Article By Sam Laskaris / Photos by Chris Archer
The Clarington Eagles find themselves just where they want to be.
That’s would be first place in the Orr Division standings of the Provincial Junior Hockey League.
But it remains to be seen if the Eagles will still be there on Friday night. Or more importantly Saturday night. Or possibly even Sunday afternoon.
Clarington took over the top spot in the divisional standings thanks to a 5-3 victory over the visiting North Kawartha Knights in a Thursday match staged at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex.
Though he didn’t score, in what was the Eagles’ final regular season home match of the 2021-22 campaign, Clarington veteran Dawson Manning had a game-high three points, all assists.
With the win, the Eagles improved their mark to 23-6-0-2. With its 48 points, Clarington is a single point ahead of the Little Britain Merchants, who have a 23-6-0-1 record.
Clarington has just one regular season game left, Sunday in Port Perry. The Merchants though have two contests remaining, Friday night in Uxbridge and in Aspley on Saturday evening versus North Kawartha.
Eagles’ forward Joey Cole said his teammates are pleased they were able to help their own cause and register a W on Thursday.
“Now we just have to wait and see what Little Britain does,” he said. “It’s a little easier knowing they might have to win both of their games to finish first.”
Brady Darrach, who netted a pair of goals for the Eagles on Thursday, believes his side is showing plenty of signs that it will be ready for the post-season.
“We try to treat every game like a playoff game,” he said following the club’s latest victory. “But this one a little bit more because first place is still on the line.”
Darrach believes many of his teammates will be keeping close tabs on how the Merchants are faring on Friday and Saturday.
“We’ll definitely keep an eye out on that,” he said.
As for Thursday’s match, the teams were deadlocked at 1-1 following 20 minutes of action.
“The first period was pretty wild,” Cole said. “There was a whole bunch of penalties. It was tough to get things going.”
Darrach echoed the sentiment of it being challenging to garner any sort of momentum in the opening period.
“We had a lot of stoppages,” he said. “And we were sitting around a lot on the bench.”
The Eagles also lost rookie forward Mitch Davies early in the match after he appeared to hit his head via a boarding call.
After falling behind 2-1 early in the second period, Clarington started to take control of the contest, scoring three unanswered goals before the second intermission.
The Eagles then extended their lead to 5-2 with another goal early in the final frame.
“I think the last couple of games here we’ve been playing like playoff hockey with playoff intensity,” Cole said of his team’s recent efforts. “And I think we’ll be ready for the playoffs.”
It remains to be seen who the Eagles will face in the opening round of the post-season, which is expected to begin during the middle of this coming week.
Prior to that though, members of the Clarington side will be waiting around the next couple of days to see just how important their regular season finale will be.
If the Merchants were to lose one of their next two contests, the Eagles could secure top spot with a win in Port Perry on Sunday.
That match, which will be staged at Scugog Arena, has an opening faceoff set for 2:25 p.m.
Additional Photos by Chris Archer: