Winterhawks drop opener in Clinton

Michael Johnstone & Ben Van Ooteghem scored but it wasn’t enough as the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks fell in Clinton on Friday night.

Shaking off the rust of 591 days between games, the Winterhawks fell behind early and couldn’t dig out of the hole, dropping a 5-2 road decision to open the 2021/22 WOAA Sr. “AA” Hockey League season.

Clinton jumped out to a 1-0 early on a Cullen Mercer goal, followed by Conor Carson just under two minutes later to make it 2-0 for the home side.

A power play goal for Sean Consitt expanded the Clinton lead to 3-0 late in the first period, but Johnstone struck back to get the Winterhawks on the board just under a minute later to cut the Clinton lead to 3-1.

Jay Thomson and Trevor Smith picked up assists on Johnstone’s marker, which rounded out the scoring in the opening frame.

With a period and a half under their belts and perhaps some rust shaken off, the Winterhawks climbed to within one on Van Ooteghem’s first goal as a Winterhawk at 11:33 of the second period, with assists to Matt Shields and Andy Mitchell.

Penalty trouble came back to bite the Winterhawks, who picked up three minor penalties in the final three minutes of the middle frame, which led to a Clinton power play goal by Steven Shipley to give the Radars a 4-2 lead after two.

Consitt’s second of the game at the midway point of the third period sank any hope of a comeback, giving Clinton a 5-2 win.

Jeff Flagler took the loss in goal, making 29 saves in his season debut.

The Winterhawks make their long-awaited return home next Friday night, October 15th, when the Seaforth Centenaires visit The Plex for an 8:30 p.m. start.

The team will announce COVID-19 safety protocols and procedures prior to the game.

The provincial government’s recent announcement lifting capacity restrictions for indoor sporting events means there will be ample capacity for all fans, however, proof of full vaccination (or medical exemption) will be required for those 12 and older.