve. Employing a new warm-up the team came out strong but struggled to find the twine in the opening periods of each game. In both games the team came unglued in the second period, falling victim to a few questionable calls but mostly undisciplined play. Both opponents took full advantage as the Buckeyes surrendered 8 goals while shorthanded, pretty much determining the outcome of each game. Though there were some highlights, including another goal by Nick Reid and some strong segments of team play, the games were frustrating. The boys learned some hard lessons and got some experience facing adversity.
In the final game against Westwood the Buckeyes bounced back and seemed to find some chemistry and some jump. For the first time in the season the boys opened the scoring and controlled most of the play. Despite outshooting the Warriors the Buckeyes found themselves down 5-3 going into the third period. After surrendering one early in the third the Buckeyes turned it up a notch and poured it on down the stretch. A soft call late in the third seemed to snuff out the momentum and the boys ran out of gas in the come back attempt, dropping a 6-5 decision. Goals were scored by Pelletier (2), Namaka, Reid, and Tyslau. It was a solid effort, though the team has to clean up its fundamentals and its defensive play in the coming games to succeed. The tournament saw no wins, but it was an important step in the process of building this team and finding what will make the Buckeyes successful.
Oct. 18 – vs. Gabrielle Roy 7-4 L
It was not the home opener that Miles Mac envisioned. The Cavaliers jumped all over the Buckeyes in the early going of the game, racking up a 4-0 lead six minutes into the game and chasing the starting goaltender Josiah Fulawka. The Buckeyes shook off the bad start and began to play better hockey. Scott Hryhoruk got the home team on the board with a rush from his own end culminating in a shot that deflected off a defender and found the back of the net. The lead was narrowed five minutes later when Treye Namaka got in hard on the forecheck and put one home. Gab Roy got a key goal late in the period by Joel Delorme to cool off the comeback attempt, but Nick Reid buried his second of the season early in the third to make the score 5-3. Again though, Delorme struck to snuff out the momentum making it 6-3. The Buckeyes showed a lot of fight, with Chris Pelletier scoring a PP marker to narrow the lead to two, but that was as close as the home team would get. Gab Roy would put one more in the empty net to drop the Buckeyes to 0-2.
Oct. 13 – at Sturgeon Heights 2-1 L
The Buckeyes opened up the regular season on the road versus the Sturgeon Heights Huskies. The boys looked sharp in their new black away jerseys, but not quite complete. The Buckeyes were without Chris Pelletier, Scott Hryhoruk, Luke McMillan, Matthew Graham, and Josiah Fulawka, leading to some line shuffling and a little added adversity to an already tough task against the highly rated Huskies.
The Huskies jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first two periods, and without the stellar play of starting goaltender Brandon Kowalchuk the Husky lead would have been greater. The squad from Sturgeon Heights were playing in a gear that the Buckeyes could not match consistently as they were first to and harder on pucks. Despite this, the Buckeyes had chances to make the Huskies pay for their aggressive forecheck. Both James Clyke and Kahl Dewar had breakaways in the first period but could not solve the goaltender. While Miles Mac could not match the speed of their opponent they didn’t back down physically as Josh Boucher led the charge with some large bodychecks. The boys hung in there looking for a spark for the third.
The team seemed to come out with a little more urgency in the final frame. Kowalchuk was not called on to be as stellar as he had to be in the first few periods, and some frustration started to set in for the Huskies. With five minutes remaining the Buckeyes got a two man advantage and Nicholas Ried buried the first Miles Mac goal of the season jamming home a rebound in front. The Buckeyes couldn’t convert on the second part of the power play. With the net empty the Buckeyes had a few chances, including a really good one in the dying seconds, but couldn’t force OT.
Though it would have been great to steal one or two points, the Buckeyes were not the better team on this night. There were definitely some positives to build on, especially the fight the boys showed in tough circumstances. The Huskies improved to 2-0 on the season while Miles Mac starts at 0-1. The Buckeyes next game is the home opener vs. the 1-1 Gab Roy Cavaliers on Wednesday Oct. 18 at 4:30 PM at Terry Sawchuk Arena.