Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by C. Archer
The Clarington Eagles continued to prove they are a force to be reckoned with Sunday afternoon in Port Perry. Not only on the scoreboard, but when push came to shove on the ice as well. The Eagles soared to a 7-2 victory over the Lumberjacks. They also proved to be up to task of responding when Port Perry ratcheted up the physical play in an attempt to get back in the game.
Clarington opened the scoring 8:49 into the first period on the powerplay. Trevor Urquhart found Kyle Shepherd who had snuck in from the point for a back door tap in. The marker, his 13th of the season, was Shepherd’s fourth goal in the last three games.
The Eagles made it 2-0 at 15:52 of the first when Kyle Smith found Urquhart racing down the left wing with a cross ice pass. Urquhart fired a hard shot along the ice from inside the faceoff circle that fooled the goalkeeper.
Clarington made it 3-0 just 35 seconds into the second period when Smith snapped a puck in off an offensive zone faceoff win.
The Eagles appeared to have the game well in hand, but Port Perry was given a glimpse of hope. Just 31 seconds after the Smith marker, a Lumberjacks rebound bounced off Eagles defender Shepherd behind starter Oliver Webster to narrow the gap to 3-1.
However, any hope of a Lumberjacks comeback was snuffed out at 5:46 of the second. Mitch Davies sent winger Jordan Shaw in alone. Shaw missed the goal on the play, but trailer Kolby Poulin skillfully pulled the rebound off the end boards from below the goal line before snapping the puck into the net left open by the overcommitted goalkeeper.
Play began to get chippy as the second period progressed. Things came to a boil at 14:19 of the period when Eagles rookie Kayden Hambly and Lumberjacks veteran Jacob Sharpe squared off at centre ice. If word has not yet gotten around the league to not tangle with the rugged Clarington blueliner, it soon will…
Urquhart put the game completely out of reach at 14:50. The talented centre picked off a pass attempt with the Eagles shorthanded, creating a long breakaway. He scored on a forehand deke for his 22nd goal of the season.
Trade deadline acquisition Liam O’Dette, who was making his Eagles debut, scored on a deflection before the period was finished to spot Clarington a 6-1 lead heading into the third.
The teams traded goals in the third period, with Hayes Bell finding the back of the net for the Eagles.
“That was one of our more complete games in a while,” said head coach Dean Baumhauer. “Port Perry has been playing some good hockey lately, so I was a little concerned coming in here and playing an afternoon game, which we’re not used to. Last week we had a couple fights and it felt like it galvanized our group. Hambly did the same thing for us today. Sharpe is a pretty tough kid who does a lot of trash talking on the ice. That tilt set the tone. Whatever pushback they were coming back with got stopped in its tracks at centre ice.”
“Our defence group played outstanding today with (Ryan) Hall out,” Baumhauer continued. “That’s why we went out and got the insurance on the back end leading up to the deadline. Webby had a great game in net. They got a couple lucky ones, but he was solid all night.”
Baumhauer was pleased with the debut performance of O’Dette in the Eagles lineup. “I like the way he plays,” said Dean. “He plays a good north-south game and isn’t afraid to get involved physically despite being a smaller guy. It was great to see him getting in there and score his first goal for us.”
The newcomer was all smiles after his first taste of game action. “It feels good to get one right away,” said O’Dette. “A little lucky, it bounced in off my butt. But a goal is a goal! I was just battling in front of the net. I do what I’ve gotta do, and I’ll take whatever I can get. I know my role here. I’m here to bring energy to the lineup and play an aggressive game.”
The top line was flying for the Eagles from the opening drop of the puck. Leading scorer Urquhart put up five points on the afternoon and seemed to be a threat offensively every time he touched the puck. “I don’t know what it is, but I find I have more energy for afternoon games,” said Trevor. “I felt ready to go today.”
The Eagles will need a similarly strong effort this Thursday when they host the Uxbridge Bruins. Based the previous five meetings between the Durham rivals, it should be another physical contest. Game time is 7:25 as usual.