The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks won handily on a night they honoured their former captain.
The team held a pre-game ceremony to recognize the career of Greg Thede, who held the captaincy for 11 seasons before retiring following the 2017/18 season.
Thede was presented with a Hugo Boss watch courtesy of Elgin Jewellers, as well as a plaque from game sponsor Rowland’s Your Independent Grocer in recognition of his contributions, both on and off the ice.
Once the puck dropped, the Winterhawks took to the Elora Rocks early and often.
Mike Rocca opened the scoring at 2:28 of the 1st period, after Matt Shields ripped a one-timer that squeaked through Elora goaltender Austin Hoegy, with Rocca right on the doorstep to help the puck across the goalline.
Jeff Flagler got the start for the Winterhawks, and while he was barely tested by the Rocks in the opening frame, he came up with the saves when required.
Shields was at it again late in the period, stripping the Elora defender of the puck deep in the Rocks zone, centering to Connor Patton, who ripped a wrist shot past Hoegy to give the Winterhawks a 2-0 lead at 14:24.
The Winterhawks continued the pressure, going up 3-0 just 1:05 later when Michael Johnstone drove the Elora net and banged his own rebound past Hoegy, with assists to Andy Mitchell and James McHaig.
Rocca added his second of the night to cap a four-goal 1st period for the Winterhawks, stripping the puck from the Elora defender and snapping the puck past Hoegy to make it 4-0.
Elora got into penalty trouble in the 2nd period, but it was the Rocks who were able to capitalize.
Lyam Cripps stepped out of the box as an Elora penalty was ending, and was fed a breakaway pass, but Miles MacLean laid the lumber on Cripps and was whistled for a penalty shot.
Cripps made no mistake on the penalty shot, out-waiting Flagler to get Elora on the board at 4-1.
The Rocks continued to take penalties and the Winterhawks struck back on the power play.
The Winterhawks worked the puck down low to Curtis Johnston, who played it out front to Bryan Kazarian for the quick one-timer conversion, restoring the four-goal lead at 5-1, with Andy Fracz also picking up an assist.
MacLean added to the lead before the middle frame ended, taking a long pass from Flagler and snapping the puck off the rush through the legs of Hoegy to make it 6-1 Winterhawks after two.
The Winterhawks capped off the scoring in the 3rd period on a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing by Kazarian and Johnston, capped off with a tap-in goal for Josh Deyell, arriving at a 7-1 final for Saugeen Shores.
Rocca was named The Wismer House Player of the Game for his two-goal performance, while Flagler picked up the win in goal.
The win improves the Winterhawks record to 12-5-1 on the season, keeping pace with the Durham Thundercats for 3rd place, who also won on Friday night.
With three games left in the regular season, the Winterhawks and Thundercats are tied at 27 points, three points ahead of 5th place Petrolia.
A tall task awaits the Winterhawks tonight [Saturday], as they travel to Clinton to face the 1st place Radars. Game time is 7:30 p.m.