The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks saved one of their best efforts of the season for when they needed it most.
The Winterhawks were full marks for a 6-2 victory over the Tavistock Royals in Game 3 at the Southampton Coliseum on Friday night.
The two sides picked up where they left off last weekend, setting a physical tone, with plenty of end-to-end action.
Tavistock opened the scoring just over five minutes into the game, as Sean Kienapple fired a quick shot past Winterhawks starter Jeff Flagler to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
The Winterhawks answered right back just over a minute later, with Miles MacLean pouncing on a Tavistock turnover, getting the puck to Justin Donnelly, who found Josh Hopkin alone in the slot.
Hopkin tucked the puck around Tavistock goaltender Zach Shomphe to tie the game at 1-1.
Goals came fast and furious late in the period, as Chad Jones put the Winterhawks ahead 2-1 at 16:32 of the 1st, firing a hard wrist shot past Shomphe, with assists to Matt Shields and Jay Thomson.
Tavistock picked up a power play mere seconds after the goal and capitalized, with Angus Rowland deflecting a point shot in off his skate at 17:03 to knot the game at 2-2.
The Winterhawks again bounced right back after a Tavistock goal, as MacLean broke in to the Tavistock zone just 40-seconds later and fired a quick shot past Shomphe to restore the Winterhawks lead at 3-2.
Josh Deyell and Mike Smailes assisted on the MacLean goal, which held up through the end of the first period.
The Winterhawks kept the pedal down in the second period, controlling the play for much of the middle frame.
The dam finally broke at 7:44 of the second, as MacLean scored one of the prettiest goals of the season.
The Winterhawks leading scorer beat the Tavistock defender wide, then tucked the puck around Shomphe while flying through the air, giving the Winterhawks a 4-2 lead and bringing the Coliseum crowd to its feet.
The Winterhawks power play had been stymied by the aggressive Tavistock penalty killers all series long, but finally broke through late in the period, as Mike Fiegehen fired a hard shot past Shomphe to extend the Winterhawks lead to 5-2.
Logan Freiburger and Matt Shields assisted on the power play goal.
The lead held through the 3rd period, though the two teams who were unfamiliar with each other to start the series, started to display playoff animosity late in the period.
Plenty of pleasantries were exchanged, and the Winterhawks found themselves at a two-man disadvantage late.
Tavistock pulled the goalie to make a three-skater advantage, but Andy Mitchell forced the puck out of the Winterhawks zone and despite a Tavistock player hanging off of him, got enough on a shot to roll the puck over the goal line to make it a 6-2 final.
MacLean was named the Wismer House Player of the Game with two goals and one assist on the night.
Tavistock leads the best-of-seven series 2-1, but the Winterhawks can draw even as they head to Tavistock on Sunday afternoon for Game 4 at 1:00 p.m.
Boxsore via Gamesheet Inc.