Winterhawks Storm Back to Defeat Durham in season opener

The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on Friday night at The Plex.

The Winterhawks erased a two-goal deficit in the 3rd period and eventually took a 4-3 shootout win over the Durham Thundercats on Friday night at The Plex.

The night started off on the right foot, as the Winterhawks put early pressure on Durham, generating chances around the Thundercats net.

It didn’t take long to pay off, as a Blake Underwood centering pass popped up in the air and Lauchlin Elder batted past Durham netminder Scott Kuglin to give the Winterhawks a 1-0 lead at 3:35 of the 1st.

Penalty trouble cost the Winterhawks late in the period, as they were whistled for three-consecutive minor penalties in short order.

Durham used one of them to even things up, as Trevor Hughson found a loose puck in the slot and fired it past a helpless Jeff Flagler.

The score remained tied until early in the 2nd period, when the Winterhawks turned the puck over in the neutral zone on a power play, springing a Durham breakaway the other way.

Jake Brown beat Flagler up high to give Durham a 2-1 lead on the shorthanded goal.

A combination of undisciplined play and misfortune resulted in Durham again picking up three-consecutive power plays late in the 2nd period.

The Winterhawks killed off the first two penalties, but the third time was the charm for Durham, as Hughson again found the net to give Durham a 3-1 lead, which they would take into the 3rd period.

Durham held the pressure on the Winterhawks into the 3rd period, as the home side struggled to generate quality chances on Kuglin.

The urgency picked up as the period wore on and the dam finally burst as Adam Blundell picked up his first point as a Winterhawk, feeding a point shot through a crowd, with Miles MacLean burying the rebound at the side of the net, cutting the Durham lead to 3-2 at 11:18.

The pressure kept up, but Kuglin turned aside numerous chances as a the clock ticked down.

With one last face-off in the Durham zone, Bryan Kazarian won the draw back to Theo Peckham, who sent a point shot to the net, deflected by Andy Mitchell past Kuglin with 6.8-seconds left tie it up at 3-3 and send the game to overtime.

The extra frame was not without its controversy, as Underwood had a chance in close on Kuglin, but appeared to be cross-checked from behind into the Durham netminder, though the referee whistled Underwood for goaltender interference.

Head Coach Matt Turcotte was ejected from the game for arguing the call.

Flagler came up huge for the Winterhawks as Durham tried to put the game away, frantically keeping the puck on the goal-line as the buzzer sounded to send the game to a shootout.

Flagler turned aside Durham captain Kyler Nixon, while Kuglin stopped MacLean in the opening round.

Mitch Wright was denied by Flagler in the second round, while Curtis Johnston was turned aside by Kuglin.

Brown managed to beat Flagler in the third round, but his shot clanked off the post.

That set the stage for Brent MacDermid, who broke in on Kuglin and deked out the Durham netminder to give the Winterhawks a 4-3 come-from-behind victory.

The win gives the Winterhawks a 1-0-0 record to open the 2019/20 WOAA Sr. “AA” Hockey League season. They will look for win number-two as the hit the road tonight [Saturday] for a duel with the Lucknow Lancers.

Game time in Lucknow is 7:30 p.m.

RESCHEDULED: The WOAA has ruled that the suspended game between the Winterhawks and Ripley Wolves on Oct. 5th will be replayed in its entirety. The two teams will play on Saturday, February 1st at 7:00 p.m. in Ripley. All stats accumulated during the suspended game will not count.