Bulldogs dumped twice by Hawks

Kincardine still has a hold on first

The Walkerton Hawks are breathing down the necks of the Kincardine Bulldogs.

 The Hawks moved within striking distance of the first-place ‘Dogs by winning both games of a home-and-home weekend series between the clubs.

Kincardine's Ryan Armstrong, left,  and Brady Houston of the Walkerton Hawks, battle for the puck Saturday afternoon in Walkerton. (Josh Howald photo)

The Bulldogs are still at the top of the Western Junior C League standings, but the gap between Kincardine and Walkerton is down to one point.

 “First place is nice, but I’m not sure how important it is,” said coach Brian Royle while his team practiced Sunday morning. “We’ve been in second and won and in first place and lost. As long as our young players keep developing over the next 20 games and our veterans keep working hard we’re not too concerned (with the standings).”

  “I think we are the better team. We played good enough to win Friday night, Saturday they outplayed us,” said Royle. “We had about a 10-minute span in each game where we kind of fell apart.”

 Friday night at the Davidson Centre, Tanner Shlakat scored the game winning goal in overtime to lift the Hawks past Kincardine.

 Shlakat’s goal came with the Hawks playing on a 4-on-3 advantage after Taylor Lukasik took a roughing penalty in overtime.

 “It was a tough way to lose,” said Royle.

 Walkerton and Kincardine traded goals in the first period.

Ben Larson opened the scoring from Brock Spencer and Dave Chessell, but the Hawks tied the game with a shorthanded effort from Drew Davidson.

 Walkerton scored early in the second period to take a 2-1 lead, and added two more goals to go up 4-1.

Kevin Quincey had the first Walkerton goal, followed by power play goals from Ryan Amyot and Shlakat.

 However, Kincardine stormed back to tie the game before the period’s end, scoring three times in a span of three minutes. Underwood scored first from Chessell and Nathan Barfoot, followed by Mike Rutherford from Underwood and Joel Alton. Chessell tied the game with help from Underwood and Barfoot. Chessell’s tying goal came with Kincardine on the power play.

 After a scoreless third, Shlakat scored from Kevin Czuzman to end the game.

 Drew Pegrum made 37 saves in the loss, while Clayton Fritsch made 32 stops at the other end.

 The Hawks didn’t need overtime Saturday, handing Kincardine a 3-1 loss. It was the first time this season the ‘Dogs have lost in regulation time and the third time the Hawks have beaten Kincardine this season.

 “It’s the third or fourth time they have beaten us in overtime in the past year or two,” said Royle. “It may be starting to wear a little bit on the minds of our veterans. We need to play (Walkerton) with more confidence.”

 Kincardine took a 1-0 lead in the second, but it was quickly followed by three unanswered Walkerton goals.

 Midway through the second, Alex MacLeod snapped a quick shot towards the Hawks’ net. Underwood deflected the shot downwards and it bounced between the legs of Walkerton goalie Brock Hansell.

 However, just 45 seconds later, Walkerton tied the game when Justin Wakewich blasted a slapper from the point that beat a recovering George Grammenopoulos.

 The Bulldogs goaltender had just made four huge point blank saves on the Hawks before the puck squirted loose to Wakewich at the point.

 Just 16 seconds later, Mike Roelfson hit Wakewich with a nice pass as he walked off the point into the slot. He made a nice move to his backhand to beat Grammenopoulos and give the Hawks a 2-1 lead.

 Amyot sealed the game later in the period. A 2-on-1 became a 2-on-0 after a missed check, and Amyot tapped home a short cross-crease pass from Shalkat to complete the scoring.

 The Bulldogs were 0-for-7 with the man advantage, and were outshot 40-27.

 Grammenopoloulos suffered his first loss of the season, while Hansell got the win for the Hawks.

 “Our goaltending was good in both games,” said Royle. “I think we have two of the league’s best (goalies).”

 Kincardine is in Hanover Friday night to face the Barons, who are coming off weekend wins over Mount Forest and Goderich.

 Saturday night at the Davidson Centre, Kincardine will host the Sailors for a 7:30 p.m. start.

 The ‘Dogs will likely need to win both starts if they hope to remain in first place, as Walkerton has back-to-back games against the 0-14 Patriots.

 “We need to worry about us,” said Royle. “We can’t be concerned about what the Hawks are doing.”