Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by T. Schoonderbeek & C. Archer
The Clarington Eagles regained possession of first place in the Orr division Thursday evening in a hard-fought 4-2 victory over the Uxbridge Bruins at Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex.
Uxbridge has steadily climbed up the standings this season and had recently drawn even with the Eagles in the points column, though Clarington had played three fewer games. The win was Clarington’s fourth in four games against the Bruins this season.
The visitors would open the scoring early in the first period when a Bruins forward was able to get behind a pinching Clarington defenseman and was sent in alone on a breakaway. He made no mistake, lifting a perfectly placed backhand shot over goaltender Marc-Olivier Robert.
Nate Stirling would answer back for Clarington late in the period when he jammed in a rebound from Carter Watkins and Adam Klaas. It was a typical goal for the second-year Eagles forward, who has consistently shown a willingness to play in the difficult areas of the ice.
“Klaas did some hard work to dig the puck out in the corner and made an excellent pass to Watty (Watkins), who found me out front,” said Stirling. “It was good to be able to get the momentum back for our team.”
With the score tied at one in the second period, Brady Darrach took a drop pass from Dawson Manning as he entered the offensive zone on the powerplay and buried his ninth goal of the season from the top of the faceoff circle. The Eagles would not find themselves behind on the scoreboard again.
Early in the third, Darrach picked the puck up along the boards and snapped a shot from the hash marks that beat the Uxbridge netminder through the legs to extend the Eagles’ lead to 3-1.
But the Bruins were not discouraged. After some sustained pressure in the Clarington zone, Uxbridge narrowed the lead to 3-2 with eight minutes to play in the game. That’s as close as they would get.
With the Bruins net empty for an extra attacker, Darrach carried the puck into the offensive zone on a two-on-one. Rather than complete the hat trick, he dished the puck to Adam Klaas, who secured the victory with his tenth of the season.
“Brady did what he’s supposed to do tonight,” said head coach Dean Baumhauer. “It was a very unselfish play at the end to give it up when he could have had the hat trick. He’s a guy that we lean on offensively, but he’s also a guy we trust enough defensively to have on the ice in the last minute of a one-goal game.”
Baumhauer was also pleased with the performance of second-year defenseman Nolan Matheson. “I think Nolan has been trying to do a little too much over the past month with all the bodies out of the lineup,” said Dean. “His biggest strength is being a shutdown guy. Tonight, he kept it simple, played a ton, and was very effective.”
Dean stressed the importance of facing adversity throughout the season in preparation for the playoffs. “Uxbridge is a good, hard-working team, and they’ve got some high-end skill. It was a hard win. You have to have games like this during the season, or else we’re not going to be prepared come playoff time.”
The Eagles are back in action Saturday, December 3, when they travel to Little Britain to take on the Merchants. Game time is 7:30 p.m.