Bulldogs win two in OT


By Josh Howald

The ‘Dogs are Shawn a roll.

Shawn Moore celebrates the first of his three goals Sunday at the Davidson Centre. (Josh Howald photo)

Back-to-back overtime wins on the weekend have moved the Nicol Insurance Kincardine Bulldogs to within two points of first place in the Western Junior C hockey league.

While the newly acquired Shawn Rooke wielded the dagger in overtime Saturday night in Mitchell, Sunday afternoon’s double overtime victory over the Wingham Ironmen belonged to veteran Shawn Moore.

"We were missing eight regulars on Saturday night, and six on Sunday," said head coach Steve Stepaniak. "So we're very happy with the four points."

With the teams playing 3-on-3 hockey in double overtime, Moore scored his third goal of the afternoon to lift the Bulldogs to a 4-3 win and send one of the largest crowds of the season home buzzing.

Of Moore’s nine goals this season, five have come in the last three games. Four were this weekend. He missed a significant number of games due to a co-op placement, but should be with the Bulldogs full time now down the stretch.

After a scoreless opening period, the goals came fast and furious in the middle frame. Wingham’s Matt McCracken was called for a trip in the offensive end, and Jordan Bell scored on the power play to give Kincardine the first goal of the game. Eric Langridge, who played a stellar game on the back end, and Patrick Wiejak assisted on Bell’s sixth of the season.

"Langridge has been a rock on the blue line for us," said Stepaniak. "Unbelievable he is only 17. A lot of nights he is our best D, and one of the best in the  league. His work ethic is incredible, and he will have his choice of Junior B teams to move onto next year."

Two minutes later, Bailey Poels answered for Wingham from McCracken and Will Kilgour. Ryan McNeil scored his 24th goal of the season less than a minute later to put the Ironmen out front. But Moore made it 2-2 when he blindly backhanded a loose puck over the pad of Braeden Ellis with a pair of defencemen hanging off him. Langridge and Gerrit Satosek had the assists. However, just 19 seconds later, Jeremy Ross restored Wingham’s lead with a goal that ended the five-goal flurry in the middle frame.

Moore scored his second goal of the game early in the third period, making it 3-3 from Brady Richards and Satosek. Kincardine almost looked to be hanging on in the final minutes of the third. Langridge made two key shot blocks with four minutes to go, and Jacob Hutchings made a couple of important stops down the stretch. Josh Stewart hit the crossbar behind Hutchings with two minutes to play, and several times the Ironmen wasted quality scoring chances by firing the puck over the net.

Each team had a good scoring chance in the first extra five minute period, but couldn’t pull the trigger. Finally, Rooke threw a puck to the net, Moore grabbed it in the slot and scored with a forehand shot just over the right pad of Ellis for the win. Ellis made 30 saves for the Ironmen, while Hutchings stopped 23 shots for the win. That “official” shot count was extremely generous to Kincardine, who nonetheless worked hard enough and smart enough to deserve the win.

It came less than 24 hours after an overtime win in Mitchell. After two scoreless periods on the road, Moore scored what looked like it might be the game winning goal early in the third frame from Langridge and Zach Freiburger. However, the Hawks forced extra time when Lucas Spence beat Hutchings with just 1:22 remaining. The ‘Dogs dominated the 4-on-4 overtime period and it was only a matter of time before Rooke ended this one.

Kincardine is now 18-8-1, two points back of first place Walkerton, though the Hawks have a game in hand. Wingham, who was edged out 3-2 on Friday night by Mount Forest, falls to 12-14-1, good for 25 points and fifth place in the West. Things are quickly tightening up in the Western League standings. Mount Forest has moved into third place with 31 points, while Mitchell is now fourth with 28. The Hanover Barons are sixth with 20 points, while Goderich is way behind with two points and a 2-24 record.

The Bulldogs will be in action again next Wednesday, Dec. 30, in Mitchell at 7:30 p.m. That will wrap up 2015 action for Kincardine. The Bulldogs will kick off 2016 on Jan. 2 with a game in Goderich at 7:30 p.m.