Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by C. Archer
The Clarington Eagles know they have targets on their backs.
The Junior ‘C’ club has maintained a tight grasp on the top spot in the Orr Division standings since the season began. But with each passing week, their opponents have pushed a little harder, forcing the team to earn each valuable point.
The past week’s home and home series against the rival Uxbridge Bruins provided a perfect example of what the Eagles can expect to face through the remainder of the regular season.
The Eagles traveled to Uxbridge last Friday, dropping a 6-4 decision to the third place Bruins. The loss was only the second of the campaign for Clarington, both coming at the hands of their North Durham rivals.
“They had lost six of seven going into Friday’s game, and they played desperate,” said head coach Dean Baumhauer. “We just didn’t match their desperation.”
Six days later, the Eagles were looking to return the favour in their own barn. Unfortunately for the home side, the Bruins had other plans in mind. Uxbridge got up front early Thursday night at Rickard Arena, and at one point had amassed a 6-2 lead before holding on for a 6-5 victory.
“After an effort like we gave last week, we’re looking for a strong response from ou room,” said Baumhauer. “We didn’t get it tonight. We’ve got some guys right now whose games just aren’t at the level they need to be. We were undisciplined, had a lot of turnovers and took a lot of dumb penalties. Our guys are eating a little humble pie right now, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion.”
While not pleased with the overall effort from his club, Baumhauer still had some positives to glean from the contest. “We could have easily folded at 6-2,” said Dean. “We came back and got it to 6-5 and gave ourselves a chance. No championship has ever been won in November.”
Baumhauer also pointed out the strong efforts of big winger Jordan Shaw and rookie Brock Mathieson who each contributed three points in the losing effort.
Mathieson has proven himself capable of adapting to the junior game, gradually shedding himself of some of the habits that players get away with in minor hockey. “I feel like things are starting to click,” said Brock. “I’m getting used to playing against the bigger guys instead of being the bigger boy myself out there. I’ve gotten used to our system, which is a lot different than I was used to playing. The standards are a lot higher here. Dean expects 100% effort. If you don’t give it, you’re held accountable. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a rookie, a third-year guy wearing a letter, or a top point scorer. It’s all about effort on this club.”
Despite the losses, the Eagles remain four points ahead of Georgina for first place in the Orr Division standings.
The Eagles will be looking to right the ship when they get back on the bus this Saturday to visit the Little Britain Merchants. Game time for fans making the trip is 7:30 p.m.
Note: Big shout out to all the fans in attendance for their a cappella rendition of ‘Oh Canada prior to the game Thursday night!