It promises to be a highly entertaining match-up between two of the strongest teams in the W.O.A.A. Sr. Hockey League.
The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks and Clinton Radars will begin their semi-final series on Friday night in Port Elgin, pitting the number-one ranked team in the league against the 2015/16 league champions.
The Winterhawks will look to dethrone the Radars, but it will take nothing short of a total team effort, explained Head Coach Jim Grieve.
“We definitely have to play a full 60 minutes and we have to have a good start,” said Grieve. “The coaching staff have to make sure we’re ready to go and everybody is up as soon as the puck drops.”
The Radars boast one of the most explosive offensive attacks in the league, running out a quartet of former pros in Tyler Doig, Kurtis Bartliff, Matt Kennedy and Ryan Murphy.“They’re a fast skating team, lots of offence and a good defence,” said Grieve. “I think we match-up well with them and we’ll be able to play our game a lot better.”
It might be an ideal time for the Winterhawks to line up against Clinton, as Grieve points out there are no injuries to report and a full lineup is expected to be available on Friday.
Grieve said there was always an expectation that the Winterhawks’ path to a championship was going to go through Clinton, so there’s no reservations about meeting up with the Radars.
“I’m glad we’re playing Clinton, you always want to play against the best,” said Grieve. “The challenge is to play the way we can, put our best effort forward.”
TALE OF THE TAPE
|2016/17 regular season (League rank in parenthesis)|
|18-1-1 (1st)||Record||12-6-2 (4th)|
|114 (2nd)||Goals For||110 (3rd)|
|42 (1st)||Goals Against||65 (3rd)|
|15.7 (9th)||PP %||20.8 (3rd)|
|85.5 (6th)||PK %||86.5 (4th)|
|Curtis Johnston / Bryan Kazarian (28)||Leading scorer (pts.)||Kurtis Bartliff (39)|
The Winterhawks will have home ice advantage in the series and it might prove significant, as Clinton has technically lost only once at home all season, though it came at the hands of the Winterhawks, who came from behind to beat the Radars 4-3 in overtime back on November 18th.
Clinton also lost a home game by forfeit to Milverton back in October. Though the Radars initially won the game 5-4 in a shootout, the result was later overturned when it was discovered Clinton had dressed a suspended player.
The Winterhawks and Radars met up in Port Elgin on December 23rd, with the Winterhawks handing a makeshift Clinton squad a 6-2 loss. Clinton dressed only eight regulars in the game.
The series may come down to the battle between the pipes, with Clinton’s Marc Nother expected to get the call for the Radars. Nother posted an 11-3-1 record in the regular season, with a 2.86 goals-against average.While there’s no reason to expect any surprises in the Clinton crease, Grieve wouldn’t reveal his hand on how the Winterhawks will assign goaltending duties, as Blake Sinclair and Jeff Flagler have split the crease this season, the only goalies in the league to surpass Nother’s numbers.
The winner of this series will advance to the league final against the winner of the other semi-final series between the Mapleton-Minto 81’s and Petrolia Squires, which is also scheduled to begin on Friday night in Palmerston.
|Game 1||Friday February 24th||8:30 p.m.||Port Elgin|
|Game 2||Saturday February 25th||8:30 p.m.||Clinton|
|Game 3||Friday March 3rd||8:30 p.m.||Port Elgin|
|Game 4||Saturday March 4th||8:30 p.m.||Clinton|
|*Game 5||Friday March 10th||8:30 p.m.||Port Elgin|
|*Game 6||Saturday March 11th||8:30 p.m.||Clinton|
|*Game 7||Sunday March 12th||3:30 p.m.||Port Elgin|
|* – if necessary|