Article By Sam Laskaris/Photos by Chris Archer & N. Schoonderbeek
It took the Clarington Eagles almost six full periods to score a goal in this year’s Schmalz Cup tournament.
The Eagles managed to score with just 15 seconds remaining in the third period of Sunday’s home contest against the Grimsby Peach Kings.
The Clarington squad then managed to net the game-winner in the 11th minute of overtime to earn a 2-1 triumph over the Peach Kings.
The contest, which was held at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex, was the second of three round-robin matches for both teams in this year’s Schmalz Cup, the season-ending Final Four tournament for the Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL).
The Eagles were blanked 3-0 in their tournament opener on Saturday by the host Stayner Siskins.
Clarington will conclude its round-robin segment on Thursday with a match against the Lakeshore Canadiens. That contest, which will be held at Guelph’s Gryphon Centre, has an opening faceoff set for 5 p.m.
All four Schmalz Cup participants will then advance to the tournament’s semi-final round, next Saturday (May 14) in Guelph. The two semi winners will then square off in the PJHL championship final, also in Guelph, next Sunday (May 15).
Eagles’ overage forward Brent Lace was the OT hero on Sunday, scoring at the 10:39 mark of the extra session.
Lace was sent in on a 2-on-1 after receiving a pass from Clarington captain Mitch Doyle.
“I had a couple similar attempts in overtime and I just ripped it again low blocker,” Lace said.
(captures of overtime goal by Brent Lace)
Though the Eagles realize they will still move on to next Saturday’s semi-finals regardless of their round-robin results, Lace was obviously pleased to see his squad earn the W on Sunday.
“It’s nice to get a win in the tournament and keep on building off that,” he said. “You don’t want to go into Saturday 0-3.”
Though they haven’t played overly well thus far, Lace believes the Eagles just might have what it takes to capture the Schmalz Cup.
“I’m pretty confident in our ability to win,” he said. “It’s just a matter of bringing a full 60-minute effort and competing hard the whole game.”
Veteran Clarington forward Dawson Manning was credited with getting the Eagles into the overtime session.
Rookie blueliner Ethan Schoonderbeek directed a shot at the Peach Kings’ net in the dying seconds of the third period.
Though he was unsure exactly what transpired, Manning managed to deflect the shot into the back of the Grimsby net.
“I think it hit either the back of my leg or my stick,” Manning said. “I couldn’t tell if it was mine or (Schoonderbeek’s). But either way it was a great shot to get through.”
Though the Eagles had been held off the scoresheet until that point, Manning felt the late goal would inspire his teammates.
“I think we all felt we were carrying the momentum going into overtime,” he said. “And it showed. We were all over them in overtime. We should have ended it earlier.”
Clarington outshot Grimsby 17-2 in the OT. And the Eagles held a convincing 66-30 shot advantage in the match.
Clarington’s head coach Dean Baumhauer also had an inkling his charges would prevail in OT.
“I thought when we scored that late goal we rode that momentum,” he said. “When you get scored on that late you’re frustrated down there and the momentum swung. And I thought from the start of overtime until the end there was no way we weren’t going to win. We had all the looks.”
Baumhauer was also pleased to see the Eagles register a victory in their final home game of their 2021-22 season.
(captures of Eagles celebrating their W during final home game of the season)
Clarington’s bench boss was also thrilled to see the team’s four graduating players share the Player of the Game award.
“All four had real good games,” said the elder Baumhauer.