Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by N. Schoonderbeek, T. Schoonderbeek & Chris Archer
After coming out on the winning end of a 5-4 shootout Friday in Georgina, the Clarington Eagles’ home game against the Lakefield Chiefs Sunday night ended up being a goaltending duel.
The Eagles defeated the Chiefs 3-1 in a game that saw outstanding performances between the pipes for both clubs.
The Chiefs would tie the score up at one on the powerplay after an interference penalty by Eagles’ captain Dawson Manning.
The Eagles dominated play in the second period with sustained pressure in the Lakefield zone. Clarington had two early powerplay opportunities but was unable to beat Chiefs’ goaltender Sean Grey. The Bowmanville native made several great saves and was aided by two Eagles shots that rang off posts.
Clarington was finally able to beat Grey on their third powerplay of the period. Darrach entered the offensive zone with speed while the Lakefield defenders attempted to keep him to the outside of the ice. Darrach circled behind the Chiefs’ net and attempted a wraparound which Grey was able to stop. The rebound ended up on the blade of Manning’s stick in front of the net for his ninth goal of the season.
The Eagles’ one-goal lead would stand until the final minute of the game. Both teams had good chances turned away by the two goaltenders.
With under a minute to play, the Chiefs pressed for an equalizer. With their goalie pulled for an extra attacker, defenseman Nolan Matheson came up with a huge shot block in front of the Clarington net. The Eagles recovered the puck and Poulin secured the victory with an empty net goal, assisted by Ryan Hall and Mitch Davies.
Marc-Olivier Robert picked up his ninth win of the season. The young puck stopper had plenty of support in the stands. A busload of his friends from Trinity College School made the trip down the 401 from Port Hope to support their classmate. They came with Fleur-de-lis flags (Robert is from St. Hubert, Quebec) and were boisterous in their support of their friend and his teammates. The “Marco fan crew” was quick to point out that they were cheering on the entire team, not just Robert.
“They’re a great group of guys,” Robert said with a smile.
Robert, who is known affectionately as “Frenchie” to his coaches and teammates, is enjoying his stint with the Eagles thus far. “It’s always great to join a winning team,” said Marc. “I didn’t know anyone here, and the guys have been great. They made me feel part of the team right away.”
Robert has quickly become one of the fan favourites at Rickard, with young kids lined up to receive fist bumps and requesting autographs each week.
Clarington had a big hole to fill in the net with the departure of 2021-22 PJHL Player of the Year Alex Lepizzera, but the young goaltending duo of Robert and Carter Watson has done an admirable job so far.
With Watson out due to injury for six weeks, Robert has shouldered the goaltending load for 11 straight games. When asked if he felt any additional pressure being the go-to guy in net recently, he confidently responded “No. I’m here to play games. I want to be on the ice.”
The Eagles will need to bring the intensity this Thursday, December 15, when they host the Port Perry Lumberjacks at Rickard Arena. Puck drop is 7:25 p.m.
Thank you to all Eagles fans who contributed to the Bethesda House fundraiser! Congrats to the grand prize winner, Andrew Hall, who took home a Yeti cooler filled with $750 of holiday cheer. Ron Hooper and Jenn Gillam went home with second and third place prizes. Over $6000 was raised for women in need in our community.