A disallowed goal turned out to be the difference maker as the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks dropped a 1-0 nailbiter in Game 3 of their WOAA Sr. "AA" semi-final series with the Ripley Wolves.
As has been the case throughout the series, it was a tight checking game, with open ice in the middle difficult to come by.
Ripley opened the scoring early,when Dan Nicoloff took a centering pass from Garrett Meurs and chipped over the shoulder of Winterhawks starter Jeff Flagler.
The Winterhawks struggled to get much going after that, as Ripley did a terrific job choking up the middle of the ice, and good scoring chances were hard to come by, as the Wolves took a 1-0 lead to the dressing room.
The 'Hawks took over in the second period, controlling much of the middle frame.
After much pressure, they appeared to tie it when the puck popped up in front to Justin Donnelly, who knocked it down with his glove and then shoveled the loose puck into the net with his stick.
Despite the initial ruling on the ice calling it a good goal, the officials overturned the call and declared it a hand pass, keeping it a 1-0 game.
The Winterhawks kept the pedal down, outshooting Ripley 15-3 in the second period, but couldn't find the twine again, keeping it 1-0 Ripley after two.
The Wolves stuck to their game plan and clogged up the neutral zone for the third period, not giving the Winterhawks much in the way of space.
The officials again made their way into the middle of it late in the period. Despite calling no penalties throughout a chippy game, the Winterhawks were called for a minor penalty with 3:54 remaining in regulation.
The 'Hawks not only killed off the penalty, but had their best chances of the third period while shorthanded, but couldn't get one past Ripley netminder Jason Hamilton.
The final push was on, but the Winterhawks couldn't get on the board. Ripley was called for a largely meaningless penalty with 10 seconds left, as it left no time for the Winterhawks to set up the power play.
Ripley now has a 3-0 stranglehold on the series, and the Winterhawks will look to extend the series with their season on the line tonight [Saturday] in Ripley.
Game time is 7:30 p.m.