The Buffalo Jr. Sabres became the first OJHL team to move on to the second round of the league playoffs, sweeping the Burlington Cougars in four games.
The teams kicked off the postseason on February 25 with game one in Buffalo, as a hard-fought game ended with a 6-5 overtime victory for the Jr. Sabres.
Burlington took an early lead just 34 seconds in on a goal by Steven Mueller, but Buffalo came back with a pair of goals from Max Mikowski and Nolan Sheeran in under four minutes to tie it and take the lead. Burlington would even the score with a goal by Daniel Campbell just a few minutes later.
The Cougars would score a pair of goals to take a 4-2 lead halfway through the middle frame, as Mike Sones notched both goals. Sean Federow would bring Buffalo within one, scoring on the powerplay at the 15:23 mark.
Down by one entering the third period – and still down by one halfway through the last frame – the Jr. Sabres came back with a pair of goals from Tyler Gjurich to first tie, then lead, the game.
Finally, Tyler Mayea would tie the game once more with less than three minutes remaining to force the game into overtime, where Buffalo’s Max Mikowski would score 1:54 in to give the Jr. Sabres a victory.
After Buffalo took game one, the teams went right back at it the following day, this time in Burlington. Ryan Schmelzer had a pair of goals, and Parker Gahagen stopped 34 shots as Buffalo took a 6-3 win from game two.
Dylan Howatt, Alex Dagnal, Pat Egan and Nathan Sucese also scored for the Jr. Sabres. Cougars goals, meanwhile, came from Jeremy Gottzmann (2) and Mike Sones.
Burlington went 0-for-7 on the power play, while Buffalo was 1-for-3. Seward received a game misconduct just 47 seconds into the second period. Tyler Gjurich, Max Mikowski and Frank Hora each had a pair of assists for Buffalo in the win.
After two days off, teams came back together for the third game of the series on March 1 in Buffalo.
The Jr. Sabres opened the scoring with a goal by Sean Federow, but the Cougars would tie it up a few minutes later on a goal by Jeremy Gottzmann. Less than a minute into the second period, Tyler Gjurich scored a shorthanded tally to give Buffalo the lead.
Nick Scamurra would up the lead at the 12:55 mark of the second period, making it 3-1 in favor of the Jr. Sabres – but Burlington wasn’t ready to give up. Steven Mueller scored at 16:41 of the second, followed by a Cooper Richards goal just under six minutes into the third, to tie up the game at three apiece.
Max Mikowski would score a go-ahead goal for Buffalo at the 6:09 mark of the third, but Mike Sones would score his fourth goal of the playoff series to tie the game at four.
After regulation ended with the game squared away – and the first overtime proved fruitless – the teams were pushed into a second overtime. Less than a minute after Buffalo’s Ben Casale took a holding penalty, the Jr. Sabres were able to notch a shorthanded goal as Tyler Gjurich scored to win the game for Buffalo.
The Jr. Sabres and Cougars met for the fourth game of the series on Sunday, March 3.
Burlington opened the scoring just twenty seconds in as Mike Sones scored to give the Cougars a very early lead. They maintained the lead for the majority of the first period, until Buffalo’s Pat Egan scored on the power play to tie the game at one.
Burlington’s Brett Coulson scored with just over a minute remaining in the first period to give the Cougars the lead – but that was all for the team, as Buffaloroared back to score five unanswered goals through the rest of the game.
Tyler Gjurich and Nolan Sheeran tallied in the second period, while Sheeran, Gjurich and Brian Ruff scored in the third to give Buffalo the 6-3 game victory and a 4-0 series sweep.
Buffalo’s second-round opponent is yet to be determined, but it’s expected that the next round will begin the week of March 11. The Jr. Sabres will face either the Oakville Blades, North York Rangers or Toronto Lakeshore Patriots.