The start of a weekend set got off to a rough & tumble start.
The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks and Creemore Coyotes did not have much history between each other heading into the game Friday night at The Plex, but that didn't stop the two teams from engaging in a chippy, physical affair.
Creemore came from behind to take a 5-4 overtime win in the first of two between the two teams this weekend.
Matt Shields opened the scoring just over three minutes into the game, converting in front from Jamie Shoemaker and Jordan Vanhaelemeesch to give the Winterhawks a 1-0 lead.
Creemore answered back less than two minutes later off the rush to even the game at 1-1.
Two sides exchanged shots and pleasantries as the intensity ratcheted up, and the floodgates opened momentarily late in the period.
Josh Hopkin fired a breakaway pass to Luke Pither and he made no mistake, tucking the puck into the top corner on Creemore goalie Tyler Brindle to make it a 2-1 Winterhawks lead at 13:35 of the first.
Creemore answered back off a big slapshot in the slot with 2:24 remaining in the period to tie the game up again, this time at 2-2.
The Coyotes pressed again and went ahead just over a minute later off a defensive zone turnover by the Winterhawks to take a 3-2 lead.
This time, it was the Winterhawks turn to answer back, and they did so before the end of the first period, with Lauchlin Elder notching the tying goal from Mike Fiegehen and Andy Mitchell.
The two teams went to the dressing room tied 3-3 after a wild finish to the opening frame.
The tensions started to boil over in the second period as Shields and Creemore's Kyle Heitzner threw the gloves down and engaged in a fight early in the second period, ending both of their nights.
The fight sparked the Winterhawks, who re-took the lead moments later, with Pither finding Fiegehen at the side of the net to make it a 4-3 Winterhawks lead, with Mitchell also assisting.
Creemore took several liberties with Winterhawks starter Jeff Flagler throughout the second period, but the officials were firmly in the "let them play" state of mind.
The Winterhawks managed to hold the 4-3 lead heading to the third period.
An early power play for the Winterhawks turned into a disadvantage as they were whistled for slashing on a Creemore partial breakaway.
Flagler finally had enough of the constant contact from the Creemore skaters and gave it back, but was quickly whistled for interference once the Coyotes were on the power play, giving them a 5-on-3 advantage.
The Coyotes immediately scored off the draw to make it a 4-4 tie.
That's where things stood despite some late chances in regulation for the Winterhawks, and the game headed to overtime.
The extra frame went back & forth until Creemore's Ben Hughes broke into the Winterhawks zone and fired a quick shot over the shoulder of Flagler to give Creemore the 5-4 OT win.
Fiegehen was named The Wismer House Player of the Game with a goal and an assist.
The chance for retribution will come quickly for the Winterhawks, who travel to Creemore on Saturday evening to finish off the home & home weekend series. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Prior to the game, the Winterhawks bolstered their depth in the crease with the signing of Desboro native Clayton Fritsch. The 32-year old goaltender played his junior hockey with Walkerton and Elmira, and also played two seasons with the WOAA's Durham Thundercats.