By Josh Howald
Before the regular season has ended, Kincardine can say ‘Bye!’ to a first-round playoff opponent.
Kincardine peppered Hanover goalie Jake Ireland with 43 shots in a 7-1 weekend win. (Richard Lawson photo)
The Walkerton Hawks will say thanks, but no thanks, to the bye offered to the Western Junior C League’s regular season champs. The Hawks will instead choose to face the 1-33-1 Goderich Sailors in an opening round match-up that may already be over. That leaves second place Kincardine with the same choice.
“We would take it for sure,” said Carruthers Nicol Insurance Kincardine Bulldogs head coach Jeff Alcombrack on Monday. “I have heard a few things but nothing is set in stone. I think we would be better off to get some good skates in to get the boys ready (than play the Sailors).”
Walkerton assistant coach Cory Hamilton told the Independent that his 27-4-2 Hawks would decline the opening round pass Monday afternoon. Wingham and Mitchell will jostle for third place on the weekend, and the team to come out on top draws sixth-place Hanover. Fourth place will go head-to-head with fifth place Mount Forest.
While Hamilton’s team gave us a playoff preview on the weekend with 11-1 and 15-2 wins over the Sailors, Alcombrack’s squad threw a 7-1 beating on Hanover Saturday night. Dave Mercer had a natural hat trick for Kincardine, scoring two goals in a 24-second span to end the first period, and completing the feat 3:15 into the middle frame. Gerrit Satosek assisted on all three goals, while Paul Lamont had helpers on the first two. Kincardine led 3-0 after the first – Chad Simpson had opened the scoring form Mike Sharpe.
The newly acquired Sharpe, David Jones, Adam Hughes and Jordan Cale all had an impact in this one - Hughes fought Jason Demetrius in the second, while the three newcomers each chipped in at least a point.
“The new boys are coming along well,” said Alcombrack.“They have good attitudes and the same goals as the rest of the boys. The additions have certainly made us more dangerous.”
Brad Pitt got one back for the Barons, Mercer made it four and Brett Catto made it a 5-1 game. Catto’s was a shorthanded effort from Cody Britton and Jones. Catto then set up Colin Whitfield to make it 6-1. Gatlin Burt stopped Justin Graham on a penalty shot to end the second period and Sharpe scored from Jared Colling and Cale with less than five minutes to play to wrap this one up. Burt made 23 saves for the win, while the Bulldogs peppered Hanover with 43 shots – 20 of them in the middle frame. Jake Ireland was beaten for all the Kincardine goals.
Kincardine will close out the regular season with a Friday night game at home against the Mitchell Hawks. The puck drops at 7:30 pm. Saturday, the Bulldogs will head for Mount Forest for an 8 p.m. start against the Pats.
“We still have some work to do,” said Alcombrack. “We want to play hard and smart, stay out of the (penalty) box and treat these last two games like they are playoff games.”
Elsewhere in the West, the schedule will close out with Wingham hosting Goderich Friday night while Walkerton heads to Hanover. Saturday, the Hawks host the Ironmen and the Barons are in Mitchell. The final game of the 2012-13 season is in Mitchell Sunday night as the Hawks battle the Hawks.