Tyler Waugh Photo
Hinton will go into its first-round match up against the Barrhead Bombers on a one-game losing skid after a 5-4 overtime loss to the Bombers to close out the regular season schedule March 7.
The loss marked the first time Barrhead beat Hinton this season, and comes on the heels of some progressively closer games leading into the post season.
Hinton fell behind 2-0 in the first period before a pair of Talon Thomas goals in the opening minutes of the second frame pull the Timberwolves even at 2-2. Brendan Auger scored with 17.2 seconds left in the period to give Hinton a 3-2 lead heading into the second intermission.
Jamahl Eakett scored a shorthanded marker with 12:07 left in the game to pull Hinton ahead again at 4-3, but Yoshtin Gunner got the equalizer for Barrhead with only 3:15 remaining to force overtime and then Oleksander Davydenko completed the home team comeback with the OT winner with 35 seconds remaining.
Max Sturko and Eakett had a pair of assists in the loss while Thien Gamble had one of his own. Adam Robertson made 42 stops in net.
Hinton finished second in the Provincial Division with a record of 33-11-1-2 and draw third-place Barrhead (12-32-2-1) in the first round of league playoffs starting this coming weekend.
Meanwhile, the Edson Aeros (44-3-0-0) finished first and draw the Cold Lake Hornets (9-35-2) in the first round.
Cold Lake gave the Timberwolves a bit of a scare March 5 in the last regular season home game for Hinton, chasing starting goalie Robertson from the game and building a 7-3 lead late in the second period.
Logan Arsenault scored with 6:44 left in the second period, to queue the comeback. Jakob Arsenault, with his second of the game, Brendan Auger and Trent Keewatin also scored to pull Hinton even at 7-7.
The Timberwolves appeared to catch a break on the winning goal by Max Sturko with 7:27 remaining as the whistle appeared to blow just before the puck rolled out from under Bombers goalie Riley Tucker and across the line.
Jamahl Eakett got the insurance marker into an empty net with 50 seconds remaining to cap off a two-goal, four-point game. Gamble also scored for Hinton, while Alim Darmenov had four helpers and Dimitri Buttazzoni, Bryant Joeph and Artur Chirkov had two assists each.
Hinton outshot Barrhead 60-29. Robertson made 15 stops for Hinton before being pulled and Kolter Pawlick made seven stops in relief.
Hinton hosts Barrhead for the best two of three playoff series with Game 1 on March 13 at 8 pm. Game 2 is scheduled for March 14 at 7:30 pm and, if necessary, Game 3 will go on March 15 at 2 pm.
The March 7 loss to Barrhead was the only blemish in an otherwise perfect head to head record for Hinton, that included a preseason win and 10-straight regular season wins. Hinton has outscored Barrhead 60-23 in the regular season series, but the past two games have been one-goal decisions.
The winner of this series will play the winner of the Edson-Cold Lake series for a chance to represent the Provincial Divison at the Western States Hockey League championship tournament, The Thorne Cup, this April in Greeley, Colorado. The four divisional winners join the host squad, the Northern Colorado Eagles, as well as a wild card entry in competition for the Cup.