The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks will open the WOAA Sr. "AA" playoffs at home after defeating the Elora Rocks on Saturday night
The Winterhawks defeated Elora by a score of 7-2, in the process securing at least the 3rd seed in the "AA" playoff bracket and home ice advantage through at least the first round of the playoffs.
Andy Mitchell opened the scoring just 43-seconds into the game, as the Winterhawks took it to a short-staffed Rocks squad.
Lauchlin Elder and Connor Patton picked up assists as the Winterhawks grabbed the early 1-0 lead.
Not letting up, Blake Underwood scored his first of two on the night at 3:35 of the 1st, with Jay Thomson and Trevor Smith assisting.
Elora's Kevin Tuckey cut the Winterhawks lead to 2-1 at 16:06 of the 1st, but the Winterhawks answered right back 39-seconds later as Adam Kading made it 3-1, from Mike Rocca and Michael Johnstone.
The Winterhawks peppered Elora netminder Colin Dunne with 25 shots in the 1st, while Jeff Flagler made 11 saves in the Winterhawks net.
The second period was more even in the shots department, but the Winterhawks broke it open on the scoreboard, scoring a pair of goals.
Thomson extended the lead to 4-1 at the seven-minute mark, with assists to James McHaig and Jamie Shoemaker.
Patton made it a 5-1 lead late in the period with a shorthanded goal, with assists to Smith and Mitchell.
With the standings jam-packed and goals-for/goals-against a factor in tiebreaker scenarios, the Winterhawks did not let up in the 3rd period, as Underwood netted his second of the night at 9:17 of the 3rd, with assists to Trent Hawke and Greg Thede.
Elora got one back to make it 6-2, but Kading's second of the night at 18:22 capped the scoring, with Rocca and Johnstone assisting.
Flagler made 27 saves for the win as the Winterhawks outshot Elora 51-29, while the team's record improved to 16-4-0 on the season.
The standings are crowded at the top, as the Ripley Wolves sit in first place with 34 points and two games remaining, followed by a four-way tie for 2nd place at 32 points, which includes the Winterhawks, Shelburne, Clinton and Seaforth.
Thanks to tiebreakers, the Winterhawks are guaranteed to finish ahead of Clinton and Seaforth, who have both concluded their regular season schedules.
The Winterhawks will travel to Shelburne next Friday night, January 31st, for a battle with the Muskies that will, in all likelihood, determine 2nd place. The Puck drops at 8:45 p.m.
The regular season wraps up the following night, February 1st, when the Winterhawks travel to Ripley to face the Wolves at 7:00 p.m.
Boxscore via Gamesheet Inc.