The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks did what few other teams have been able to do over the past three years – defeat the Clinton Radars on their home ice.
Josh Hopkin broke a tie with less than eight minutes to play to give the Winterhawks a 2-1 win over Clinton in Game 3 of their WOAA Sr. “AA” semi-final series.
The Winterhawks came out much stronger compared to a week prior, when they put themselves out of Game 1 early on.
Several chances were generated early to test Clinton netminder Drew Reinhardt, who returned to the net after leaving Game 2 with an injury.
The Radars picked up a pair of power plays midway through the opening frame, but Jeff Flagler and the penalty killers were excellent, holding Clinton off the board.
The Winterhawks went on the power play late in the period, but their first opportunity with the extra attacker generated few opportunities.
Clinton took a second penalty as the first one was ending, and the Winterhawks capitalized.
As the clock ticked down on both the period and the penalty, Andy Mitchell deflected in a point shot with 1.8-seconds left to give the Winterhawks a 1-0 lead.
Andy Fracz and Trent Hawke picked up assists on Mitchell’s goal.
Clinton played for keeps in the 2nd period, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Flagler, but the Winterhawks netminder came up with the puck each time.
Perhaps the most impressive came on a shorthanded rush for Clinton, as the Radars player got around the Winterhawks defence for a partial breakaway, but Flagler came up with an outstanding save.
All told, Clinton outshot the Winterhawks 18-7 in the 2nd period, but the score remained 1-0 for Saugeen Shores.
Clinton picked up a power play early in the 3rd period, and it looked like the Radars had tied the game off a goal-mouth scramble after the penalty had expired, but the referee vehemently waved off the goal.
Clinton again found themselves on the power play and this time, they needed only 19-seconds to strike, as Kurtis Bartliff re-directed a shot from the point past Flagler, knotting the game at 1-1 with 10:51 to play in the 3rd period.
Not long after the goal, tempers flared as they are one to do in a playoff series, and the end result was a power play for the Winterhawks.
They were unable to score, but they kept the pressure on as the penalty expired.
Miles MacLean fed a cross-ice pass to Hopkin, and he came in off the point and fired a shot past Reinhardt to give the Winterhawks a 2-1 lead, with Trevor Smith also assisting.
Clinton poured it on again as the clock ticked down, but Flagler was again unbeatable in the Winterhawks net, making 42 saves as they hung on for the 2-1 win.
The Winterhawks now lead the best-of-seven series 2-1, and will be home on Sunday night for Game 4, with a 6:00 p.m. start at The Plex.