The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks were facing a daunting task, but still battled to the bitter end against the Durham Thundercats.
Durham scored at 6:02 of overtime on their second power play of the extra frame, capturing a 6-5 win and sweeping the series in four games.
“We showed a lot of resilience tonight, and I have to give credit to the guys in the room, they weren’t going to give up without a fight,” said Head Coach Jim Grieve.
As had been the storyline of the series, the Winterhawks could not contain the Durham power play, which struck for all six goals in the deciding Game 4.
“The power play was working well for them, give Durham credit, they have a great team,” said Grieve. “They’re going to give their next opponent a heck of a run.”
Durham opened the scoring at 10:55 with a power play goal by Chris Brown, and followed it up five minutes later with a power play goal by Jim Hutchinson to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
The Winterhawks got one back on a power play of their own before the opening period was over, as Brent MacDermid banged a loose puck past Durham netminder Gatlin Burt to cut the Durham lead to 2-1.
A wild 2nd period saw 13 penalties and five goals scored, starting with MacDermid’s 2nd of the night on a breakaway at 9:38, assisted by Greg Thede, tying the game at 2-2.
The tie was short-lived, as Durham struck back on the power play less than a minute later, with Jim Hutchinson making it 3-2 Durham.
Andy Mitchell would tie it up again 15 seconds later banging the puck past Burt on the short side to make it a 3-3 tie.
Brown’s 2nd of the night followed 28 seconds later, as Durham used the power play to once again restore their lead at 4-3.
Durham would end up on the power play again moments later, and Brown would complete the hat-trick at 13:20 to give Durham a 5-3 lead.
The Winterhawks would kill off another Durham power play in the 3rd period, as Jeff Flagler made several huge saves before veteran Bryan Kazarian went to work.
Chris Minard would miss the net on a long drive, and MacDermid picked the puck up off the end boards and threw it on net, and Kazarian was right in front for the rebound, beating Burt to make it a 5-4 game at 11:33 of the 3rd.
The Winterhawks pushed for the equalizer in the dying minutes and with Flagler on the bench for the extra attacker, Kazarian would net his second on a beautiful feed by Blake Underwood to make it a 5-5 tie, sending the game to overtime.
The Winterhawks killed off an early slashing penalty for Mitchell before being whistled for too many men on the ice immediately afterwards, setting up an overtime winner by Justin Graham.
Thede picked up two assists on the night and was named The Wismer House Player of the Game, in recognition of not only a big night for the veteran, but also his 11 seasons as the captain of the Winterhawks.
“There’s a good core of veterans here, Greg Thede, Bryan Kazarian, Curtis Johnston, just to name a few, a good core of guys that have been here for 9 or 10 years,” said Grieve. “This is a high level hockey league and they do really well out there, they’ve represented us well.”
The Winterhawks organization thank all of the fans and sponsors who make it possible for us to put a team on the ice each season. Without you, we can’t do what we do.
A huge thank you to the players, coaches and support staff who dedicate every weekend of the fall and winter to entertaining us.
We’ll see you all back at the rink for the 2018/19 season!