By Josh Howald
Kincardine just couldn’t hit the back of the net in Saturday night’s home opener. But they had no trouble finding the net Sunday.
Kincardine's Shawn Stewart protects the puck from Greg Orr of the Mitchell Hawks Saturday night at the Davidson Centre. Orr had an assist on the eventual game winner, which came on a Hawks power play in the second period. (Josh Howald photo)
The Carruthers Nicol Insurance Kincardine Bulldogs kicked off the Western Junior C League schedule with two home games on the weekend. After a disappointing 3-1 loss to Mitchell in Saturday night’s home opener, the ‘Dogs bounced back with a 12-1 pasting of the Goderich Sailors Sunday afternoon.
“Saturday night was a tough one,” said head coach Jeff Alcombrack.
The Bulldogs hit a pair of goalposts, while two other pucks may or may not have entered the Hawks net. Officials weren’t in position to make the call on two disputed goals, which were both waved off. Kincardine’s top line looked very good, but seemed to run out of gas in the third period.
That said, the Mitchell Hawks played a sound, smart road game and got good goaltending from Ben Nelson. He made 28 stops, while Gatlin Burt made 30 saves in goal for Kincardine.
Ben Denham gave the Hawks an early lead, but Joel Alton replied six minutes later with help from Dave Mercer and midget call-up Carter Strachan. Brent Rae scored the eventual game winner with Kincardine in the penalty box in the middle period and Luke Salter put the game out of reach with a goal midway through the third.
“We have to bear down around the net and finish our chances,” said Alcombrack.
His players got the message, and filled the net Sunday in a 12-1 beating of Goderich.
The Goderich Sailors will never be confused with the Walkerton Hawks. After a 2-33-1 campaign last year, the Sailors changed coaches, but opened with a familiar result – an 11-2 loss to Mount Forest.
Alcombrack said he told his players prior to the game it didn’t matter who the opponent was – they wouldn’t win without a strong work ethic start to finish. They responded, scoring five times before the game was minutes old.
It was 6-1 early in the third when Jake Lapointe hit forward Jamie Miller from behind. Lapointe had already been penalized three times in this game – twice for slashing and once for slew-footing , and had to answer to Paul Lamont this time. Lamont earned a clear decision in a one-sided bout, and the fired-up Kincardine bench potted six goals in the next seven minutes.
“(Lamont) is doing a great job on the fourth line, finishing his checks and getting under the other team’s skin,” said Alcombrack. “He stuck up for a teammate, and we like that attitude.”
Captain Brett Catto scored four times in this game, and added another two assists for a six-point performance. Tanner Simpson had two goals and an assist, while brother Chad also scored twice. Miller had an assist to go with his two goals, while Alton and Simmons rounded out the scoring. Josh McDonald had three assists, Dave Mercer had two, while Colin Whitfield, Shawn Stewart and goaltender Justin Hammond each earned one assist.
Hammond saw just 15 shots sent his way, while Tyler MacGregor was left in the Goderich net for all 12 Kincardine goals on 41 shots.
Alcombrack, who is recovering from hip surgery, was joined on the bench by Chris Dunlop and Paul Catto this weekend. He said both have agreed to join the club as assistant coaches, which can only help this team.
“It’s easier for me if we have some extra eyes on the bench, and they are both competitive guys who hate to lose,” said Alcombrack, “so they are a good fit with me.”
Elsewhere on the opening weekend of the Western Junior C regular season schedule, Aaron Armstrong had four goals for Wingham in a 7-3 win over Mount Forest Friday night, and former Bulldog Haden Campbell’s hat trick helped the Hawks to a 4-2 win over Hanover Friday night in Walkerton. Kincardine’s Paul Boyadjian, another former Bulldog, posted the win in goal for Mount Forest in the previously mentioned 11-2 win over Goderich.
This weekend, Kincardine is in action just once, a Friday night home game against Boyadjian and the Patriots. In other action, Walkerton visits Wingham and Mitchell is in Hanover Friday night. Saturday, Wingham is in Goderich, Hanover visits Mount Forest and Mitchell plays Walkerton in Walkerton. There is also one Sunday game, a 3 p.m. afternoon start in Goderich between the Sailors and the Mitchell Hawks.