EXETER – For the second year in a row the Exeter Hawks are headed to the PJHL Yeck Division finals.
The Hawks, who won the Yeck Division championship last year, are hoping to make it two championship seasons in a row as they eliminated the Mount Brydges Bulldogs in the semi-finals on the weekend. The Hawks will now face the Thamesford Trojans in the finals. The Trojans, who finished the regular season in first place, one point ahead of the Hawks, eliminated the Dorchester Dolphins in five games in the other Yeck Division semi-final series.
The Hawks eliminated Mount Brydges in game five on March 6 at the South Huron Rec Centre in a tight 2-1 victory which saw several highlight reel saves from both goaltenders. In the end, Hawks goalie Devyn Clark made 27 saves to seal the victory.
Exeter got on the board at 3:45 of the first period on a shorthanded goal from Nick Sammons, assisted by Nick Overholt. The Hawks headed into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead, and there would be no more scoring until late in the second, when Exeter’s Sam Dupuis put one past Bulldogs goalie Mitchell Van Eindhoven, with an assist by Luke Colafransceschi.
The Hawks held onto the 2-0 lead throughout most of the third period but, on a power play and with the goalie pulled for the extra man, the Bulldogs got on the board in the dying minutes of the game with a goal from Noah Bruinink, assisted by Tye Johnson.
With the score at 2-1, the Bulldogs took a couple of ill-timed penalties and the Hawks held on for the series-clinching win. Exeter outshot the Bulldogs 32-28. The Hawks were scoreless in their six power play opportunities, while the Bulldogs were one for five with the man advantage.
The Hawks have been nearly unbeatable so far in the playoffs, sweeping the Lucan Irish in the first round and winning the first three games of their semi-final series against Mount Brydges. But they were unable to complete the sweep when the Bulldogs beat the Hawks 5-3 in game four on March 3 in Mount Brydges.
Exeter’s Yeck Division final series against the Trojans starts Friday in Thamesford at 7:30 p.m. Game two is set for the South Huron Rec Centre in Exeter Saturday night at 8 p.m., while game three is back in Thamesford Sunday at 8 p.m. Exeter hosts game four on Tues., March 17 at 8:30 p.m.