By Sam Laskaris
The Clarington Eagles racked up yet another shutout on Sunday.
But this time it was rookie puckstopper Tyler Ryan who led the Eagles to a 3-0 victory over the host Port Perry MoJacks in a Provincial Junior Hockey League match staged at Scugog Arena.
Ryan turned aside all 18 shots he faced in the contest.
“It feels amazing for sure,” the 19-year-old Ryan said of his shutout, in his first junior hockey start.
Eagles’ veteran netminder Alex Lepizzera had registered back-to-back shutouts in Clarington’s previous two games.
Lepizzera had started the Eagles’ first four games this season. Ryan said he knew for about a week he’d be receiving the starting assignment versus the MoJacks.
He also said he wasn’t concerned that he was facing a Port Perry squad that was undoubtedly fired up following an emotional pre-game ceremony for Denny Martyn, who served 43 years as the MoJacks’ equipment manager. Martyn died in late September.
“I give my condolences to their family,” Ryan said. “But I was confident in my play. I’ve been playing hockey my whole life. And you just have to go out there and play hockey.”
Ryan added he was pleased to keep the team shutout streak going. Clarington has not been scored on now in more than 210 minutes.
“It’s huge,” Ryan said. “It just sends a message to the league that Alex and I are the best goalie duo in the league and we’re going to keep going.”
Eagles’ head coach Dean Baumhauer was obviously thrilled Ryan was able to fare well in his first junior start.
“Tyler prepared himself to play properly and he played a great game,” Baumhauer said. “It’s not easy with the lopsided shots (43-18) but he stopped everything at him.”
There was a brief moment, however, when Ryan admitted he wasn’t sure exactly what was happening.
As the MoJacks were preparing to go on a lengthy two-man advantage, the Port Perry squad took a timeout in the second period.
Once the timeout expired the MoJacks came out with six skaters, having pulled their goalie Sean Grey in favour of an even extra attacker and a 6-on-3 situation.
Ryan stopped about a half dozen shots, including a handful of decent scoring opportunities, during this segment.
“I definitely saw their goalie pulled and I was a little confused for sure,” Ryan said. “But at the end of the day it’s an odd-man advantage and they’re always going to have guys open. You just have to go out there and stop the puck.”
Though pleased with the two points, Baumhauer would have preferred to see his club’s recent offensive domination continue. The Eagles had scored 14 goals in their previous two outings.
But the Clarington bench boss didn’t feel his charges were firing on all cylinders for their rare Sunday night match.
“I think a lot of our guys were a little lethargic,” he said. “They were probably watching couch football all day. But we did enough to get the job done and get the two points on the road against a team that to me they didn’t really have much interest in playing hockey about halfway mark.”
One individual who did seem to have his share of energy was Eagles’ veteran forward Dawson Manning.
He opened the scoring in the opening frame with his first goal of the season.
“It felt great,” said Manning, who had numerous opportunities to score early on in this 2021-22 campaign. “It’s been two years.”
Manning was also happy to see Ryan earn the W in his first junior outing.
“He’s a great guy in the room,” Manning said. “He’s positive. He doesn’t mind how many starts he has. He’s always supporting Lepy and the boys. I love the guy. He’s a great guy to have on the team.”
The Eagles return to action this Thursday (Oct. 21) when they will host the Georgina Ice. This match, which will be held at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex, has an opening faceoff scheduled for 7:20 p.m.