Article by Sam Laskaris/Photos by Chris Archer
It wasn’t the start the Clarington Eagles were looking for in their provincial Final Four tournament.
The Eagles were blanked 3-0 on Saturday afternoon by the host Stayner Siskins in their first round-robin match of the 2022 Schmalz Cup tournament.
This marks the first year the Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL) is staging a Final Four tournament instead of best-of-seven series for its four conference champions.
The Grimsby Peach Kings and Lakeshore Canadiens are also participating in the tourney.
Squads will play three round-robin games each. And then, regardless of the outcomes in those matches, all four entrants will advance to the semi-final round next Saturday (May 14) in Guelph.
Clubs will be seeded, first through fourth, based on their round-robin results.
The two semi-final winners will then square off for the PJHL title the next day (May 15), also in Guelph.
“We didn’t have much,” Baumhauer said of the Eagles, who outshot the Stayner side 24-23.
“It was a pretty dull game, nothing much going on.”
Baumhauer said it was difficult to gauge the talent of the Siskins, the PJHL North Conference champions.
“It’s hard to tell if they were any good,” he said. “We were so bad. We didn’t work hard enough to generate anything. We didn’t have any line going.”
Plus, there’s a chance the Eagles will be without two key regulars for their next game.
Clarington’s rookie forward Mitch Davies left Saturday’s match early with a possible broken nose. The Eagles, however, will definitely be without forward Brady Darrach, who will be suspended for one game for a hit-from-behind penalty in Saturday’s third period.
The opening faceoff for the match, which will be held at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex, is set for 3:25 p.m.
“We’ll have to fight hard to get a win (Sunday),” Baumhauer said.
Despite the fact they did not bring their A-game to Stayner, the Eagles still entered the final period with a chance to pull out a victory.
Clarington trailed 1-0 heading into the final 20 minutes. And the Eagles had a bit of momentum, having outshot the Siskins 12-6 in the middle frame.
Stayner, however, increased its lead to 2-0 with a goal in the eighth minute of the final period. And the Siskins added an empty-net goal with less than two minutes remaining.
Baumhauer realizes his charges will have to be at their best next weekend, when the single-game semi-finals and finals are contested.
“I’m just treating these three round-robin games as a scouting trip,” he added.