By Josh Howald
With two games left in the regular season, the Ripley Wolves know they will have home ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs – and little else.
The Wolves were downed 2-1 by the Durham Thundercats in a shootout on the weekend, and currently occupy fourth place overall in the WOAA Senior AA North Division with 27 points and a 13-8-0-1 record. Ripley - with a Friday night home game against Shelburne and a Saturday night tilt in Port Elgin – could finish second, third or fourth in the standings. Friday night’s opponent - Shelburne – had a three point lead on the Wolves while Saugeen Shores holds a two-point lead on the Wolves. Essentially, Saturday night’s game will mean something, anyways, in terms of positioning.
The Wolves could play Durham, Shallow Lake or Mapleton-Minto in the first round of the postseason. The Elora Rocks (18-3-0-1) and the 2-20 Lucknow Lancers is the only series assured to happen before the final weekend is played.
Saturday night in Durham, rookie Paul Stewart scored the lone goal of the first period. His sixth of the season came from Ryan Armstrong and Brian Stanley, and left Ripley leading 1-0 until the middle of the second period. Andrew Boyle scored from Jeff MacMillan, and that was all the scoring for regulation time in this game. Kurt Edwards was beaten in the shootout by Keith MacMillan and is tagged with the loss despite making 33 saves through 65 minutes of hockey. Josh Sturrock did the same, but gets a win, in the Thundercat net.
Elsewhere in the North Division on the weekend, Saugeen Shores beat Minto-Mapleton 10-2 Friday night and Lucknow by the same score on Saturday night at home. Shelburne, meanwhile, was upset by the 81’s and Shallow Lake. Minto-Mapleton beat them 7-6 Friday and the Crushers won by the same score Saturday. Ryan DeBoer scored the shootout winner for Elora as they beat Durham 7-6 Friday night.
The playoff picture isn’t much clearer in the WOAA South, where Komoka leads the league at 19-2-0-1 with Clinton one point behind at 19-3. Komoka crushed Thedford 15-2, while Tyler Doig scored the shootout winner for Clinton in a 3-2 win over Petrolia. Goderich dropped 10-2 and 9-3 decisions to Petrolia and Milverton, while Monkton was shut out 3-0 by the ‘Drives. Tillsonburg edged out Thedford 3-2, and was then beaten in a shootout by Tavistock the next night.
Watch next week’s Independent for a full playoff picture. This weekend the Wolves host Shelburne at 8:30 p.m. It’s sponsor appreciation night in Ripley. Saturday, the Wolves are in Port Elgin, where the puck drops at 8:30 p.m.