James McHaig scored twice as the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks pulled off the improbable - forcing a deciding Game 7 with the Ripley Wolves to determine who will move on to the WOAA Sr. "AA" championship series.The Winterhawks captured a 4-1 victory on Saturday evening at The Plex, digging out of an 0-3 series deficit to force a winner-take-all Game 7.
As has been the case the entire series, the two teams went back and forth early on, but the Winterhawks defensive game held the Wolves to few good chances, while the Winterhawks were turned aside by Ripley goalie Jason Hamilton early on.
The Winterhawks broke through on the power play at 13:02 when Medric Mercier fed a low shot through traffic that beat Hamilton to make it a 1-0 game, with assists to Miles MacLean and Luke Pither.
Less than a minute later, James McHaig put the Winterhawks up 2-0 when he scored from his rear end, getting enough of the puck to put it across the line, with assists to MacLean and Jay Thomson.
The game was delayed at that point as one of the Winterhawks timekeepers went into medical distress.
Thomson, a paramedic, jumped into action and helped provide aid to the timekeeper, who was alert and taken by ambulance to hospital in Southampton.
An update on his condition will be provided when appropriate.
Once the game resumed, the Winterhawks held off Ripley for a 2-0 lead after one period.
The second period featured a number of Wolves power plays, but the Winterhawks penalty killers were on point and stymied the Ripley offence.
During a five-on-five stint, the Winterhawks had good pressure in the Ripley zone, which led to Lauchlin Elder feeding a spin-o-rama pass from behind the net in front to MacLean, who made no mistake, making it a 3-0 Winterhawks lead at 16:10 of the second period.
Ripley picked up more power play chances in the third and finally got one by Winterhawks netminder Jeff Flagler, to cut the lead to 3-1 at 11:03 of the third.
Undaunted, the Winterhawks kept at the Wolves and put the insurance marker on the board when Andy Mitchell wound up for a slap shot that was deflected in front by McHaig to make it 4-1 Winterhawks at 15:39.
The Winterhawks shut down the Wolves from there and held the score, evening the series at three games a piece, and sending it to a deciding Game 7 on Tuesday evening at 8:30 p.m. in Ripley.
The winning team will advance to the Sr. "AA" Championship series against the Tavistock Royals, who eliminated the defending champion Seaforth Centenaires in six games.
Thomson was named The Wismer House Player of the Game, not for the assist he picked up on the ice, but for the his efforts to come to the aid of our timekeeper, and the life saving efforts he puts forth every day on the front lines.
**UPDATE - Sunday March 12, 2023**
The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks are heartbroken to offer the following update on timekeeper Doug Wood, who went into medical distress during Game 6:
We are deeply saddened to pass along the news that our timekeeper, Doug Wood, passed away suddenly this morning.
Doug was great player for the Port Elgin Sunocos, and on the ball diamond with the Weasels.
He was a fixture behind the scorekeeper’s desk and rarely missed a game. We’re thinking of Mike, Tom and Wally, who spent hours with Doug in the box.
Doug sent word to us from the hospital that he was hoping to attend Game 7 on Tuesday. Trust us, he’ll be there with us. #Win4Woody is our inspiration from here on.
We send our sympathies to Doug’s family, including his wife Chris, and children Elizabeth, Kate & Stephen.