Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by C. Archer
The Clarington Eagles are now up two games to zero in their Orr Division final series against the Uxbridge Bruins. The Eagles defeated their hosts 5-2 Friday night in front of 635 fans at the Uxbridge Arena and Recreation Centre.
While the score ended up the same, the contest played out much differently than in game one of the series. The Eagles found themselves facing a much harder pushback from the Bruins in game two.
Like game one, Uxbridge got on the scoreboard first. With the Eagles scrambling in their own end, a Bruins point shot through a screen was tipped past starter Marc-Olivier Robert.
Kolby Poulin got Clarington back even on the powerplay on a nice tip-in of his own on a Cole Williamson point shot.
Connor Davies gave the Eagles the lead late in the first period on another deflected Williamson drive. Davies now has 10 goals in as many playoff games to lead the team in scoring. In fact, Connor has been so hot recently he has twice the number of goals as his next closest teammate, his brother Mitch.
Uxbridge tied the game back up early in the second period on the powerplay. Unfortunately for the Eagles, a rebound from a blocked shot ended up on the stick of Bruins leading scorer Quinn Meek in the slot. Meek made no mistake quickly snapping the puck past Robert.
Jordan Shaw deflected in a Ryan Hall point shot late in the second to restore the Clarington lead. The goal, Shaw’s first of the playoffs, held up as the eventual game winner.
Sniper Brady Darrach added an insurance marker early in the third period. The big forward curled in from the left wing, then used a Bruins defender as a screen before ripping a laser off the post and in with a perfectly placed shot.
Leyton Aitken would add a late an empty net goal for the Eagles.
The Eagles have been finding success on the powerplay so far in the series, scoring three times with the man-advantage Friday. Williamson’s play on the powerplay has been a large contributing factor in Clarington’s special teams productivity. The defenseman has a goal and three assists, all on the powerplay, through games one and two.
“The coaches have been on me to keep the puck low. I decided to change it up with my stick tape job, and it’s been working. So just a little magical luck I think,” said Williamson with a grin.
Williamson and his defense partner Jake Dupuis, former minor hockey teammates, spent last season playing at the Junior ‘A’ level. “There’s really no change in the pace of play from Junior A,” said Williamson. “The PJHL is still a tough league to play in.”
Dupuis agreed with his partner’s assessment. “For young players coming out of U16 and U18, Junior C hockey still offers plenty of opportunity for development. It’s very competitive hockey and you’re playing against older more experienced competition.”
Head coach Dean Baumhauer was satisfied with the victory, while acknowledging it was far from a perfect effort. “It was pretty ugly to watch…sloppy at times,” said Dean. “I thought Uxbridge outworked us for most of the first period. We weren’t winning many puck battles. But our powerplay got us back into the game. The biggest thing for me is going into the third we were up 3-2 and we don’t allow another goal. Frenchie played well. When we only allow two goals, we should win the hockey game.”
The Eagles now have a day off before the series picks back up on Sunday. “I think Uxbridge is going to come back with another big push Sunday,” said Baumhauer. “It’s going to be important to manage our holiday weekend and balance how many turkey dinners we eat!”
Game three on Sunday is a 3:25 p.m. matinee at Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex. Get the kids all “hopped up” on chocolate Easter eggs and bring them out to the rink to make some noise for your hometown Eagles!