2024 centennial cup blades deadline

Blades set sights on home stretch

Four months before they host the 2024 Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons, the Oakville Blades are ready to make their move in the Ontario Junior Hockey League

Jason La Rose
January 18, 2024

With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror and their roster set, the Oakville Blades have turned their attention to the Road to the Centennial Cup.

The Blades, who will play host to Canada’s National Junior A Championship at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex from May 9-19, made a handful of moves prior to the Jan. 10 deadline as they look to finish strong in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL).

Oakville’s deadline-day acquisitions were both picked up with an eye towards offence; Noah Tyrrell was the leading scorer with the North York Rangers with 37 points (17-20—37) in 32 games, while Kenny Belanger comes over from the Soo Eagles of the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL) after posting 43 points (22-21—43) in 34 games.

The Blades also acquired Kyle Kussmann from the Leamington Flyers on Jan. 8, providing depth to the forward unit.

While the defence has been terrific – Oakville is one of four OJHL teams to allow less than 100 goals thus far (it’s fourth with 94) and goaltender Gavin McCarthy has fashioned a 2.58 goals-against average and .927 save percentage (good for fourth in the OJHL) – the offence is looking for another gear down the stretch; the Blades rank 17th in the 24-team OJHL with 112 goals, a big reason they find themselves sixth in the West Conference with a 19-14-1-2 (W-L-T-OTL) record.

If they want to make a move up the standings, the Blades will have to be road warriors; they play 13 of their final 19 games away from Sixteen Mile. They’ll play seven games against the five teams ahead of them in the West, but also six against teams whose points percentage sit below .500.

Most of all, Oakville will need to find a little consistency in the final seven weeks of the regular season; since rolling off a season-high seven-game win streak from Sept. 27 to Oct. 13, the Blades have won more than two in a row only once, a three-game run from Dec. 19-22.

Oakville was well-represented at the OJHL All-Star Game last weekend, with McCarthy, Luke Johnston and Sean Clarke part of the West Conference roster. Johnston, the Blades’ leading scorer (15-24—39), finished with a goal and two assists in a 7-5 loss to the East Conference.

Clarke, an Oakville co-captain, will be leaned upon heavily as the Centennial Cup gets closer; he was a member of the Collingwood Blues a year ago when they won the OJHL title and made a run to the quarterfinals at the national tournament, registering an assist in five games before an off-season trade to the Blades. He has been very good in his first season in Oakville, posting 37 points (8-29—37) in 35 games.

The 2024 Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons, will mark the fourth appearance for the Blades at the national championship, all since 2008.

They missed out on the semifinals in 2008 and 2010 before making a run to the final four at the 2019 National Junior A Championship in Brooks, Alberta, dropping a narrow 2-1 decision to the Prince George Spruce Kings.

Oakville will be the last team to open its tournament, taking on the champions of the Maritime Hockey League to wrap up Day 2 of preliminary-round play on May 10. It will also face champions from the SIJHL, Manitoba Junior Hockey League and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League in the prelims.

Ticket packages are on sale now, with options available for adults, seniors, children and families.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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