Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Photo by C. Archer
Perhaps things had been coming a little too easy for the Clarington Eagles so far this year.
Aside from a 6-5 overtime victory over Uxbridge last month, Dean Baumhauer’s squad had not faced a lot of adversity over their eight-game win streak to start the season. Baumhauer was expecting a tougher test this Thursday when the Bruins made their first trip to the Eagles nest…The Eagles certainly got one.
The Bruins came ready to play. They finished their checks, clogged up the neutral zone, and took advantage of the opportunities they were presented with to squeak out a last-minute 5-4 victory.
Uxbridge got on the scoreboard first four minutes into the first period. During a scramble to the side of the crease, the Bruins were finally able to whack the puck past Eagles starter Oliver Webster after multiple attempts.
The Eagles tied the game up three minutes later. Defenseman Cole Williamson gained the Uxbridge zone on the play before passing the puck back to partner Kyle Shepherd. Shepherd was able to walk in to the top of the faceoff circle before snapping a shot through a screen for his fourth goal of the season.
The Bruins restored their one goal lead less than two minutes later when a point shot bounced off a body in front past Webster.
The Bruins carried the 2-1 lead into the second period.
The teams battled back and forth for much of the second with no scoring unit the final minute. New Bruins acquisition Owen Shier, whole had just been traded from the Little Britain Merchants, scored his first of the season from the faceoff dot to give Uxbridge a 3-1 lead.
The Eagles were down, but not out.
20 seconds after the Uxbridge goal, Kolby Poulin gained the offensive zone with speed. The crafty forward ripped a shot from the wing that beat the surprised Bruins netminder short side to pull Clarington back within one heading into the third period.
Uxbridge restored the two-goal lead on a breakaway goal four minutes into the third. However, Clarington was not about to give up.
The Clarington forecheck generated numerous chances in the third, which eventually resulted in a five on three powerplay advantage. With more room to work with and Uxbridge forced into a less aggressive penalty kill, the Eagles were finally able to capitalize.
First, Ryan Hall picked the top corner from the top of the circle to get the Eagles back within one. With time remaining in the second Bruins penalty, Brayden Roberts beat the goaltender with a low shot to even the game up at four.
The teams continued to battle back and forth for the last half of the third period. Late in the frame, play was stopped when Eagles captain Mitch Davies took a cross check to the lower back in the offensive zone which went uncalled. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they took a two-minute bench minor during the
With 32 seconds to play, the Bruins scored on the resulting powerplay to take home the two points.
“Tonight was two top teams in the Division battling it out’” said Baumhauer. “We outshot and outchanced them and fought back from being down 4-2. Our top line was kept in check, but they created good looks all night. Outshooting a good team 38-23 will get you the win most nights.”
“It’s cliché, but you learn from your losses,” Dean continued. “We lost our composure a bit in the end, and it cost us. I’m looking forward to our next game against them. Tonight’s game had a playoff feel about it.”
Despite the loss, Clarington remains in first place in the Orr Division, three points ahead of the second place Bruins.
The Eagles look to get back in the win column this Saturday when they travel to Apsley to take on former Eagles assistant coach Chris Kerr and his North Kawartha Knights.
Note to Eagles Fans: There is no home game next week.