OJHL: The Fight for First


File photo courtesy of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres

Two of the top three teams in the OJHL face off tonight, as the Buffalo Jr. Sabres host the Georgetown Raiders in a 7:30 p.m. matchup this evening. Buffalo and Georgetown each have 70 points on the season, just two shy of Trenton for first overall in the league.

The Jr. Sabres and the Raiders have several things in common. First of all, both teams have 70 points on the season; they also each have won 30 games in regulation, one in overtime, and two in shootout.

They have nearly identical opposite records at home and on the road; Buffalo is 14-3-2-5 at home, while Georgetown is 14-1-4-6 on the road. The Raiders are 16-2-0-6 at home, while the Jr. Sabres are 16-0-2-6 on the road.

Both teams are also coming off recent victories, and both teams have won five of their last six games.

The Raiders’ winning ways date back to January 12; in every game since then, they’ve earned at least a point, winning all but one. The team’s most recent victory came in a 4-3 shootout win over Orangeville on February 2.

The Jr. Sabres are on a four-game winning streak, with the most recent victory coming on January 28 in a 5-4 shootout win over Toronto Lakeshore.

Forward Alex Botten leads Georgetown with 65 points total this season, including 25 since he joined the Raiders. Brendan Woods also has 58 points (23-35) in 48 games, and defenseman Tyler McCarthy leads the team with 143 penalty mintues.

Goaltender Gabe Grunwald has played 1,138 minutes this season, winning 12 of 22 games and notching a 2.58 GAA and .912 save percentage. He’s allowed 49 goals against and has 509 saves this season with Georgetown.

As for Buffalo, forward Tyler Gjurich has been on a hot streak this season, scoring 45 goals and adding 41 assists for 86 points in just 46 games played. He leads the OJHL in goals and points scoring. Ryan Schmezler has 60 points on the season, while Pat Egan is just one goal away from his 25th.

Parker Gahagen has played 37 games in net for Buffalo, winning 25 and allowed 97 goals against on 1,235 shots faced. He has a 2.59 GAA and .921 save percentage.

Tonight’s game is the fifth meeting between the teams, with each having won a pair so far this season. Georgetown took the first game, a 4-1 win on October 28, before Buffalo delivered a crushing 7-0 blow on November 8. The Jr. Sabres once again came out on top via shutout on December 1 by a score of 3-0, while the Raiders were victorious on January 5 in a 4-2 win.

This is the final meeting between the Raiders and Jr. Sabres this season.