By Josh Howald
While a 7-3 loss is a less than ideal start to the season, it wasn’t a completely unexpected result.
Ripley was outshot, outskated and outworked Saturday night in Shallow Lake as the Crushers and Wolves kicked off another WOAA Senior AA campaign. The Crushers went up 2-0 on first period goals from tough guy Adam Smyth, and never looked back. The Wolves didn’t have a chance, with the shots on goal 47-22 in favour of Shallow Lake. Bottom line is, the Wolves weren’t ready.
“They came hard, and we couldn’t keep up with them,” said captain Jeremy McQuillin after the game. “It’s tough, they have been in their barn, playing games and we’ve been working out in Kincardine. We’re not a team yet, and we weren’t in game shape. It will take a bit of time.”
A bit of time on the power play allowed Travis VanGaver to make it 2-1 early in the second period, with assists to McQuillin and Nick Locking. But Smyth completed his hat trick two minutes later, and Brandon Monohan made it a 4-1 game before the second break. Rookie Jared Colling scored his first WOAA goal on a man advantage early in the third period to give the Wolves life, but the Crushers answered with goals from Kevin Biernes and Mike Rocca to make it 6-2. Van Gaver made it 6-3 with two minutes to play, but Chris Robertson scored seconds later to put an exclamation point on Shallow Lake’s home opener.
This isn’t to say there weren’t any positives from Friday night’s game.
“The new guys all looked good, Colling had a nice goal,” said McQuillin. “(Goaltender Kurt Edwards) was phenomenal. To be honest, it could have been a lot worse, he made some ridiculous saves.”
Edwards made 40 stops in a losing effort, while Trevor Van Wyck turned aside just 17 Ripley shots. Two former Kincardine Junior C goaltenders worked the doors – Keegan Woodman backed up Edwards, while Gatlin Burt backed up Van Wyck.
The Wolves are keen to get moved into their own dressing room, and say they will be prepared for Friday, when the rival Shelburne Muskies visit for the Ripley home opener. Game time is 8:30 p.m. in the village. It is Ripley’s only game of the weekend.
The Wolves and Crushers were the only WOAA South Division team in action on the weekend, but there were four games played in the WOAA North. Tavistock crushed Goderich 13-0 and also shut out Petrolia 5-0. Petrolia then beat Clinton 7-6 in overtime, while Tillsonburg defeated Milverton 7-4.
There are three games in the North Friday night. Besides the Ripley game, Lucknow will host Mapleton-Minto and Elora will travel to Durham. Saturday night, Saugeen Shores is in Drayton to face Mapleton-Minto, while the Lancers head to Shallow Lake.