Wolves drop playoff opener in overtime

Section: 
Sports

By Josh Howald

It couldn't have been much more of a back-and-forth game on Friday night in Ripley between the Wolves and the Tillsonburg Thunder.

No lead lasted more than five minutes in this game, the opening contest of the WOAA Senior A round robin playoffs, which also includes Lucknow, Milverton and Shelburne.

Adam Vandepole's goal at 14:45 of overtime was the difference on this night, giving the Thunder a 5-4 win on the road. It didn't take long for bad blood to develop, despite the fact these two teams have never played against each other before. Four players were ejected in the second period of a penalty-filled game.

On a first period power play, Justin Lightfoot scored for the Thunder to open the scoring. Ripley's Ryan Dudgeon replied three minutes later, this time with the Wolves on a man advantage. Tyler McCarthy and Dylan Sayle assisted on the goal. The Thunder made it 2-1 just 35 seconds into the second, but two minutes later Drew Davidson scored from Brett Catto and Brian Stanley to make it 2-2. A shorthanded goal by Tillsonburg's Nathan Peacock put the Thunder ahead once again, but Tim Dwinnell tied the game four minutes later with an unassisted tally. Dwinnell scored his second early in the third to give Ripley its first lead of the evening. Stanley and Dustin Catto had the helpers. That lead lasted less than three minutes. Ryan Stephenson's second goal of the game knotted things up at 14:45 of the third period, and it stayed 4-4 until VandePole's overtime winner.

Tommy Lee got the win in goal for Tillsonburg with 32 stops. Mitch Campbell made 36 saves for Ripley, including 19 in the third period to keep the score even.

Tillsonburg stayed in Kincardine Friday night and played the Lucknow Lancers on Saturday. That didn't go quite as well for the Thunder, with the Lancers taking a 6-1 win.

Ripley is in action again Friday night at home. The Milverton FourWheel Drives will be in town for a late start at 9 p.m. The Wolves will then travel to Shelburne on Saturday for an 8 p.m. game against the Muskies.

Ripley, Lucknow and Shelburne from the WOAA North Division and Tillsonburg and Milverton from the WOAA South will play this preliminary round and then eliminate the fifth place team. The other four will play a semi-final series with the winners playing a series for the WOAA Sr. A championship. The Wolves are the defending A champs. Meanwhile, the top four teams in each of the South and North are competing for a AA crown.

First place Mapleton-Minto is up 2-0 on the fourth seeded Shallow Lake Crushers after 7-0 and 6-3 wins on the weekend. Game 3 is in Palmerston Friday night. The other North Division semi-final is even at 1-1 following a split between the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks and the Durham Thundercats. The second and third place teams each won their home game, with Game 3 Friday night in Durham.

In the WOAA South, the top-seeded Clinton Radars hammered Huron East 9-2 and 5-2 to take a 2-0 series lead on the Centenaires. Game 3 is in Seaforth Friday night at 8:30 p.m. Finally, Petrolia and Tavistock split the first two games of their series.