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Do or die tonight for the Nicol Insurance Kincardine Bulldogs.
Cody Britton, seen here in Game 5 against Mitchell, has seven goals and 10 assists in eight playoff games for Kincardine. (Josh Howald photo)
Kincardine finds itself in a deep 3-0 hole to the Walkerton Hawks in a best-of-seven Western Junior C Hockey League semi-final series, with Game 4 tonight at home.
A pair of 8-7 losses in Games 1 and 2 have the dogs facing elimination tonight, the first of which came in overtime at the Davidson Centre Sunday afternoon. Wednesday night in Walkerton, the 'Dogs pressed in the third period to force an extra period, but couldn't find an equalizer.
Should Kincardine lose tonight, it would mark the second straight season they would fall victim to a Walkerton sweep. Kincardine finished the regular season in fourth place overall with a 17-16-3 record and eliminated the Mitchell Hawks in five games in the opening round of the postseason. Walkerton, meanwhile, failed to finish first overall for the first time in six seasons, but still received an opening round pass for finishing second behind the Wingham ironmen. Walkerton still had a tremendous regular season record of 23-6-6.
So far this series has been a bit of a shootout. Kincardine has allowed 21 goals through the first three games of this series, not good enough for playoff success and making their own 14 goals irrelevant. The Bulldogs pulled starter Mitch Campbell from the net midway through Game 3 for Paul Boyadjian, but it had little impact on the outcome. Campbell has a save percentage of .889 and a GAA of 3.74 through the first three games of the playoffs. The offensive load for Kincardine is being carried by Cody Britton and Brett Catto - much like the regular season. The duo has combined for 36 playoff points in eight games, and sit 1-2 in playoff scoring. Walkerton, meanwhile, has no players among the league scoring leaders, but are getting offensive production from three different lines. In goal, Trevor Fleming doesn't have great numbers - a 4.5 GAA and a save percentage of just .853 - but he has three big ones in the W column.
The other semi-final series could also end tonight. The Wingham Ironmen are up 3-0 on the Hanover Barons, with Game 4 tonight at the P&H Centre in Hanover. It's an 8 p.m. start. This series has been all Ironmen, since the drop of the puck. The Barons, who shocked the Mount Forest Patriots by coming back from a 3-0 hole to win in Game 7, have been outscored 28=7 by Wingham in the first three games.
If Kincardine can pull out a win tonight at home, Game 5 would be played tomorrow night (Saturday) in Walkerton. Game 6 would be Sunday in Kincardine, and if the Bulldogs can live to see a Game 7, that would be played one week from tonight in the county capital.
The puck drops for Game 4 tonight (Friday) at 8:30 p.m. at the Davidson Centre in Kincardine. For those of you unable to make it, the game will be broadcast live on MyFM 95.5 with the pregame show beginning at 8:25 p.m. Updates will also be available on the Pointstreak website throughout the night.
Finally, don't forget about another big game in town this weekend. The Kincardine Milller Insurance midget Kinucks will host Game 4 of the OMHA quarter-final series with Ennismore Saturday night at 8 p.m. The teams are all even after two games, with Game 3 to be played tonight in Ennismore.
Of course, for updates, visit this site tomorrow and be sure to pick up a copy of next week's print edition of The Kincardine Independent for the full stories!
- Josh Howald
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