It’s not the way the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks wanted to start the 2017/18 W.O.A.A. Sr. “AA” Hockey League season.
Cody Britton scored on the powerplay with 22 seconds left in regulation to give the Ripley Wolves a 2-1 win over the Winterhawks on Hockey Day in Kincardine.
The rust was evident as both teams struggled to put passes together early on.
The largely pro-Winterhawks crowd in Kincardine was treated to an elite goaltending display, as the Winterhawks Jeff Flagler, and ex-Mapleton-Minto goaltender Jason Hamilton, who has found his way to Ripley, made huge saves as the legs got going.
Ripley got on the board first, with Patrick Weijak redirecting a puck past Flagler at 11:42 to make it 1-0 Wolves.
It would stay that way through one period, despite the Winterhawks outshooting Ripley, 12-7.
Missing some key offensive players (Curtis Johnston, Blake Underwood, Chris Minard & Alex Kuntz), the Winterhawks were rurty with the man advantage, struggling to get set up on the powerplay, despite a couple chances in the 2nd.
A controversial play allowed the Winterhawks to tie it up at 9:39 of the 2nd.
The Wolves thought the play would be whistled for icing when a Mike Smailes pass went too far for Jay Thomson, though the Winterhawks forward got a piece of the pass on his own side of centre ice.
The linesman waived off the icing, and as the Wolves protested, Thomson scooped up the puck and fed Trent Hawke, who was all alone in front, and he deked Hamilton to tie the game at 1-1.
The game would remain tied after 40 minutes, though Ripley thought they had gone ahead when they scored while the net was off its moorings.
Both teams came close to taking the lead in the 3rd period, but outstanding goaltending at both ends kept the game tied.
New Winterhawks defenceman Josh Hopkin got himself into trouble late when he got his stick into the Wolves Jared Colling, though it could be argued Colling fell with relative ease.
That set up Britton’s winner to give the Wolves the win, despite being outshot 45-33.
The Winterhawks [0-1-0] will be back on the ice next Friday, October 13th, for the home opener when they host the Huron East Centenaires at The Plex for an 8:30 p.m. puck drop.