The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks punched their ticket to the second season with a dominating win over the Lucknow Lancers on Friday night.
The Winterhawks clinched a spot in the “AA” playoffs with an 8-3 win over the visiting Lancers, paced by the line of Lauchlin Elder, Miles MacLean and Brent MacDermid, who had four points each.
The Winterhawks came out a bit sluggish, as Head Coach Jim Grieve suggests they perhaps overlooked their 12th-place opponent.
“It took us a little while to get going, but we overcame the adversity as a group and that’s a good sign,” said Grieve.
Lucknow got on the board first, as Ean Moffat made a two-on-one play to get the puck to Cole MacPherson, who deked around Winterhawks netminder Matt Tutin to make it 1-0 Lancers at 8:19.
The Winterhawks struck back on the power play at 11:18, as Elder converted a nice passing play with a one-timer tap-in, with assist to MacLean and Jacob Brown.
The Lancers got it back near the end of the period, as Lucknow captain Chase Chapman led an end-to-end rush, capped off with a feed to Cole Pellett, who beat a helpless Tutin to make it 2-1 Lancers after one.
Nick Quaid evened the score again at 5:02 of the 2nd, when he got alone in the slot and ripped a wrist shot past Lucknow netminder Nathan Watson, with assists to Bryan Kazarian and Andy Fracz.
The pesky Lancers took the lead back just over a minute later when Moffat scooped up a rebound near Tutin and was able to get enough on a shot as he was falling to the ice to get the puck to just barely slide over the line to make it 3-2 Lucknow.
The Winterhawks picked up a power play and Chris King was able to convert after picking up a rebound for his first goal of the year, assisted by Brown and Elder, making it a 3-3 tie.
Justin Ainslie, known more for his physical play, scored his first career goal as a Winterhawk with nine-seconds left in the period to give the Winterhawks a 4-3 lead, one they would not relinquish.
The Winterhawks came out flying in the 3rd period, putting the game away with an exclamation mark.
MacDermid made it 5-3 just 52-seconds into the period, Elder converted in the slot at 4:26, followed by MacDermid again 30-seconds later to make it a 7-3 game for the home side.
MacLean would cap off the scoring, with assists to MacDermid and Brown to make it an 8-3 final.
Tutin didn’t have a busy night in the net, but he made 16 saves for the win, while the Winterhawks directed 52 shots toward Watson, who held his team in the game for most of the night.
Elder was named The Wismer House Player of the Game for his two goal, two assist effort.
The Winterhawks are now jockeying for position with the Milverton Four Wheel Drives and Shelburne Muskies, who are one point ahead of the Winterhawks in a tie for 5th-place in the league, while the Winterhawks are trying to hold off the 8th-place Huron East Centenaires, who are just one point back.
The Winterhawks will be back in action tonight [Saturday] for a meeting in Shallow Lake against the Crushers, start time is 6:00 p.m.
PETROLIA FORFEITS THREE: The WOAA board of directors ruled on Thursday that the Petrolia Squires had dressed an ineligible player for three games earlier in the season. The Squires had won all three games, and those results have now been ruled forfeits. As a result, Petrolia drops from 6th place to 11th place and out of the “AA” playoffs. Milverton, Huron East and Lucknow have been awarded wins.