Winterhawks edge 81’s in battle of top teams

The Winterhawks passed one of their biggest tests of the season as they edged the second place Mapleton Minto 81s by a 6-4 margin on Saturday night.

It was an entertaining matchup and a huge win for the Hawks who now hold a commanding 6 point lead atop the WOAA.

Andy Mitchell played one of his best games of the season opening the scoring midway through the first with a bullet of a snap shot high to the glove side, beating 81s goalie Josh Leis.

The Hawks got a break later in the first as Mitchell notched a shorthanded goal after a Mapleton defenceman lost his footing and Mitchell swooped in to grab the puck and beat Leis high to the blocker side with a great move to the backhand.

The Winterhawks lead evaporated in the span of 23 seconds in the second as Zack Graham scored on a power play followed quickly by Joel Petkoff.

There was no panic from the Winterhawks who continued to pressure Mapleton rolling four strong lines and Jeff MacDermid connected to restore the lead.

Alex Kuntz, who has a nose for the net, got to the right spot and connected with 12 seconds left in the second.

Mapleton closed the gap early in the third on a goal that appeared to be offside judging by the reaction of fans and the Winterhawks bench.

Theo Peckham helped light a fire under his teammates as he dealt a thundering hit on Brock Zinken against the far boards.

Alex Penner helped keep the momentum in the Winterhawks’ favour as he pounced on a loose puck in the slot and shoveled it behind Leis to make it 5-3.

The 81s refused to quit as Graham scored his third of the game but Curtis Johnston restored the two goal margin as he finished off a pretty three-way passing with linemates Bryan Kazarian and Trent Hawke.

The two teams will meet again next Friday night as the Winterhawks travel to Palmerston to put their 15-game winning streak on the line for an 8:30 match-up.

The Winterhawks next home game is Friday, Jan. 20 when the Ripley Wolves come to town.

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