By Sam Laskaris
The Clarington Eagles keep finding new ways to win.
Despite the fact they were missing a handful of key regulars, the Eagles managed to down the host Lakefield Chiefs 5-4 in overtime in a Provincial Junior Hockey League contest on Tuesday.
With the victory, Clarington extended its winning streak to eight games. More importantly, the Eagles, who are now sporting a record of 8-1, took over sole possession of first place in the league’s seven-squad Orr Division.
With the OT setback, Lakefield now has a mark of 4-3-2, good for fourth place in the Orr standings.
Clarington veteran forward Brent Lace was the OT hero, scoring at the 2:09 mark of the extra session of the match staged at the Lakefield-Smith Community Centre.
The Eagles, however, were undoubtedly not happy the game required OT to decide a winner. That’s because the Clarington squad enjoyed a 4-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes of action.
Lakefield got onto the scoreboard with a goal midway through the second period. And the Chiefs scored the only three goals of the third stanza to tie the match.
“We don’t have that killer instinct,” said Eagles’ head coach Dean Baumhauer who was disappointed his charges squandered a four-goal advantage.
The younger Baumhauer, McCullough and Cole all missed the match because of work commitments. Bell was out as he was sick while Davies is serving a suspension, incurred during last Friday’s road contest against the Georgina Ice.
“Both of them worked really hard and got a regular shift,” Baumhauer said.
Stringer also earned a first-period assist, on one of the two goals rookie blueliner Ethan Schoonderbeek scored in the opening frame.
Despite playing on the road without some key players, Schoonderbeek said the Eagles were not questioning whether the club’s winning streak might come to an end Tuesday.
“I think we have a lot of depth on our team and we weren’t thinking that at all,” he said.
Like the rest of his teammates, the Eagles’ rookie blueliner, who goes by the nickname Scooby, was not thrilled the Chiefs were able to overcome a huge deficit and earn a point on the night.
“I think we just let our guard down a little bit,” he said.
Schoonderbeek added he’s somewhat surprised at his goal production thus far. He now has three goals after his first nine matches with the Clarington club.
“I’m not used to scoring this much,” he said, adding a two-goal night is a rarity for him. “It’s been years (since I did that). I can’t even remember the last time.”
Though Lace netted the game-winning goal, Eagles’ forward Jake Lemere also deserves a good chunk of credit on the play. Lemere came into the Chiefs’ zone and not only managed to drag two defenders towards him but also had Lakefield goalie Caleb Lenkorn believing he just might shoot himself.
Instead, Lemere passed off to Lace who was unattended, just to the left of the slot. Lace buried his shot into an empty net for the win.
Lace said his teammates obviously discuss the club’s impressive early-season winning streak but it is not a focus in the dressing room.
“We just go in every game and try to win it,” he said. “It was good to keep it going.”
Baumhauer was happy to see Lace, a fourth-year league veteran, provide the winner.
“I thought he needed that to be honest,” Baumhauer said of Lace, who has been somewhat snake bitten this season but now has three goals on the year.
Since he’s one of the Eagles’ top offensive guns, Lace probably would have started the 3-on-3 OT session. But he was on the bench trying to catch his breath.
Baumhauer credited one of his assistant coaches, Dave Fairey, for suggesting it was time to get Lace onto the ice during the club’s third shift of overtime.
Besides Lace’s OT marker and Schoonderbeek’s pair, the Eagles’ other scorers on the night were Lemere and Leyton Aitken.
The Eagles return to action on Thursday with a home contest against the North Kawartha Knights.
Game time is 7:20 p.m. at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex.
Additional game photos by Chris Archer: