By Josh Howald
While the Carruthers Nicol Insurance Kincardine Bulldogs enjoy an opening round bye, each of the other six Western Junior C Hockey League teams will be in action tonight (Wednesday) as the opening round of the postseason hits full stride.
There have been no major shockers, to this point. The first place Walkerton Hawks lead Goderich 3-0, while the other two series have featured close games and are at 2-1. That certainly doesn’t hurt Kincardine, who accepted the first round bye after it was declined by Walkerton. The well-rested and healthy Bulldogs will face the second lowest seed remaining after this round.
If Walkerton decided to play in order to find some scoring touch, mission accomplished. The Hawks have certainly made a mess of the Goderich Sailors, with the first three games all laughers. Walkerton took 9-1, 11-1 and 9-0 wins, outscoring the hapless Sailors 29-1. The defending champs could mercifully end Goderich’s season with a win tonight. The puck drops at 9 p.m. at the Sifto Centre.
The other two quarter-final series are up for grabs and anybody’s guess. Mitchell leads Hanover 2-1, while Wingham holds a 2-1 lead on Mount Forest. Each series featured an overtime game.
“No surprises, really,” said Jeff Alcombrack, Kincardine’s head coach.
“The league was tight all year long, and the team that comes ready to play a complete game is usually going to win.”
The sixth-place Barons pulled out an OT win in Game 2 last Tuesday in Mitchell, but were doubled up 4-2 in Game 2 at home. Mitchell edged out Hanover 3-2 in Game 3, with Game 4 tonight in Hanover at 8:30 p.m. Game 5 is Friday night in Mitchell, with Games 6 and 7 scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, if necessary.
Also tonight, Mount Forest will try to even things up with Wingham in Game 4 tonight at 8:30 p.m. Wingham took the opener 3-2 in extra time, and the Pats won Game 2 by a 4-3 score. Wingham won Game 3 5-1, making tonight’s game a biggie for the Pats with Game 5 Friday night in Wingham. If necessary, a Game 6 would be Saturday in Mount Forest, and Game 7 in Wingham Sunday.
During all of this, the Bulldogs will quietly practice. The ‘Dogs got two hard skates in at the Davidson Centre on the weekend and will workout once this week and twice more on the weekend.
“We had some good workouts on the weekend, went over a few things,” said Alcombrack. “We could still use a couple of more, but hopefully the guys are getting ready.”