By Josh Howald
All three games of the first round have been close, but that doesn't change the situation the Ripley Wolves are in now.
Beat the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks Friday and Saturday on the road, or the season is over.
The Wolves have played well in their opening round WOAA Senior AA playoff series against the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks, but haven't been able to squeak out a win. Ripley trails the two-time defending champions 3-0 in this best-of-seven, with Game 4 Friday night on the road.
Sunday afternoon, Shawn Walker scored midway through the third period to lift the Winterhawks to a 3-2 win in Game 3 of the series in Ripley and push the Wolves to the brink. Ripley had taken a two-goal lead in the first period with a pair of power play goals. Tyler DeVos and Nick Locking scored the goals, but Bryan Kazarian replied for the Winterhawks before the period ended. After a scoreless middle period, Saugeen Shores tied the game with Ryan Armstrong in the penalty box serving a roughing minor. Then just 35 seconds later, Walker sent the game winner past Kurt Edwards in the RIpley net. Edwards was stellar, making 51 stops in this contest.
Former Bulldog Brent McDermid scored in overtime to give the Winterhawks a 3-2 win the previous night, also in Ripley. This series began Friday night in Port Elgin, when the Winterhawks opened the series with a 5-2 victory.
Ripley has proved they can play with the Winterhawks. However, the question now isn't if the Wolves can beat Saugeen Shores, but can the Wolves beat Saugeen Shores in four consecutive games? It isn't an enviable position for Ripley, but this team hasn't shown any signs of packing it in thus far.
If Ripley can stave off elimination and force a fifth game, it will be played Saturday night in Port Elgin. A possible Game 6 would be in Ripley Sunday and a Game 7 would be played Tuesday in Port.
Elsewhere in the WOAA North Division, Mapleton-Minto leads Lucknow 2-0, Elora holds a 2-0 lead on Shelburne and the Durham Thundercats are holding a 3-0 lead on the Shallow Lake Crushers. In the WOAA South Division, Tillsonburg is up 3-0 on Goderich, Tavistock holds a 2-1 lead over Milverton, Clinton is up 3-1 on Petrolia while Komoka has already disposed of the Monkton Wildcats in four straight games.