By Sam Laskaris
The Clarington Eagles scored early and often in the opening period of their game on Saturday.
After building up a 4-0 lead after 20 minutes of action, the Eagles coasted to a convincing 6-0 victory over the host North Kawartha Knights.
Eagles’ veteran forward Brent Lace opened the scoring just 29 seconds into the Provincial Junior Hockey League contest held at the North Kawartha Community Centre in Apsley.
With the victory the Eagles not only registered their first road W of the 2021-22 campaign but they also improved their record to 2-1. They also handed the Knights their first loss of the season as the North Kawartha squad had racked up three consecutive wins to start the year.
Clarington’s head coach Dean Baumhauer knew his charges might have had a bit of an edge entering Saturday’s contest.
“We caught them on the second night of a back-to-back,” he said of the Knights, who had doubled the host Uxbridge Bruins 6-3 on Friday. “We knew we needed to start strong. You’ve got to take advantage of opportunities like that. It’s going to happen to us as well.”
Rookie forwards Nathaniel Stirling, Owen Manarin and Maddox Smith all scored first-period goals for Clarington as well.
Baumhauer said the fact his squad built up a commanding lead allowed him to give some of his younger players some more ice time during the evening.
Up front Baumhauer was impressed with the efforts of Stirling and Jacob Cavers during their additional minutes of action. And on the back end Baumhauer, who doubles as the Eagles’ GM, was pleased to see rookies Owen McKinnon and Ty Harris fare well with some extra workload.
Baumhauer also had some praise for his son Nate, a defenceman with the squad who is an assistant captain. The younger Baumhauer was ejected late in the second period for his fight with North Kawartha forward Kieran Flynn, one of the toughest players in the league.
The bout occurred as Flynn was upset the Eagles’ blueliner had a tussle with his younger brother Marshall earlier in the period. Though he took a solid punch to the forehead Baumhauer held his own in the scrap.
The game continued to be a chippy affair after that.
“The boys were sticking up for each other,” said Eagles’ forward Joey Cole, who put the game out of reach by scoring once in the second period and then again in the third.
Cole felt it was important for the Eagles to come out hard in the game.
“You could tell they had tired legs,” he said, in reference to the fact North Kawartha was playing its second game in as many nights.
Meanwhile, Eagles’ puckstopper Alex Lepizzera started his third consecutive match between the pipes. And he earned his first shutout of the season, turning away all 28 shots he faced on the night.
The Eagles’ next contest will be this coming Thursday when they host the Lakefield Chiefs. The opening faceoff for the match, which will be staged at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex, is scheduled for 7:20 p.m.