As the 2017/18 WOAA Sr. Hockey League season heads into the stretch drive, the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks are still searching for some elusive consistency.
The Winterhawks missed another opportunity to get above the .500 mark on the season, dropping a 4-3 decision to the Durham Thundercats on Dec. 22 to fall to 6-7-1 on the season.
It was a game that had Head Coach Jim Grieve scratching his head, after a solid 1st period and a 3rd period that saw the Winterhawks pressure the Thundercats all period, the ‘Hawks slumbered through a 2nd period that saw them give up three goals.
“We played very well in the 1st period and we showed up again in the 3rd period, but definitely in the 2nd period, we took the period off,” said Grieve. “That was the game.”
It’s a crucial point in the season for the Winterhawks, pitting them in a race they are not used to.
The Winterhawks sit tied for the eighth-and-final “AA” playoff spot with the Huron East Centenaires with six games remaining.
While the ‘Hawks are very aware of who is behind them, there’s still an opportunity to climb into a higher playoff seeding, as they sit one point behind the 7th-place Shallow Lake Crushers with two games in-hand and three points behind both the Shelburne Muskies and Petrolia Squires.
Before they worry about what others are doing, Grieve says the Winterhawks need to take care of their own business, including this Friday when the 11-3-0 Ripley Wolves come to town.
“We need to start beating the teams above us, that’s for sure, whether it’s now or in the playoffs, we have to start putting 60 minutes together,” said Grieve. “I thought we were heading in that direction, but maybe we need to re-evaluate.”
The Winterhawks and Wolves have met once already this season, back on Day 1 in Kincardine on Oct. 7th, a 2-1 win for Ripley on a power play goal in the dying seconds of the game.
“They have a quick team, they roll three solid lines that can create havoc,” said Grieve. “We’re going to work hard at practice and we’ll be ready for them.”
The Wolves dynamic attack is lead by the duo of Cody Britton and Brett Catto, who each have 20 points on the season, followed by former pro Brent Walton, who has registered 14 goals and four assists in just seven games played this season.
Josh Hopkin continues to lead the Winterhawks in scoring, with 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists), with Miles MacLean (13 pts.) and Bryan Kazarian (12 pts.) not far behind.
The Winterhawks host the Ripley Wolves at 8:30 p.m. at The Plex on Friday December 29th.