By Mac Christie, Times-Advocate Staff
PORT STANLEY – The Exeter Hawks fell 3-2 to the Port Stanley Sailors Saturday in Port Stanley, dropping their record to 17-16-2, good for fifth place in the SOJHL's Yeck Conference.
With only two games remaining in the regular season, Hawks head coach Dale Timmermans said it was a close game against the third-place Sailors.
"We came out of the gate a little slow in the first period," he explained. "It was a good hard-fought game, we just weren't getting the bounces until the end of the second period."
Port Stanley scored the lone goal of the first period, and struck again on the power play in the second frame to take a 2-0 lead into the third.
Exeter's Dylan Bedard drew the Hawks within one with a short-handed marker just under eight minutes into the period, but Port Stanley regained a two-goal lead with just over four minutes to play.
Although Cam Jude cut the lead to 3-2 with 1:31 to play, that was all Exeter would manage in the loss.
Colton James made 37 saves for the Hawks, who managed 37 shots on the Port Stanley goal.
Timmermans said the Hawks are using the two games left in the season to prepare for playoffs.
"We want the two wins," he noted, "but it's two games to prepare for that first round of the playoffs and we want to work on that small stuff.
"The last two games we want to be puck-hungry and force the play in every situation."
He noted both James and Bryan Paolotto have been playing well in goal for the Hawks.
"We've talked to them all along and said come playoff time we're going to ride the hot guy," he explained. "They've both been playing really good games, so they've been making it tough on us.
"As long as they're doing that they're both going to see ice time."
Timmermans added the Hawks are hoping to add a piece or two by the Jan. 10 trade deadline.
"We're hoping to swing a couple of deals to pick up a couple of key pieces to the puzzle," he explained.
Hawks hammer Trojans
Friday night on home ice the Hawks disposed of the fourth-place Thamesford Trojans with a 6-1 win.
Timmermans said the Hawks played well in the win.
"We did everything we've been working on, getting pucks to the net hard and came out with a good win," he said.
He noted the Hawks outshot Thamesford 44-28 in the win.
Matthew McLellan put Exeter on the board first, scoring the lone goal of the opening period.
The second period was all Exeter, as Dylan Bedard scored twice, while Kalvin Thornton and Trevor Thornton also scored for the Hawks.
Taylor Moir put the Hawks up 6-0 three minutes into the third and despite allowing a power play goal midway through the period, the Hawks coasted to the win.
Bryan Paolotto made 27 saves in the Exeter net to record the win.
Timmermans noted the Hawks showed good drive and desire to play in the win.
Hawks edge Stars 6-4
The Exeter Hawks defeated the North Middlesex Stars 6-4 Dec. 30 in Exeter.
Timmermans noted the Hawks had an inconsistent game against the Stars.
"We had some spurts where we played at their level," he said. "They've had a tough season, Parkhill. We did jump on them at the start of the second, but then we kind of let off."
Exeter's Austin Carter put the Hawks on the board 2:36 into the game and John Kingma notched a power-play goal midway through the period as the Hawks took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Timmermans said Carter, 16, is a floating affiliate player from Ilderton, He noted each team is allowed one floating affiliate, a player from a system that doesn't have a junior team in their centre.
"He's a big kid and he plays the style we're trying to preach," Timmermans said of Carter, who is allowed to play 10 games with the Hawks until his midget season ends. "He's doing really well when he comes into the lineup."
The Hawks scored twice in the first minute of the second period as Mitch Wild scored with the man advantage and Conner Preston added another 28 seconds later.
North Middlesex's Jeremy Vandeven got one back just over two minutes later, but Cam Jude added a power-play goal to put the Hawks ahead 5-1 at 7:02.
However, North Middlesex scored three straight before the end of the period. Ben Lawton and Tommy Prokes both scored power-play goals and Nic Kowaluk added an even strength marker to make it 5-4 at the second intermission.
The score stayed tied and despite chances both ways in the third, Exeter captain Trevor Thornton scored the only goal of the period into an empty net with seven seconds remaining.
Colton James made 18 saves for the Hawks in the win, while Exeter recorded 43 shots.
Timmermans said the Hawks tried to keep their intensity up in the game.
"It's typical with most teams when you're playing a bottom team in the league you play to their level," he explained. "We were lucky to squeeze out a win."
Sailors top Hawks 3-2
The Exeter Hawks fell to the Port Stanley Sailors 3-2 Dec. 28 in Exeter.
Timmermans noted the Hawks played well, despite the loss.
"It was a pretty even game all around," he said. "Port Stanley's a good club, one of the teams we're fighting with in the standings.
"Against a team like them (that) is physical, we have to stay out of the box a bit more."
Port Stanley scored a power-play goal for the only goal in the first period, but Dylan Bedard scored for the Hawks in the second to tie the score at 1-1 heading into the third.
Port Stanley took the lead 11:31 into the period and scored again with two minutes to play for a 3-1 lead.
Although Brodie Balcom scored with 19 seconds to play, that was all the Hawks would manage in the loss.
Bryan Paolotto made 32 saves for the Hawks, who managed 38 shots on the Port Stanley goal.
The Hawks are next in action Jan. 11 at 8 p.m. in Exeter against the Mount Brydges Bulldogs.