Article By Sam Laskaris/Photos by Chris Archer
Three down, one to go.
The Clarington Eagles now find themselves just one win away from advancing to their divisional final thanks to an emphatic 7-2 victory over the visiting North Kawartha Knights on Sunday.
Thanks to their latest triumph, which occurred at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex, the Eagles now lead their best-of-seven Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL) Orr Division semi-final series 3-1.
Clarington can wrap up the series and qualify for the division final with a Game 5 win on Tuesday. The Eagles will host that match, which has a 7:50 p.m. puck drop.
“It was a good response after losing Saturday,” Eagles’ head coach Dean Baumhauer said, in reference to his club’s 3-2 road setback one night earlier.
Baumhauer added he wasn’t overly upset with Saturday’s loss as it provided his charges with a bit of adversity, something they hadn’t faced this post-season since they had racked up six consecutive wins.
The Eagles were obviously revved up for Sunday’s contest. Mitch Davies got the ball rolling by scoring just 59 seconds into the game, the first of four Clarington goals in the first period.
“We got the start we needed,” Baumhauer said.
The Eagles increased their lead to 7-0 heading into the second intermission. The Knights scored the only two goals in the final 20 minutes.
Baumhauer added his club’s cause was assisted by the fact some key players who were unavailable for duty on Saturday, notably defenceman Carter Watkins (sick) and Davies (charley horse), returned to action.
“We had our guys back,” Baumhauer said. “We’re good when we have our guys and we can roll four lines.”
Clarington veteran forward Dawson Manning had an impressive outing, earning five points, including a natural hat trick.
“We were just buzzing out there and everyone was good,” Manning said of his teammates’ performances.
Manning scored a powerplay goal late in the first period, had another goal while his squad was enjoying a man advantage in the middle frame and then added an even-strength marker, also in the second period.
One thing Manning is certain of, however, is that his squad will finish off the series with the Knights on Tuesday.
“100 per cent,” said Manning, who has a whopping 20 points (seven goals and 13 assists) in eight playoff games. “We’re going to close it out at home for the fans.”
Forward Brady Darrach, who was credited with three assists on Sunday, is also confident the Eagles will be fully prepared for Game 5.
“I think it will be the same as today,” he said. “All the guys want an extra day off and to have a couple of practices (before the divisional final).”
Darrach will also be hoping for another large crowd as was the case on Sunday.
“The crowd was pretty electric, especially in the first period,” he said. “After a goal the crowd goes nuts. It’s a big plus. It’s definitely a big advantage having home-ice advantage.”
Additional Photos by Chris Archer: