Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by C. Archer & N. Schoonderbeek
The Little Britain Merchants continue to be a thorn in the Clarington Eagles’ side this season. The Merchants handed the Eagles their second loss of the 2022-23 campaign, defeating the visitors 5-4 Saturday at Little Britain Arena.
The Merchants have earned two victories and a tie in the four meetings between the two clubs so far. They are the only team in the Orr Division to hand the Eagles a tally in the loss column.
Little Britain evened the score at one a few minutes later on a tipped shot of their own that found the net over the blocker of Marc-Olivier Robert.
Clarington would answer right back after a Little Britain player delivered a check from behind to defenseman Nolan Matheson. Connor Davies buried a rebound on the resulting Eagles powerplay for his third goal of the year, assisted by Watkins and Dale Junkin.
The Merchants would tie the game back up at two on the powerplay before the end of the first period when a rebound off the post bounced into the slot onto the stick of an open Merchants player, who made no mistake depositing the puck into the Clarington goal.
Things did not go the Eagles way in the second period. Little Britain took advantage of a careless pass to the point on an Eagles powerplay, resulting in a shorthanded breakaway goal that gave them the lead for the first time in the game.
The Merchants would score again before the period was over to carry a 4-2 lead into the third.
Whatever the coaching staff had to say to the team during the break seemed to provide a spark for the Eagles in the third. Darrach snapped home a rebound off a Mitch Davies shot for his eleventh goal of the season to cut the Merchants’ lead to 4-3.
Darrach opens scoring in the third period on an assist from Mitch Davies:
However, the Merchants would restore the two-goal advantage on the powerplay with five minutes to play after the Eagles took a goaltender interference penalty.
Call-up Allan Watt, who played a solid game on the blueline for the Eagles, scored his first Junior goal to get them back within one with four minutes to play.
Despite several good scoring opportunities in the final minutes, Clarington was unable to find the back of the net to force overtime.
“You’re not winning many games when you give up five goals,” said head coach Dean Baumhauer. “This team plays their best hockey against us. I’m not so much upset about the loss. I’m more upset about the mental errors. We’re making too many costly mistakes.”
Baumhauer pointed to special teams play as a key factor in the outcome. “They got two on the powerplay and they scored a shorty,” said Dean. “That was the hockey game.”
Assistant coach Jamie Showers echoed Baumhauer’s comments. “We’re not going to win every game,” said Showers. “We outplayed them significantly in the first period and had a good third, but we lost our way in between a little bit and made some silly mistakes. At the end of the day, we beat ourselves as opposed to them beating us. We probably need a result like this to learn from as a group at this point in the season.”
With the loss, the Eagles find themselves once again tied for first place in the Orr Division with the Uxbridge Bruins, who defeated Georgina Friday evening. Clarington has played three fewer games on the year.
A reminder for Eagles fans, there is no home game on Thursday this week. The team travels to Georgina Friday, December 9 to take on the Ice at 7:30 p.m. The next Eagles home game is Sunday, December 11 at 7:25 p.m. when they host the Lakefield Chiefs.