In front of a packed house of festive fans, the Winterhawks were put to the test by the the third-place Durham Thundercats on Tuesday night but the league-leading Hawks emerged on top with a 6-4 win.
Stay-at-home defenceman Jeff Young jumped into the offence early scoring his second of the season finishing off a slick two-on-one with Brent MacDermid to put the Hawks ahead by one.
The home team widened the margin to 2-0 when Shawn Walker scored his 10th of the season with a blast from the top of the left circle. Derek Skinner got the assist.
Durham's Kevin Tremble scored on a power play with one minute left in the first to set the the stage for the second.
Curtis Johnston scored his team-leading 16th of the season when he swept in from the left side and buried the puck on the short side.
Durham responded almost immediately when a deflected shot beat Hawk goaltender Josh Carolan.
Curtis Johnston, who was dangerous all night, swooped in from the right side and scored his second of the night tucking the puck in low on the glove side.
Durham refused to relent scoring its third of the night with just over three minutes to go in the second.
The third period was only a couple of minutes old when Steve Shields put the Hawks up by a 5-3 score but Durham's power play struck again to keep the fans in their seats.
Greg Virgo sent the crowd home happy when his empty-netter sealed the deal for the Hawks with 17 seconds left.
The Winterhawks next game is in Shallow Lake on Friday, Dec. 30. The next home game is Friday, Dec. 7 when the Shelburne Muskies come to town.