Story by Sam Laskaris / Photos by Chris Archer
A little bit of recent arm twisting from some family members is paying off for the Clarington Eagles.
That’s because Brady Darrach, who was acquired in a trade last week, had another strong offensive performance for the Clarington squad on Thursday.
Darrach scored twice and added an assist as the Eagles downed the visiting Uxbridge Bruins 5-2 in a Provincial Junior Hockey League contest held at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex.
Darrach, who started the season at the Junior A level with the Wellington Dukes in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL), also scored a goal and added an assist in his Eagles’ debut, a 10-1 triumph over the Georgina Ice on Dec. 2.
After Thursday’s triumph, Darrach, who was finding it increasingly challenging to get ice time with the Dukes, said he didn’t mind dropping down to the Junior C level to join the Eagles. That’s because his first cousins Connor and Mitch Davies are also members of the Clarington squad.
“That was mostly the reason why I came here,” he said, adding the Davies brothers were indeed among those who were persuasive and convinced him to join the Eagles. “I thought it would be quite a lot of fun so it’s been good.”
Darrach, who turned 18 on Nov. 28, mere days before his rights were acquired by the Eagles, was originally pleased he had cracked the Dukes’ roster this season.
But his ice time had diminished in the days leading up to his trade.
“We had a bunch of older guys come into the team to try and make it better and I just fell down the pecking order so to say and I ended up here,” he said. “I’m glad to be here and I love it so far.”
Darrach has been a welcome addition to the Eagles. The Clarington club had been on its longest losing streak of the season just before he joined the squad a week ago.
“I think we’re starting to get into a groove here after three losses,” Darrach said Thursday, after the Eagles’ second straight victory. “I’m just happy to get the win with the boys.”
Darrach opened the scoring against the Bruins off a breakaway in the first period. Then early on in the third period he earned an assist on a goal scored by his eldest cousin on the team, Connor Davies.
Darrach was credited with his third point when he added an empty-net goal with 49 seconds remaining in the contest.
“The last two games have been a pretty good bounce back for the team,” said rookie forward Leyton Aitken. “The chemistry has been pretty good.”
Like all others in the organization, Aitken, who has played a couple of OJHL games during the 2021-22 campaign as an affiliate player with Wellington, was pleased to see Darrach join the Eagles.
“We picked up Brady there and he’s been a huge gain for this team,” he said.
“T-Ry has been the backbone of our team lately,” Aitken said. “He’s been standing on his head to get us some of these wins.”
Aitken felt his teammates entered Thursday’s game perhaps a bit too cocky since they were coming off a lopsided victory.
“I think our heads coming into the door were a little bit too big for this game, thinking we would have come in and smoked them after coming out of a 10-1 game,” he said. “But the guys dialed it in early in the game and we came out with a big W.”
Lepizzera has now served his suspension and is eligible to suit up for the Eagles again. The club is also hoping for a return soon of its captain, defenceman Mitch Doyle who has been battling a shoulder injury.
“By the time they come back, we’re going to be as tight as we can be and we’re going to be a really big playoff contender this year,” Aitken said.
The Eagles’ next contest is this coming Tuesday, Dec. 14, on the road against the Lakefield Chiefs. The opening faceoff at Lakefield-Smith Community Centre is set for 7:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, Clarington’s next home game is Dec. 14. The North Kawartha Knights will provide the opposition for the match, scheduled to start at 7:20 p.m.