Thunder upset Hawks in OT

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Tillsonburg Thunder’s Corbin Bean lifted fans out of their seats 4:48 into sudden overtime Sunday night at the Kinsmen Memorial Arena.

Corbin Bean, who had a goal and assist in Game 4 of the WOAA AA first-round series against Saugeen Shores Winterhawks, scored on a rush from the blueline to give Tillsonburg a 3-2 victory, and 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven playoff series.

“Rebs (Mike Rebry) made a good play… he battled with a defenceman and got it to me in the middle,” said Bean. “I just kind of used the defenceman as a screen and hoped for the best, and luckily it went in. Great play by Rebs to get it to me there.”

Tillsonburg outshot Saugeen Shores 53-37.

The line of Rebry, Bean and Zach VanLouwe, who were dangerous all night and had hooked up midway through the third on Eric Landridge’s game-tying goal, had one of their best chances in the final seconds of regulation time – still tied 2-2.

“Rebs gave it to me and it was a two-on-one,” said Bean. “I kind of faked a shot, gave it back to Rebs, and he was in alone there. Tried to go top shelf but just missed. It almost bounced off (goalie Jeff Flagler) and went in, but… it was a good save by the goalie.

“I was hoping that’d go in,” Bean smiled.

A St. Thomas minor hockey product, Bean played a lot of hockey on the other side of the rink from Rebry – and VanLouwe – who both started in Langton. The chemistry between the three has been there since they connected in Tillsonburg.

“I feel like we’re all the same kind of player,” said Bean. “All three of us use our speed to our advantage. We kind of had that instant chemistry. I played against Rebry growing up – I played for Elgin Middlesex Chiefs (while Rebry played for Brantford). And when he played for Norwich (Merchants), I played for Aylmer (Spitfires) as well. So we kind of knew each other growing up. So instant chemistry and it’s just been kind of working for us.”

Winning in overtime gave the No. 6 seed Thunder their second two-game advantage in the series against WOAA’s No. 3 team.

“That was the biggest game of the series right there,” said Bean. “A 3-1 lead rather than going back there 2-2, so it was a huge win. A big effort by all the boys. Tommy (Lee) played well, kept us in there – he made huge saves to keep it at 2-2 (in the third). He gave us a chance there and luckily we could squeeze it out in overtime.”

Saugeen Shores had won their first game of the series 6-4 in Port Elgin Friday night.

“We got off to a slow start there, they brought the pressure early and we kind of had some bus legs.”

Saugeen Shores took a 4-2 lead in the second period and held on for the win, preventing Tillsonburg from taking a 3-0 series lead.

“We got into some penalty trouble, which kind of cost us the game. I think they got three or four power-play goals. That was the key up there. Tonight, we had to stay out of the box – we knew we couldn’t do that again.”

The series continues Friday, Feb. 21st in Port Elgin. Game 6, if necessary, will be back in Tillsonburg on Saturday, Feb. 22 (7:30 p.m.). If Port Elgin wins back-to-back, a deciding seventh game will be played in Port Elgin on Sunday the 23rd at 4 p.m.

The Thunder, however, have their eyes only on Friday’s game.

“We’re feeling a lot more confident going up there now that we have that cushion, the 3-1 lead. It would have been a little more nerve-racking going up there 2-2. A lot more comfortable, more confident, and we’ll be ready to go when we go up there on Friday.”

Eight WOAA teams are vying for the AA championship trophy. In other quarter-final series, eighth seed Durham is tied 2-2 with No. 1 seed Ripley; Clinton and Seaforth are tied 2-2; and Minto – the No. 7 seed – leads Shelburne 3-1 after Sunday’s 4-2 victory in Minto.

“There is a lot of parity in the league,” said Thunder GM Bill Ryan, noting the lower seeds are holding their own so far.

Tillsonburg 3, Saugeen Shores 2 OT

Thunder scoring: 1. Kaine Geldhart (Matt Laberge, Derek Slaght); 2. Eric Langridge (Corbin Bean, Zach VanLouwe); 3. Corbin Bean (Zach VanLouwe, Mike Rebry).