Wolves even series with wild comeback win

Game 3 Friday night

By Josh Howald

Things were looking bleak for the Ripley Wolves until a third-period flurry turned this series around.

Travis VanGaver was honoured by the WOAA prior to Game 2 Saturday night. Find out why in this week's print edition of The Kincardine Independent. (Independent file photo)

The Wolves trailed the top-seeded Elora Rocks 4-1 headed for the third period of Game 2 in the WOAA Senior AA North Division semi-finals. The Rocks seemed poised to take a commanding 2-0 series lead after winning Game 1 at home the previous night and taking an early lead in Game 2.

But the Wolves scored four unanswered goals to stun the Rocks and even this best-of-seven series, which has now become a best-of-five. Game 3 is Friday night in Elora, with Game 4 back in Ripley Saturday night.

Elora’s biggest mistake in Game 2 was trying to get tough with the Wolves. The Rocks seemingly had things under control until an Elora parade to the penalty box began, with Dylan Cunningham playing the role of parade marshall, racking up nine minutes at once. By the time he left the sin bin, Ripley had scored three times to make it a 4-4 game. Jeremy McQuillin, Kyle Gallant and Derek Regier each scored on the man advantage, with Travis VanGaver, Nick Locking, Mark Stanley, Ryan Armstrong and Nathan Gavey had assists.

With five to play in regulation, Gallant and Darrin MacDonald set up Stanley for a pretty game winner.

“No question that nine minute power play put us back in it,” said McQuillin, who also had a first period goal for the Wolves. “Stanley buried a beauty to give us the win. We proved we can play from behind, but obviously it’s not an ideal situation.”

Tom Church ended up getting the win in goal after replacing Ripley starter Kurt Edwards just four minutes in. Edwards, nursing a groin injury, allowed four goals on four shots to put the Wolves in an early hole. John Lunney beat him twice, once while shorthanded, and Brad Kruas and Jeremy Machin also scored as the Rocks went ahead 4-1. Church was well protected by his defence in his stint between the pipes, but also made some clutch saves for the Wolves when called upon. Blake Sinclair made 29 saves for Elora and is tagged with the loss.

The previous night in Elora, the Rocks opened the series with a 5-3 win. Steve Walters, Steve Mullin, Brad Woods, Brock Zinken and Kraus scored for Elora, while Tim Dwinnell scored twice for Ripley. Locking had the other. Assists went to McQuillin, VanGaver, Regier, Brian Stanley and MacDonald. Shots on goal were not kept. It was a definite change of pace from Ripley’s last series against Durham.

“It was difficult for us to get going,” said McQuillin. “(Elora) likes to run and gun as opposed to the trap and defensive style of Durham.”

As noted, Game 3 is Friday night (tonight) in Elora, with Game 4 back in Ripley Saturday night at 8 p.m. Game 5 is March 8 in Elora, and if necessary, Game 6 is in Ripley March 10 and Game 7 would be played in Elora March 11. The Wolves aren’t intimidated by the heavily favoured Rocks, and will be looking for a better start to Friday night’s game.

 “If we can take care of our own end and don’t let them get moving in the neutral zone, there is no reason we can’t be successful,” said McQuillin, who said the Wolves gleaned a thing or two from Elora’s third period antics in Game 2.

“We can’t be successful from the penalty box,” he said. “(Elora is) a beatable team, we just have to be better out of the gate.”

Elsewhere in the WOAA Senior AA playoffs, the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks took Games 1 and 2 of the other North Division semi-final series against Shelburne. The Winterhawks took 8-4 and 5-1 decisions, and will host Game 3 Friday night in Port Elgin. In the South Division, Tavistock beat Petrolia 6-3 and 3-1 to take a 2-0 lead in that series, while Monkton continued the Cinderella story, at least for now, with a 4-3 win over first place Komoka. Monkton is coming off a sweep of Clinton, and will host Game 2 Friday night.

In Senior A playoff action, the Lucknow Lancers swept a best-of-three series against the Thedford Dirty Dogs with 8-5 and 6-4 wins. The Lancers will now face Durham and Shallow Lake in a round robin, with the top two teams then playing a series to determine an A champion.