By Josh Howald
What a difference a week can make.
The Nicol Insurance Kincardine Bulldogs got some swagger back with a big 9-5 win over the previously undefeated Mitchell Hawks Friday night at home.
Kincardine entered the weekend as a frustrated team with just one victory to its name. But a four-goal explosion in the second period against the Western Junior C Hockey League’s first place team has the ‘Dogs back in a good mood.
“We now know what we’re capable of,” said captain Brett Catto, who had a five-point night with two helpers to go along with his hat trick.
“The whole atmosphere was different in the room after the win, and we have to keep that feeling.”
With the win, Kincardine moved past Mount Forest in the standings and are now fourth overall with a 2-2-2 record.
Shawn Moore opened the scoring with a power play goal from Tanner Simpson and Sam Feagan. Mitchell’s Ryan Sykes evened the score with Mitchell on the man advantage shortly after, but Catto made it 2-1 Kincardine heading to the first break after burying a Moore feed.
Brandon Priestap scored from Catto and Feagan to make it 3-1 early in the second frame, and Dylan Bedard made it 3-2 a few minutes later. Then, the floodgates opened. Kincardine scored four goals in the final nine minutes of the period. Catto had two of them to complete the hat trick, while Britton and Mike Smailes each scored singles to make it 7-2 after two periods. The line of Catto, Moore and Britton combined for 11 points in this game.
“We were just working hard, finishing our hits and throwing pucks to the net. When you do that, sometimes you get more bounces and things tend to go your way. This is the second year (Britton) and I have played together, and we expect a lot from one another. It’s been a hot start. Throwing Moore with us gives us a ton of speed up and the bang and crash guy we needed. We’re clicking right now and hopefully it keeps up.”
Dave Mercer made it 8-2 before Mitchell rallied for three straight goals in a four minute span. Zach Goodhew had two of those goals. Will Marcy had the other. But any hopes of a comeback were dashed when rookie Ethan Skinner scored his first regular season Junior C goal, an unassisted beauty. It was the final nail in Mitchell’s coffin with three minutes to play.
Elsewhere in the Western Junior C League on the weekend, the Walkerton Hawks earned four points with a 5-1 win over the Hanover Barons and a 4-3 win over Wingham Saturday night. Wingham had shut out Mount Forest 4-0 the previous night. Also Saturday night, Mitchell beat Hanover 5-3.
This weekend is a big one, in many regards for the Bulldogs. They have big road games against Wingham and Mitchell, and Hockey Day in Kincardine, a fundraiser for General Manager Doug Kennedy, is Saturday and the ‘Dogs will be there.
“It’s our biggest weekend of the year, so far,” said Catto. “We have two teams with good records in their home rinks, and perhaps we have a bit of extra motivation.”
“We want to be on the winning team that (Kennedy) put together so when he gets through this battle, he can enjoy coming to the rink and watching us play. The whole team will be there to support a great day everyone has planned. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone there…fans, alumni, the whole community.”
More details are available on Saturday’s fundraiser elsewhere in this week’s sports section.
Elsewhere this weekend, Hanover will be in Mount Forest Friday night, and Saturday night Wingham will visit Mitchell while the Barons will host Walkerton.
DOG BITES: Matt Baker and Paul Lamont were both ejected with fighting majors in the second period of Friday night’s game. More than 50 minutes in penalties were doled out in the middle frame…Catto is just three points back of Aaron Armstrong for the league scoring race. He now has 15 points in just six games, and he is pulling his linemates into the race too. Moore and Britton are up to 11 points and in the mix…Friday night was Mitch Campbell’s first win in goal as a Kincardine Bulldog. . . Jaden Shrier posted the first shutout of the season in the Western Junior C League on the weekend in that 4-0 Wingham win. Those are hard to come by in the West.