WINCHESTER – One point left for the taking.
That was the result of the weekend slate for the Winchester Hawks, who fell 4-3 in overtime to the division rival Embrun Panthers Friday (Nov. 1) night at the Joel Steele Community Centre. The Hawks then took down the Packers 5-4 in Arnprior in a rare Sunday night (Nov. 3) road game.
“Absolutely happy with three of four points, although we think we left a key point on the table Friday night,” general manager Dom Menard said. “We could have easily been up by two or three goals in the second had Nguyen not been lights out.”
That’s William Nguyen, Embrun’s starting goaltender, for those following along.
To date, the Ottawa native is carrying a CCHL2 best 0.951 save percentage and a goals against average of 1.81 with a record of 7-3-0-0 and two shutouts.
“He is one of the best in the league, and is a big part of Embrun’s success,” Menard said.
The Panthers got on the board first Friday night when Tyler Cummins (from Carter Peck and Eric Skyba) beat Hawks’ starter Lucas Devries.
Eric Vitale, with an unassisted effort, evened the count at 1-1 before the period ended.
Both sides traded goals in the second with Kyle Kuehni (from Marco Haw and Danny Johnson) striking first for Winchester, and Luke Peck (from Jarrett Ladouceur and Marshall Drevniok) responding later for Embrun.
It was the same story in the third, though this time Ladouceur (unassisted) put Embrun ahead first, forcing Nicolas Corry (from Ryan Nielsen) to pull the Hawks even at 3-3.
Overtime was on the docket, though it ended just as quickly as the session began.
Just 16 seconds in, with the Panthers’ first shot, Robert Beaudoin (from Matthieu Brennan) sent the visitors home with a 4-3 win.
The Hawks entered the extra session down a man with Jacob Giaccobi having gone off for slashing late in the third period.
In all it was a relatively calm affair between the Martin Division, with the Hawks taking just 12 minutes in penalties and the Panthers being assessed a stingy six. Embrun connected on two of five powerplay opportunities, while Winchester put up another zero in that category.
In Arnprior Sunday night, the Hawks needed a healthy share of determination to pull out the win.
Already starting the night two players short, and calling on affiliated player Braden Cheney to fill out the backend, Winchester then lost the services of Bradley Wells (concussion) and Nathan Lassenba (charley horse) in the first period.
Despite this, Nielsen (from Kuehni and Vitale) put the Hawks on the board first.
In the second, the Packers broke through for two goals, though Winchester responded with a pair of its own, coming off the stick of Kyle Fleming (from Noah Weatherall) and Kuehni (from Danny Johnson and Vitale).
Both sides traded goals once again in the third, with Kuehni (from Nielsen and Colby Schroeder) and Vitale (from Fleming and Nielsen) counting two for Winchester before Arnprior battled back with two.
Nielsen’s first period marker proved to be the difference.
“Sunday was a gutsy effort by the boys,” Menard said. “Arnprior dominated most of the second, but [Cole] Defazio kept us in the game. The boys responded well in the third, and
Arnprior got a couple of lucky bounces… The third goal just trickled across the line and the fourth goal went off a skate to make it close.”
No matter, Winchester’s backup netminder was steady, stopping 37 of 41 shots faced on the night, earning first star honours.
Kuehni’s two goals got him a second star performance.
“All in all, a good weekend,” Menard said.
News and notes
• With a regulation win and an overtime loss, the Hawks season total to date moved to 7-3-2-1 for 17 points and fifth in the Martin Division. That’s seven points clear of the sixth place Char-Lan Rebels and just three back of the Ottawa West Golden Knights for fourth.
• On the injury front, both Garrett Craig (concussion) and Kyle Green (groin) are expected back in the Hawks line-up this weekend, while Nathan Lassenba (charley horse) and Nolan Guertin (knee) are day to day. Bradley Wells (concussion) is also expected to miss some time.
• Looking to be fully healed from his shoulder injury, Cameron Cotnam got some games under his belt with the Hawks before jumping into action with the CCHL’s Kemptville 73s in that team’s pair of losses on the weekend. Whether he’s back with the Hawks for the club’s next two will be known later this week.
• Menard was looking to add another defenceman, and he’s done that by bringing back a familiar face. In a trade with the Alexandria Glens, the Hawks have reacquired the services of Graeme Buffone in exchange for a player development fee. Traded in the summer for Maverick Baxtrom (who never suited up for the Hawks, instead heading to the Edson Aeros of Albert’s Western States Hockey League), Buffone was held pointless on a dreadful Glens squad. In 36 games with Winchester last season, he had six goals and seven assists.
• Up next, the Richmond Royals are in town Fri., Nov. 8, and the Hawks head to Carleton Place to take on the Jr. Canadians Sat., Nov. 19.