Despite a valiant third period comeback, the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks dropped the opening game of their quarterfinal series with the Tillsonburg Thunder.
Mike Rebry buried his own rebound at 18:16 of overtime to give Tillsonburg a 5-4 win in Game 1 of the series.
The Winterhawks came out with momentum early, but Tillsonburg goalie Tommy Lee made several early saves.
The script almost seemed to write itself moments later, as Eric Langridge got the Thunder on the board.
The Port Elgin native snuck in off the point and fired a quick shot past Winterhawks netminder Jeff Flagler to put Tillsonburg up 1-0 on his hometown team.
The Winterhawks picked up a power play later in the period, but couldn't solve Lee.
Tillsonburg expanded their lead to 2-0 at 5:31 of the 2nd period, when Matt Pasztor got enough on a shot to sneak through the feet of Flagler.
Chances came, including a shorthanded breakaway for Connor Patton, who fired wide of the net, as the Winterhawks looked to get on the board.
The dam finally burst late in the period, as Brent MacDermid managed to fire a pass in front as he was being knocked to the ice by the Tillsonburg defender.
The pass went right on the stick of Miles MacLean, who snuck it through Lee to get the Winterhawks on the board at 18:23 of the 2nd period.
A sleepy start to the 3rd period cost the Winterhawks dearly, as Tillsonburg struck 15 seconds into the period to make it 3-1, then again 52-seconds later to give the Thunder a 4-1 lead.
To their credit, the Winterhawk did not go gently into the night.
Michael Johnstone cut the lead to 4-2 at 6:28 of the 3rd, taking a centering feed from Trevor Smith and burying the puck behind Lee.
A Winterhawks power play followed, and it was Trent Hawke who struck, sneaking in behind the Tillsonburg defence and redirecting a pass from Lauchlin Elder past Lee to make it a one-goal game at 8:47.
Momentum had clearly shifted to the Winterhawks as they barraged the Tillsonburg net, looking for the equalizer.
Lee made several big saves, until Elder got in behind the Tillsonburg defence and sniped a goal top shelf on Lee to bring The Plex crowd to their feet, tying the game at 4-4.
The Thunder picked up a power play minutes later and Flagler came up huge for the Winterhawks, keeping it tied and sending the game to overtime.
The extra frame was tilted in the Winterhawks favour, but Lee was unbeatable in the Tillsonburg net.
The Rebry winner came off the rush, as the Tillsonburg forward got a step on the Winterhawks defenceman and though Flagler made the initial save, Rebry grabbed his own rebound and made no mistake.
Tillsonburg leads the best-of-seven series 1-0, with Game 2 tonight [Saturday] in Tillsonburg at 7:30 p.m.
'HAWKS DONATE TO LOCAL POLICE
Prior to puck drop, the Winterhawks presented a cheque to the Saugeen Shores Police Service K.I.D.S. Program in the amount of $2,000.
Winterhawks goalie and Constable Matt Tutin accepted the cheque on behalf of the police service.
The money was raised during the Port Elgin Bears jersey auction on Dec. 28.