Winterhawks draw Minto to open playoffs

In a rather unusual twist, the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks first round playoff series has been set.

Following off-ice decisions, it has been determined the Winterhawks will meet the Minto 81’s in the quarterfinals of the W.O.A.A. Sr. “AA” playoffs.

Earlier this month, the 81’s were docked seven points by the W.O.A.A.’s board of directors over the use of what was then-deemed to be an ineligible player.

The 81’s sent the matter to a review board, who overturned the decision, returning the seven points to the 81’s, shooting them up to 5th place in the standings and a meeting with the 4th-place Winterhawks.

Game 1 of the series goes this Friday, February 1st at The Plex, with start time pushed back to 9:00 pm, due to the Caitlyn Cobean Memorial Silver Stick taking place this weekend.

Home ice advantage could truly be just that, as the Winterhawks enter the series on an eight-game home winning streak, and were 9-3-0 at The Plex in the regular season.

There’s no lack of history between the two teams, who faced each other in the playoffs three out of four years, in 2013, 2015 and 2016, though rosters on both sides have changed dramatically since then.

More recently, the Winterhawks were the victors in both regular season meetings, picking up a come-from-behind 7-6 shootout win over the 81’s in Palmerston on Nov. 10th, followed by a 5-2 Winterhawks’ win at The Plex on Dec. 9th.

Miles MacLean lead the Winterhawks attack with 29 points (18 goals, 11 assists), along with Curtis Johnston (25 pts.), Blake Underwood (20 pts.) and Mike Rocca (18 pts.), while Lauchlin Elder put up an impressive 11 points since returning to the lineup in late December.

The 81’s offence is paced by Adam Kawalec, who recorded 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 19 games, followed by Riley O’Connell (25 pts.), Austin Gaboury (22 pts.) and Collin Hartwick (22 pts.).

In goal, Minto’s tandem of Ben Nelson and Marc Williams split the season, appearing in 11 games each.

Elsewhere in the WOAA Sr. “AA” quarterfinals, the #1 seed Clinton Radars take on the 8th-place Tavistock Royals, while the #2 Ripley Wolves face #7 Huron East Centenaires, and 3rd-place Durham Thundercats face #6 Petrolia Squires.