Playoff preparations underway despite opposition uncertainty

The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks don’t know who they will face in the first round of the W.O.A.A. Sr. “AA” playoffs, but they want to be ready for whomever they wind up drawing.

The Winterhawks have locked up top spot in the league and know they will face the 8th-seeded team, but a logjam in the standings heading into the final weekend of regular season play paints a murky picture.

The Winterhawks will finish 1st and the Mapleton-Minto 81’s will finish in 2nd place, but those are the only spots no longer up for grabs.

next-game-jan-27The teams currently ranked 3rd through 8th are separated by just three points.

Petrolia sits at 25 points with two games to play, Tavistock is in 4th at 24 points with their schedule complete, Durham and Ripley are tied at 23 points with one game apiece remaining, while Clinton and Tillsonburg are tied at 22 points. Clinton has two games to play, while Tillsonburg has one.

The Huron East Centenaires remain alive in the playoff race, though the only scenario remaining for them to sneak into the “AA” playoffs is to win all three of their remaining games this weekend, and for Clinton to lose both of their remaining games in regulation.

Before the playoff situation is settled, though, the Winterhawks have one more regular season game remaining, as they host Durham this Friday in Port Elgin.

Despite having nothing left to prove in the regular season, Head Coach Jim Grieve says the Winterhawks plan to ice a full lineup, with the possible exception of players on the injured list, who will likely be rested for the playoffs.

Momentum is key heading into the playoffs and the Winterhawks want a win to finish off the regular season.

“We have a couple guys that are injured right now, and if they need an extra week, we’ll definitely give it to them,” said Grieve. “We don’t want to go into the playoffs on a sour note, so we want to make sure we’re coming with a complete game.”

Grieve pointed out the Winterhawks set two goals for the regular season and they’ve already accomplished one of those goals by finishing in 1st place, now they want to finish with the best goals-against average in the league.

Barring a total meltdown, the Winterhawks will complete their regular season bucket list on Friday, as they enter the game having given up 41 goals against in 19 games, 18 goals fewer than the next-best defensive team, Mapleton-Minto, who have allowed 59 goals against in 19 games. It would result in the Senior “AA” Best Goaltending Average trophy being co-awarded to Blake Sinclair and Jeff Flagler.

The Winterhawks wrap up the regular season on Friday night against the Durham Thundercats, 8:30 p.m. start in Port Elgin.

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