The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Milverton 4 Wheel Drives on Friday night at The Plex.
The Winterhawks thoroughly dominated the 2023-2024 Outlaw Brew home opener, only a spectacular goaltending performance by Milverton's Tyler Fassl kept the score respectable, as the Winterhawks came away with a 4-2 victory.
The opening frame was not unlike the rest of the game, with the Winterhawks carrying the play, but unable to solve Fassl, as the score remained even until late in the period.
Milverton was the beneficiary of an undetected high stick inside their own zone, which sent the Drives on a 2-on-1 rush the other way, with Mitch Boertien beating Winterhawks starter Jeff Flagler on a low shot.
The Winterhawks continued the pressure and broke through moments later, with veteran Curtis Johnston, skating in his 200th game, beat Fassl with a quick shot to the far side off the rush, with assists to Andy Fracz and Trevor Smith, making it a 1-1 score after one.
Penalty trouble crept in and Milverton ended up on a 5-on-3 advantage early in the 2nd period, with Chris Corbett finishing off a passing play after the Winterhawks couldn't get the puck out, making it a 2-1 score for Milverton.
The Winterhawks evened the score minutes later when Luke Pither danced around the Milverton defender and fed a pass into the slot to Lauchlin Elder, who made no mistake, evening the score at 2-2.
That score held until late in the 2nd, when Elder drew in the Milverton defenders just inside the offensive zone, connecting with Logan Freiburger, who found Miles MacLean all alone in the slot.
MacLean popped the water bottle in the top corner to give the Winterhawks a 3-2 lead heading to the 3rd period.
The theme of the evening continued in the third period, as the Winterhawks controlled the play in the final frame, but couldn't put the insurance marker on the board until late.
Milverton took a double-minor spearing penalty with just over three minutes to play, giving the Winterhawks the opportunity they needed to put the game away.
With just under two minutes to play, Pither carried the puck into the Milverton zone, putting a deke over the shoulder of Fassl to give the Winterhawks a 4-2 victory to open the season.
All told, the Winterhawks outshot Milverton 64-23 in a dominant performance.
The win sets up an early season confrontation between two championship contenders, as the Winterhawks host the defending "AA" champion Tavistock Royals next Friday night, October 13th, at The Plex at 8:30 p.m.
Following the game, Winterhawks Assistant Coach Jeff Barfoot followed through on his promise to cut his long hair for charity.
Jeff's children Marisa & Kirby had the pleasure of cutting their dad's hair, with some help from Kendall Sawyer of Sonas Hair & Esthetics.
Thanks to the generosity of Winterhawks fans, Jeff's hair cut raised $1,700 for Wigs for Kids, who will also receive Jeff's shorn locks to make into a wig to support kids going through hair loss caused by medical conditions.