WINCHESTER – What should have been a pre-Christmas push for the Winchester Hawks instead turned into a weekend salvage operation in an attempt to keep the season afloat.
The CCHL2 team played all three games this weekend with at least five regulars out of the lineup either due to injury or exams. Sunday saw the Hawks play their third game in four nights with only 13 skaters suiting up. To compound the problems, leading scorer Miguel Pare (ankle injury) and Kieran Gaynor (shoulder injury) are both out for at least another month or maybe more.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Hawks as 17-year-old Colby Schroeder, who plays u18 in Kemptville and played nine games for Winchester last year, made his season debut and had three points versus the Richmond Royals on Fri., Dec. 7.
When reached for comment, Winchester general manager Dom Menard said Schroeder is an exciting player who will help out in the short term, but believes he is ready now to contribute at the junior level.
“We had hoped that he would play with us this year, but he opted to play his final year of u18. He is ready for junior and can be an impact player as seen by his game Friday night. He will play the 10 games with us this year for sure,” Menard said.
With four games remaining before the Christmas break and the Hawks eight points out of a playoff spot, they will need a full team effort to have any hope of staying within striking distance of the pack.
Golden Knights 5 – Hawks 1
The Hawks travelled to Barbara Ann Scott Arena Thurs., Dec. 6 to take on the third place Ottawa West Golden Knights.
Winners of two of their last three games, the Golden Knights were looking to avenge a 6-3 loss to the Hawks back in November.
Winchester got on the board first when Kyle Fleming notched his second of the year on an assist from Eric DeRepentigny just past the five-minute mark of the first period. The Hawks took the 1-0 lead into the locker room despite being outshot 12-8.
The Golden Knights tied it at 3:42 of the second period and then just under three minutes later the proverbial wheels game off for the Hawks.
Max Bush scored on the powerplay at 6:39 for the Knights to put them up 2-1. On the same play, the Hawks’ Graeme Buffone collected 32 minutes in penalties, including a two-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, two 10-minute unsportsmanlike misconducts and a game misconduct.
The Golden Knights scored on the ensuing powerplay and added one more before the end of the second to make it 4-1.
Nolan Marshall added one more in the third for the Knights to make it a decisive 5-1 final.
Justin Jamer, Michael Gallivan, Bush and Marshall all had multi-point games for the Knights while Brent Pledge-Dickson was steady again, stopping 34 of 39 shots in a losing effort for the Hawks.
Hawks 6 – Royals 5 SO
Playing their second game in two nights, the Hawks had a chance to make up some ground in the playoff chase with the lowly Richmond Royals in town Fri., Dec. 7.
The Royals had a league worst 10 points entering the game, but had won two in a row for the first time this season at the end of November.
The Royals had also previously defeated the Hawks 6-3 in October.
Lucas Devries made his first start for the Hawks and he quickly found out what it was like to tend the Winchester goal as they were outshot 17-6 in the opening frame.
Despite being badly outshot, the Hawks held an early 2-0 lead on goals by Kyle Kuehni and Dillon Clemen. Schroeder, River Gull, Colby Byrnes-Shaw and Ben Medysky all picked up their first assists of the season on the two Hawk goals.
The lead was, however, short-lived as the Royals stormed back with four goals in less than seven minutes to take a 4-2 lead to the dressing room after 20 minutes of play.
Danny Johnson got the Hawks back to within one with his 10th of the season with three minutes left in the middle frame and then tied it at four when he scored just 54 seconds into the third.
Schroeder completed his three-point night by scoring the go-ahead goal at 3:55 to put the Hawks up 5-4, but the Royals battled back less than three minutes later and tied it on a marker from Patrick Yates.
The rest of regulation and overtime solved nothing and the teams headed to a shootout.
Hunter Randell scored on his first attempt and Devries shut out the three Royals shooters to give the Hawks an exciting 6-5 shootout victory.
Timberwolves 5 – Hawks 2
The Renfrew Timberwolves entered their Sun., Dec. 9 matchup versus the Hawks on a three-game losing streak – their last win coming Nov. 23 against Perth.
However, it was Winchester who stormed out of the gates with a 20-12 edge in shots and a 1-0 lead thanks to Buffone with his unassisted marker at 15:55.
The Timberwolves bit back with their special teams in the second period. Andrew McIntyre scored short-handed at 14:46, Luka Marinic scored on the powerplay at 16:26 and Nick Cuddy rounded out the scoring 50 seconds later at even strength to give the Timberwolves a 3-1 lead.
William MacDonald brought the Hawks back to within one just past the halfway mark of the third, but Cuddy scored his second of the game with less than three minutes remaining to ice the victory.
The Timberwolves added an empty net goal to make it a 5-2 final, dropping the Hawks record to 9-14-2.
The Hawks will hope to bounce back on the road as their next three contests are all away from the Joel Steele Community Centre. Tomorrow night (Thurs., Dec. 13) they visit the always powerful Casselman Vikings before a crucial Friday night showdown in Alexandria against the Glens at the Glengarry Sports Palace. They close out the weekend with a rematch against the Royals in Richmond Sun., Dec. 16.
The Hawks will play their final game before Christmas Fri., Dec. 21 when the Embrun Panthers come to town.