By Josh Howald
The Wolves had no trouble with Durham’s neutral zone trap, and took full advantage of the Thundercat parade to the penalty box, scoring three power play goals. They also added two shorthanded goals as well, in Game 1 of the WOAA North Division quarter-finals.
“We capitalized on their undisciplined play when we needed to,” said Wolves captain Jeremy McQuillin, who scored twice – both shorthanded - and added two helpers, for a four-point night.
“We stuck to an aggressive game plan, and had some success with our forecheck.”
Paul Stewart opened the scoring four minutes in from Tim Dwinnell and Ryan Armstrong, and Kyle Gallant made it 2-0 with Durham’s Chris Hopkins serving a minor for slashing. McQuillin and Darrin MacDonald had the assists.
The T-Cats went to the middle frame down two goals, and then put themselves consistently down a man. Numerous penalties gave Mark Stanley a power play to score on from Gallant and brother Brian. Nick Locking scored just 14 seconds later to make give Ripley a four-goal lead. McQuillin and Travis VanGaver assisted on the goal, another power play tally. Jeff MacMillan got Durham on the board with 4:38 left in the frame, but McQuillin scored the dagger, a shorty just 36 seconds after McMillan gave Durham some life.
He did it again, putting the Wolves up 6-1 with another shorthanded effort, and Dwinnell added a seventh goal for good measure on a late power play. Locking had the assist on McQuillin’s goal, while Chad Colling and Alex McLeod were in on Dwinnell’s first of the postseason.
Durham tried to send a message in the third, as the teams combined for nearly 100 minutes in penalties in the final 20. The message the T-Cats tried to deliver, basically, was that Game 2 won’t be nearly as easy.
“It’s not an easy rink to play in,” said McQuillin. “ But it’s always a fun atmosphere in Durham and we’re looking forward to Game 2. Hopefully we can go in there and gut out a dirty road win.”
Game 3 of the series is back in Ripley Saturday night, an early 7:30 p.m. start. Game 4 is Feb. 15 in Durham. If necessary, Game 5 is the next night in Ripley with Game 6 to follow Feb. 16 in Durham. Ripley, who finished fourth to Durham’s fifth, would host a seventh and deciding game if needed. That would be played Feb. 19.
The other WOAA North Division quarter-final series also began on the weekend, with no major surprises. The defending champs from Saugeen Shores beat Minto-Mapleton 6-1 in Game 1 of that series, but needed overtime to win Game 2 Saturday night 5-4. Game 3 of that set is in Port Elgin Friday night at 8:30 p.m. First place Elora defeated Lucknow 6-1 in Game 1 of that series. Game 2 is Friday night in Elora, with the series shifting to Lucknow for Game 3 Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. Second place Shelburne shut out the Shallow Lake Crushers 5-0 in Game 1 of that quarter-final battle, and now lead that series 2-0 after an 8-5 win in Game 2.
The South Division quarter-finals also began on the weekend, with one game being played in each of the four series. Clinton dropped Game 1 to seventh place Monkton, but the rest of the favourites won the openers. The Wildcats beat the Radars 3-2, while Komoka beat Thedford, Tavistock crushed Milverton and Tillsonburg won Game 1 of their series with rival Petrolia 6-5.