Bryan Kazarian made it a night to remember as he capped off his 200th game in a Winterhawks jersey in style.
Kazarian scored the go-ahead goal on the power play in the 3rd period to give the Winterhawks a lead they would not relinquish, taking a 4-3 win over the visiting Shelburne Muskies.
It was not an ideal start for the Winterhawks, who were hemmed in their own zone by a hard skating Muskies team to start the game, with Chris Greer putting Shelburne on the board 58-seconds in.
The Winterhawks got the legs going, tying the game on a power play at the 14-minute mark, with Curtis Johnston working the puck to Kazarian in the slot, tipping the puck to Andy Fracz at the side of the net, who fired it past Shelburne netminder Ed Davey.
The Muskies regained the lead with just under a minute to go, as Greer snuck behind the Winterhawks defence and took a long breakaway pass, beating Winterhawks starter Eric Peicheff to give Shelburne a 2-1 lead after one.
Davey was unbeatable in the Shelburne net for much of the 2nd period as the Winterhawks controlled the play for the most part, but Lauchlin Elder was able to sneak a shot through to knot the game at 2-2 at 16:34, with assists to Miles MacLean and Blake Underwood.
Shelburne picked up a pair of power plays in the 3rd period, but Peicheff and the penalty killers held off the Muskies during the first one, while the Muskies took an undisciplined penalty to prematurely end their second man-advantage.
Even with a shortened power play, the Winterhawks capitalized, as Kazarian lead a rush into the Shelburne zone and fired the puck past Davey to give the Winterhawks a 3-2 lead, with assists to Fracz and Johnston.
Adam Little delivered what appeared to be the insurance marker just over four minutes later when his point shot struck a Shelburne defender and deflected past Davey to give the Winterhawks a 4-2 lead, with assists to Elder and Josh Deyell.
The breathing room was short lived, as the Muskies answered back 15-seconds later when Ty McCallum let a slap shot go from the top of the circle that caught a piece of Peicheff’s glove, but not enough, pulling the Muskies within one.
Shelburne pushed for the equalizer as time ticked down, but the Winterhawks were able to hold them off without many chances, making it a 4-3 win for Saugeen Shores.
The win clinches a playoff spot and no worse than 4th overall in the WOAA Sr. Hockey League standings, guaranteeing the Winterhawks will have home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs, which open on Feb. 1st.
There’s still one piece of business left, as the Winterhawks meet up with the Durham Thundercats tonight [Saturday] in Durham at 7:30 p.m. to wrap up the regular season.
The two teams enter the game tied at 29 points, with the winner taking 3rd place, unless the Winterhawks win in overtime, which would still give Durham the opportunity to finish 3rd when their regular season wraps up next weekend.