Eagles Advance to Schmalz Cup Final
Article by I. Schoonderbeek & N. Schoonderbeek/Media by C. Archer & N. Schoonderbeek
For the second consecutive season, the Clarington Eagles will play for the top prize in Junior C hockey in Ontario. The Eagles scored two third-period goals for a 2-1 victory over the Stayner Siskins in Schmalz Cup semi-final action in Woodstock Saturday evening to punch their ticket to the big game.
Clarington had their hands full in this one. For two periods, the Stayner defense kept the Eagles attack in check. The Siskins did an excellent job boxing out the Clarington offence and limiting scoring chances.
The game was scoreless until early in the second period. With the Siskins on the powerplay, the Eagles picked off a pass in their own zone and turned it into a three-on-one rush. Unfortunately for Clarington, the puck was turned over before they could get an attempt on goal. The turnover created an odd man rush the other way. Stayner capitalized on the opportunity to jump to a 1-0 lead.
With their season potentially down to its final period, the Eagles came out for the third with a purpose. Six minutes into the final frame, Brady Darrach found Dawson Manning with a breakout pass as he streaked down the right wing. Manning drew the Stayner defense towards him before dropping a pass to Mitch Davies who was trailing the play. Davies drove the net hard and showed the scoring touch that has made him one of the Eagles’ most dependable players this season to even the score at 1-1.
The Eagles continued to press, as momentum had clearly shifted in the game. With just over three minutes to play, Manning fed a pass to Jordan Shaw in the neutral zone. Shaw shifted to his left to avoid his check as he entered the Siskins zone before snapping a low shot on the fly which found the back of the net through the Stayner goaltender’s legs for the game-winner.
Marc-Olivier Robert was fantastic picking up the win in goal for the Clarington. He was called upon to make some huge saves to keep the Eagles hopes alive, including a one-timer from point-blank range shortly before the score was tied up in the third.
“Marc was simply outstanding tonight,” said head coach Dean Baumhauer.
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“Tonight was a good team effort,” continued Baumhauer. “It was a grind. Stayner played us really hard, as we knew they would. They have a lot of older guys over there who have a lot of pride, and they’re a well-coached team.”
What did Coach Baumhauer tell his players during the second intermission to result in that third-period magic? He told them that they just had to win one period to force overtime or a win. The team took this advice to heart. “In the third period we came out, we won it. We knew just had to win one period and we got it done,” said Captain Manning.
“Our first period we looked a little lethargic. We played a good second, but their goalie made some good saves,” said Dean. “In the third, Mitch Davies answered the bell. Shawzy has really stepped his game up over the past two months since the start of the playoffs. But it all starts with our captain. Manning gets the whole thing going. He set up Davies on our first goal and outlets to Shawzy on the game-winner.”
The Eagles don’t have much time to soak in the victory. The championship game takes place Sunday at 2:00 p.m. when they take on the Wellesley Applejacks. The Applejacks defeated the defending Champion Lakeshore Canadiens in overtime to advance to the final.
“We need one more win,” said Baumhauer. “We’re playing a good team tomorrow who beat us in the round-robin. I like that. Our guys will have something to prove, and they’ll be ready.”
Davies echoed his coach’s comments when asked about their opponent in Sunday’s final. “That loss in the round-robin just fuels the fire to be honest,” said Mitch. “We’re looking to come right back at them. We don’t lose to teams twice in a row. We’re going to bring our A-game tomorrow.”