Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by C. Archer
The Clarington Eagles extended their undefeated streak to eight games Saturday with a convincing 5-2 victory at the Ice Palace. The win ended Georgina’s 10-game win streak in the process.
The game marked Eagle goaltender Jude Rondina’s first game against his former club since being acquired by Clarington in early January. Rondina was solid between the pipes all night, stopping 23 of 25 shots including a second-period penalty shot. He earned his fourth win in as many starts with the Eagles.
Penalty Shot! pic.twitter.com/f3spILrilz
— Clarington Eagles (@EaglesPJHL) February 5, 2023
Clarington got on the board during a powerplay early in the contest. Ryan Hall scored on an assist from Brady Darrach, earning his sixth goal of the season.
They would extend the lead 13-minutes into the first period. Dawson Manning fed a perfect breakout pass to Kolby Poulin on the left wing creating a 2 on 1 opportunity. Poulin saucered the puck over to Darrach, who was able to walk in all alone on the Georgina goaltender before going top shelf for his 22nd goal of the season.
The second period brought more dominance from the Eagles, who ended up outshooting the Ice 55-25 in the contest.
Then just past the seven-minute mark, Mitch Davies banged home a rebound off a scramble in front of the Georgina goal for his 15th goal of the campaign.
Darrach scored his second goal and fourth point of the evening early in the third period. He entered the Ice zone down the right wing after taking a breakout pass from Hall on the powerplay and snapped a hard shot that fooled the Georgina goalkeeper to the far side of the goal.
Georgina would answer back just 40 seconds later, taking advantage of an Eagles defensive zone turnover to spoil Rondina’s shutout bid. The Ice would add another on a screened shot late in the period, but Clarington had the game well under control for most of the period.
“Tonight was a statement game,” said head coach Dean Baumhauer. “They’ve been the best team going recently, putting together a 10-game win streak that included one against us. We’ve been playing a lot of teams at the bottom of the standings, so the pace and compete level had to be way better today.”
Rondina was obviously extra-motivated for this one ahead of the contest. “The nerves were there for sure before the game,’ said Jude. “I’ve played with these guys for two years and we’ve been a close squad. Leaving them was a big change for me. The boys played so well in front of me right from the start tonight and kept things easy for me. They [the Ice] had one high opportunity on me in the first that I was able to stop and that was it. I felt like that got me into the game, and the boys ran with it from there. I guess I just know these guys well.”
“Jude played a great game against his old team,” said Baumhauer. “He was involved in their win streak when he played with them, and now he’s the guy that ended it.”
“When you play good teams, your best players need to be your best players,” Dean continued. “Manning, Poulin, and Darrach led the way on offence again. Williamson and Hall were great on the back end and our depth guys were good. They managed the puck well, got pucks in deep and we had great compete levels from most guys tonight.”
Another Eagles milestone was reached by overage defenseman Carter Watkins, who skated in his 100th regular season PJHL game. “I got a text from my buddy (former Eagle) Joey Cole a few years ago to come out to some summer evaluation skates,” said Watkins. “Dean took a chance on me, and it’s been a great three years since.”
“100 games as an Eagle is impressive. I’ve tried to trade him countless times…no one will take him!” joked assistant GM and head trainer Craig Wilcox. “Huge accomplishment for him. It’s great to see a kid like Watty hit that milestone.”
The win sees the Eagles comfortably nested five points ahead of second-place Uxbridge in the Orr division standings with two games in hand. They’ll face the Bruins Friday evening.
Before then, Eagles fans can catch the boys in action this Thursday at Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex when they take on the North Kawartha Knights at 7:25 p.m.