The Wolves dominated the scoresheet for the first two periods, building a 6-2 lead heading into the third. They managed to weather a third period rally by the Crushers and added an empty netter to get the season started with a win.
Ripley native Kurt Edwards was very strong between the pipes, while the offense easily shook off any off-season rust.
Captain Jeremy McQuillin, who missed Friday night's game but plans to suit up for the Wolves home opener on Oct. 12 against these same Crushers, said scoring goals won't be an issue with this year's team.
"I think we are as deep in talent as we've ever been in my 10 years," McQuillin said. "We've added a good mix of young rookies, with Ryan Armstrong, Paul Stewart and Tom Church, and guys who have played in the league for a few years now in Tyler Devos, Tim Dwinnell and Curt Robinson."
As was the case in the third period on Friday night, it's tightening up the team's defense that will determine how many wins the Wolves net this year.
"We will need some of our veteran defencemen to step it up and have strong seasons," McQuillin said. "We've added a great amount of scoring threats - we will score goals. It will be our defensive game as a unit that will determine whether or not we will be successful this year."
With the folding of the Walkerton Hawks this season, many teams in the WOAA's North Division have joined Ripley in making significant additions to their roster. The time is now for the Wolves to make their move to the upper-echelon of the North Division standings.
"With the crop of new guys, we are going to have to get lines to jell early in order to post a good record and seeding heading into the playoffs," the captain said. "I think with a strong commitment level this year, we can put ourselves in a better spot in the standings to succeed further in the playoffs than in recent years."
Hinting at retirement for some of the team's older players, many of whom have growing families, McQuillin said the veterans are ready to make this the Wolves' best season in the decade since they returned to the WOAA Sr. A league.
"I think it is very possible this team will look a lot different next year, so the veterans will be really focusing on achieving something positive this season."
Elsewhere on the WOAA’s opening weekend, Shallow Lake was defeated 3-2 in overtime Saturday night by Minto-Mapleton in Palmerston. That was the only other North Division game on the weekend, with more action happening in the South. Saturday night, Komoka dumped Tillsonburg 10-3, Milverton downed Thedford 5-1 and Clinton was edged out 3-2 by Petrolia. Friday night, Thedford put a pounding on Goderich, while Komoka squeaked by the Monkton Wildcats 3-2.
The Wolves open the home schedule this Friday at 8:30 p.m., a rematch with the Crushers. Game night sponsor is Home Hardware. Saturday, the Wolves will bei n Lucknow to face the Lancers. The team has a new website, www.ripleywolves.com, and has also found homes on facebook and twitter@RipleyWolves
-Dwight Irwin, with files from Josh Howald