Eagles Drop Game 3 of Conference Final Versus Napanee Raiders

Article By Sam Laskaris/Photos by Chris Archer & N. Schoonderbeek

The Clarington Eagles squandered an opportunity to take a commanding lead in their conference final on Sunday.

The Eagles found themselves enjoying a 2-1 advantage over the Napanee Raiders with less than five minutes remaining in their Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL) contest held at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex.

The Raiders, however, scored a pair of late powerplay goals, 18 seconds apart, and then added an empty-net goal to earn a 4-2 victory.

Despite the loss the Eagles continue to lead the PJHL’s East Conference best-of-seven championship series 2-1.

“We played a full 60 in Game 1 and we haven’t since,” said Eagles’ head coach Dean Baumhauer said.

Baumhauer was less than thrilled his charges blew a chance to take a 3-0 series lead in front of a large home crowd.

“We were awful in the first period and bad in the third,” Baumhauer said.

The Raiders opened the scoring by netting their first of three powerplay goals of the night just before the midway mark of the opening frame.

“We started off chasing the puck after every faceoff,” Baumhauer said. “We have to be better in the faceoff circle. We just don’t have anybody winning draws with any consistency.”

The Eagles though were able to score the only two goals of the second period to take a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.

Nate Stirling and Leyton Aitken were the two Clarington goal scorers.

As it turned out, however, the Eagles were not able to hold onto their lead in the penalty-filled contest.

Both squads were assessed 15 infractions each during the match. Napanee was hit with 46 penalty minutes while the Eagles had 54 minutes in calls.

“A lot of guys played undisciplined and that just hasn’t been the way we’ve had success this year,” Baumhauer said. “We have to be much better. We have to regroup and be ready to go.”

The series will resume with Game 4 in Napanee on Tuesday. That game, which will be held at the Strathcona Paper Centre, has an opening faceoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The Eagles will then host Game 5 on Thursday. Puck drop for that one is set for 7:20 p.m.

Clarington overage forward Brent Lace realizes his team will find it challenging to have success without determined efforts throughout the game.

“We did not play hard for the full 60 minutes like our previous two games,” he said of the Eagles’ performance on Sunday. “Going into Game 4 it is important that as a team we play strong for the whole game.”

Lace added the Eagles also have to take advantage of certain situations.

“The special teams were another struggle for us tonight,” he said. “Napanee capitalized when it mattered and we did not.”

Lace added it’s vital the Eagles put Game 3 in their rear-view mirrors and concentrate on their next challenge.

“As a team we must focus on the next game getting back to playing hard for 60 minutes,” he said.