Winterhawks can’t complete comeback against Ripley

The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks dug the hole too deep as they couldn’t erase a three-goal deficit in the 3rd period on Friday night against the Ripley Wolves.

The Winterhawks fought back with two late goals, but fell 5-4 to the Wolves in front of a solid holiday crowd at The Plex.

Ripley jumped out early on a goal by Brett Catto, who picked up a loose puck in the slot and put a picture-perfect wrist shot over the shoulder of Winterhawks netminder Jeff Flagler.

The Wolves would go up 2-0 at 13:01 when Dylan Sayle found a loose puck at the side of the net, shoveling it past Flagler, who was helpless on the play.

The Winterhawks couldn’t get much going, struggling to generate chances well into the 2nd period, made worse when Ripley went up 3-0 on a goal by Nick Seiler, who blasted a slap shot past Flagler.

The lacklustre play continued at 11:54, when Ryan Dudgeon was allowed to walk out in front of the net uncontested and the former Winterhawk put a backhander past Flagler to put Ripley out to a commanding 4-0 lead.

The Winterhawks finally woke from their slumber late in the period, when Josh Hopkin fired a low wrist shot from the point that snuck through a crowd in front and past Ripley netminder Kurt Edwards, with assists to Chris Minard and Bryan Kazarian.

Down 4-1 to start the 3rd, the Winterhawks began a comeback attempt, cutting the lead to 4-2 when Andy Fracz beat Edwards with a wrist shot from just inside the blue line at 2:36 of the 3rd.

The momentum was short-lived, as Ripley answered back just 15-seconds later when Shawn Stewart was left alone in front and he converted to restore Ripley’s three-goal lead.

Fracz would again begin the comeback attempt at 13:31 on the power play, taking a feed from Brent MacDermid from behind the net, converting to cut the Ripley lead to 5-3.

With time winding down, the Wolves again found themselves in the box, and the Winterhawks would score on the power play.

The Wolves penalty killer attempted to clear the puck down the ice, but Minard was able to glove the puck down, and he had a clear lane to the net, snapping a beautiful wrist shot into the top corner to make it a one-goal game with just under 90-seconds remaining.

With Flagler on the bench, the Winterhawks pressed for the equalizer, but ran out of time, falling 5-4 on the night.

Minard was named The Wismer House Player of the Game for his two-point effort.

The Winterhawks will be back in action on Friday night, January 5th, when the travel to Clinton to take on the undefeated Radars at 8:30 p.m.

Big thank you to the Special Olympics Central Bruce Shrikes floor hockey team for carrying the Bruce Telecom flags and participating in the 1st intermission shootout!

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