The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks will return to the ice on February 4th as they take on the Tavistock Royals in playoff action.
With the provincial government announcing easing of restrictions as of January 31st, the Winterhawks and the rest of the W.O.A.A. Sr. Hockey League teams are cleared to resume the 2021/22 season.
As previously announced
, the regular season has been declared complete and the season will proceed directly to the playoffs.
In what should be a highly entertaining series, the Winterhawks will take on the Tavistock Royals in the best-of-seven quarterfinal round of the Sr. "AA" playoffs.
Game 1 is scheduled for Friday February 4th at 8:30 p.m. at The Plex, before heading to Tavistock the following night for Game 2.
Due to the Ontario Tankard curling event at The Plex, the Winterhawks & Royals will head to the Southampton Coliseum for Game 3 on Friday February 11th.
The Winterhawks finished the regular season with a 9-4-2 record, while Tavistock finished up the abbreviated season with an 8-4-1 record.
This will be the first time the two teams have faced each other outside of the championship series. They have met three times in the finals, in 2009, 2012 and 2013, with the Winterhawks prevailing each time.
The Winterhawks offence will take its cues from a former Tavistock Royal, Miles MacLean, who skated for Tavistock for four seasons before coming home to play with the Winterhawks.
MacLean finished the season as one of the top scorers in the league, netting 23 points (13 goals, 10 assists) in 14 games.
Michael Johnstone, who has been staying sharp skating with the ECHL's Iowa Heartlanders during the shutdown, finished behind MacLean in team scoring with 15 points in 14 games, while Lauchlin Elder had 14 points.
Tavistock's offence runs through the duo of Trevor Sauder and Devon Kropf, who had 20 and 19 points, respectively. Royals newcomer Collin Hartwick had four points in three games and should be familiar to the Winterhawks after playing the past couple seasons with Minto.
It should be a classic battle of offence vs defence, as the Royals scored an average of 5.53 goals-per-game, while the Winterhawks averaged over a goal fewer per game, netting an average of 4.46 goals per game.
The Winterhawks leaned on goaltending and defence throughout the season, with goaltenders Jeff Flagler and Eric Peicheff combining for an impressive goals-against average of 2.93 during the regular season.
Tavistock's goaltending trio of Jensen van Boekel, Zach Schomphe and Tanner Topham combined for a goals-against average of 3.85.
COVID-19 requirements are expected to remain largely the same as they were prior to the shutdown.
Proof of vaccination or exemption will be required to enter The Plex & Coliseum, contact tracing will be logged and masks will be required at all times within the arenas.
Please note the Hawks Nest and lobby food booth are closed until further notice and fans are not permitted to bring outside food or drink.
The provincial government has updated regulations to include the ability to serve and consume food and beverages at sporting events. The Hawks Nest will be open, however, fans may not remove their mask until they are seated.
Capacity will be restricted to 50% of seated capacity, with 500 spectators permitted at The Plex, and 300 fans allowed at the Coliseum.