Big Game 3 tonight in Kincardine

'Dogs, Barons both win road starts

By Josh Howald

This 3-out-of-5 series has become a best 2-of-3. And that begins tonight in Kincardine.

Ben Davis fights off a check from Hanover's Haden Campbell as Paul Stewart follows up the play. Hanover won this game, but Kincardine bounced back with a win Sunday on the road. Game 3 of the series is tonight (Wednesday) at the Davidson Centre. (Josh Howald photo)

The Carruthers Nicol Insurance Kincardine Bulldogs will host the Hanover Barons tonight (Wednesday) for Game 3 of the Western Junior C quarter-finals at 7:30 p.m. Kincardine dropped the playoff opener at home Saturday night, but bounced back to even the series Sunday afternoon on the road.

Game 1 was close until the third period, when Hanover pulled away to take a 7-3 win. In Game 2, Kincardine controlled the play and never trailed in a 6-3 win. So what should we expect tonight?

“I don’t think we’ll l see any high scoring games like we did (in Games 1 and 2)” said assistant coach Shawn Burrows. “I think these two teams are so close, either team could grab a one-goal win.”

Sunday afternoon belonged to the Bulldogs – and the Stewart brothers. Captain Paul Stewart and his brother Shawn – two of the hardest working players in the league – combined for five of Kincardine’s six goals. Shawn completed a hat trick when he scored into an empty net with one minute remaining to seal Game 2. Paul, meanwhile, scored twice and even stepped back to play defence in the third period for a shorthanded Kincardine team. The Bulldogs were missing several players and dressed just four defencemen, and Paul was moved back to the blue line after Nate Barfoot was handed a 12-minute penalty for a check to the head.

Kincardine was leading 2-1 when Paul scored the eventual game winner, his second of the game. Cole MacDougall scored less than a minute later and the ‘Dogs didn’t look back. MacDougall, who played probably his best game of the season, added an assist in the game, as did Scott Miller, Jared Colling, Hayden Allen and Brett Woods.

Derek Widmeyer, Jason Tremble and Haden Campbell replied for Hanover. Brian Hainsworth made 26 saves for the win, while Travis Elvin stopped 26 shots in the loss.

“The boys played very well,” said Burrows. “We didn’t make the mental mistakes that cost us goals Saturday.”

Saturday, the teams opened the series with a penalty-filled contest that Hanover walked away with in the third period.

Kincardine actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead in this game on goals from Miller and Brock Spencer, but the Barons evened the score with two Tremble goals, one of them shorthanded.

Hanover captain Jason Hutchison gave his team its first lead with a power play goal late in the second. Kincardine nearly scored while killing off this penalty, but made a poor change and the Barons made them pay.

Rob Lucciantonio made it 4-1 early in the third. Barfoot scored a power play goal from Paul Stewart on a blast from the point to make it 4-2, but the Barons scored three times in the final nine minutes. Tremble completed his hat trick, while Reid Hay and Campbell, the former Bulldog, each scored once.

Hainsworth was very good in the early stages of this game, as the Barons outshot Kincardine by a wide margin in the first period. He gets the loss with 34 stops, while Elvin gets credit for the win with 34 saves.

In the other Western League playoff battles, the Wingham Ironmen took a 1-0 lead on Goderich with an 8-3 win at home in Game 1. Game 2 of that series was last night (Tuesday) in Goderich. In Mitchell, a late power play goal lifted the Hawks to a 4-3 win over the Mount Forest Patriots and a 1-0 series lead. The Pats were outshot 52-25 in that contest. Game 2 of that series was also last night. Meanwhile, the Walkerton Hawks had the weekend off. Walkerton received a first round bye and will wait for an opponent in the Western semi-finals.

Though home ice has meant nothing in the first two games of the Kincardine – Hanover series, it could be the difference if the series lasts a full five games. As mentioned, Game 3 is tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Kincardine. Game 4 will be in Hanover Saturday night at 8 p.m., and a fifth game, if necessary, would be played at the Davidson Centre Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

DOG BITES: Austin Spencer, the 17-year-old brother of Brock Spencer, joined the team and played both weekend games for Kincardine. After spending last season with the Goderich Sailors, he spent the year with the Clinton Radars of the WOAA Senior AA League. Goderich failed to protect him at deadline time, so the ‘Dogs made a shrewd move to acquire him after Clinton was relegated to the Senior B playoffs…Ryan Armstrong, who has missed the past two weeks with an injury, hopes to return to the line-up tonight for Game 3…Derek Regier served a one-game suspension Sunday and will return for Game 3 tonight…Kincardine’s coaching staff had nothing but praise for the defence corps, which consisted of just four players Sunday.