The Battle of Bruce County is on as the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks and Ripley Wolves meet to determine who will move on to the WOAA Sr. "AA" championship series.
The semi-final series is set to get underway this Friday evening, February 24th, at 8:30 p.m. in Ripley.
The first game in Saugeen Shores will be Game 2, set for Saturday February 25th at 9:00 p.m. in Port Elgin.
The full series schedule is as follows:
||Fri. Feb. 24
||Sat. Feb. 25
||Fri. Mar. 3
||Sat. Mar. 4
||Fri. Mar. 10
||Sat. Mar. 11
||Tue. Mar. 14
The series should be one for the ages, both teams are loaded with high-end talent and combining that with the geographical rivalry will make this a highly-entertaining match-up.
Ripley finished second in the league with a 14-4-2 record, and are coming off a four-game sweep of the Petrolia Squires. The Winterhawks finished just one point behind Ripley in the league standings with a 14-5-1 record.
The two teams met three times this season, with the Winterhawks taking two wins.
On Dec. 17th in Ripley
, Lauchlin Elder had a goal and two assists in a 5-1 Winterhawks win over the Wolves.
The season series switched to The Plex on Jan. 6th
, where the Winterhawks scored three times in the final six minutes to take a 5-2 victory.
The Wolves returned the volley on Jan. 28th,
jumping out to a 4-0 lead, but barely hanging on to the win by a 6-4 margin with an empty netter that clinched 2nd place for Ripley and home-ice advantage in this series.
Up front, The Wolves are led by WOAA scoring champion Garrett Meurs. The former 5th round pick of the Colorado Avalanche scored 40 points in 19 games to lead all players in the league during the 2022/23 regular season.
The Wolves attack also features Ethan Skinner, who was close behind Meurs with 36 points in 16 games. Veteran Cody Britton rounds out the trio of dangerous attackers for Ripley, netting 32 points in 19 games.
The Winterhawks offence will run through its top line, as Luke Pither, Miles MacLean and Lauchlin Elder will be counted on to contribute. MacLean ran roughshod over the Creemore Coyotes in the first round, netting 14 points (7 goals, 7 assists) in six games, while Pither had seven points in three games.
It would be a shock to see anybody other than Jason Hamilton in the Ripley net for this series. The WOAA's all-time wins leader played 17-of-20 games for the Wolves during the regular season, and all four playoff games against Petrolia.
As they have done in recent memory, the Winterhawks have split the crease between Jeff Flagler and Eric Peicheff so far this season, though Flagler started all three games against Ripley during the regular season. Flagler went 3-0 with a 2.00 G.A.A. against Creemore.
Tickets for Saugeen Shores home games are $12, free for kids 10 & under (accompanied by adult ticket purchase) and season tickets include playoff admission.
The Hawks Nest will be open and the seating area will be licensed at The Plex.