Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by R. Mansfield
The Clarington Eagles came to play Thursday evening when they hosted the Lakefield Chiefs at Rickard Arena. First they beat their guests on the scoreboard, putting up their second straight shutout in a 7-0 victory. Then they showed they were not a team that could be pushed around when the Chiefs’ frustrations reached a boiling point.
The Eagles wasted no time getting on the scoreboard in the contest.
With Clarington serving an early two-minute minor, Hayes Bell found Leyton Aitken alone in front short handed to put Lakefield on their heels three minutes in.
Less than two minutes after the Aitken tally, the Eagles struck again. With all kinds of traffic in front of the Chiefs’ goal, defenseman Ryan Hall fired a seeing eye wrister from the point which beat the goalkeeper cleanly just inside the far post.
Lakefield was reeling and the Eagles were not about to ease up. On the very next shift, Trevor Urquhart pounced on a rebound from an Ethan Schoonderbeek point shot for his 20th of the campaign.
Less than six minutes into the game, the Eagles found themselves up 3-0. But they weren’t about to stop there.
With only two seconds remaining in the first period, defenseman Kyle Shepherd was left untouched in the high slot. Shepherd snapped a shot through a screen that found the back of the net, giving the Eagles a 4-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
The second period felt like the longest 20 minutes of the season. A steady stream of minor penalties and whistles interrupted the flow of the game, leading to a long drawn out middle frame.
But Clarington was able to pad their already commanding lead with two more goals.
Seven minutes in, rookie Brayden Hicks dished a pass to Joe Boice who got in alone on the goalkeeper and executed a perfect backhand deke to make it 5-0.
Shepherd added his second of the game late in the period on an Eagles powerplay. The crafty skater appeared to have held on to the puck too long after taking a pass from Urquhart on the left flank. He elected not to shoot and instead circled behind the Lakefield net. His centering pass banked into the open goal off a Chiefs defender to put Clarington up 6-0 after two.
Kyle Smith added another short-handed goal three minutes into the third from Urquhart and Kayden Hambly to finish off the scoring.
Shortly after goal number seven, tempers began to flare. Hall was ejected from the game for removing his own helmet as he and a Chiefs player attempted to square off. The linesmen intercepted the two combatants and sent them to their respective dressing rooms before they could come to blows.
Seven minutes into the frame, Trent Gaylor had a spirited tussle in front of the Lakefield net which had the Eagles bench pumped up.
Then, just before the 10-minute mark, Nolan Matheson delivered a massive clean hit at the Lakefield blueline. The Chiefs did not take kindly to the play, resulting in another tussle in front of the Clarington bench that had the home crowd on their feet.
Matheson’s ejection for fighting combined with Hall’s ejection earlier in the period left the Eagles with only three blueliners for several minutes. Cole Williamson was already in the penalty box serving a double minor at the time of Matheson’s scrap. Good teams adapt…and captain Mitch Davies stepped up to the plate and took a few shifts filling in on the back end.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played D in my life,” said the captain with a grin. “First time playing back there. I just tried to play my position and not get in the way. But I felt alright back there.”
The game marked Dean Baumhauer’s 200th as head coach of the Eagles since taking the reins in the summer of 2019. In that timeframe, he has led the club to 153 victories. An impressive winning percentage for a coach at any level.
In typical Baumhauer fashion, he refocused discussion of the accomplishment away from himself towards the team experience.
“It’s a nice milestone I guess,” said Dean. “But for me the best part of it is I’ve gotten to work with a lot of good kids and great people. They’re all great young men who are balancing hockey with school and work. They come here and work their asses off for me. I have a lot of respect for that. These kids are all going to go on to be positive members of society when their playing days are done. I’ve been through a lot with some of these guys. They helped me through my wife’s passing, and I’ve tried to be there for them when I can help. It’s about more than just winning hockey games here. The guys always make a point of stopping to talk when I run into them out in the community. I guess that’s a sign I must be doing something right if they’re not ducking me!”
“It’s a privilege to coach these kids and to coach for an organization I played for,” Dean continued. “We’ve got a great ownership group, and I’m surrounded by a bunch of my buddies on the bench. It’s been a lot of fun and we’ve won a lot of hockey games along the way.”
Captain Mitch Davies is now in his third season under Baumhauer. “He’s just a hell of a coach,” said Mitch. “Over 150 wins in 200 games in this league is unbelievable! He’s been a top coach in this league since day one. That doesn’t happen by accident. The players here all respect him.”
Baumhauer’s club will be looking to start the climb to 300 wins on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Port Perry to take on the Lumberjacks. Game time is 2:25.
Other game notes:
Jude Rondina picked up his second shutout Thursday night since joining the Eagles in December. He now has five shutouts overall this season, good for second overall in the entire PJHL. The current PJHL shutout leader happens to be Jude’s partner in the Eagles crease, Oliver Webster with six!
Also acknowledged before Thursday’s game was Eagles trainer Craig Wilcox who has now served on the bench for 250 games. We would have included you in the article Craig, but we all know how you hate being the centre of attention!