Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by R, Mansfield
The Clarington Eagles started 2024 on a winning note Thursday evening at Rickard Arena. The club came out on the right side of a 7-4 shootout with the visiting Lakefield Chiefs to extend their current win streak to five games.
The Eagles wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Before the game was even two minutes old and with fans still filing into their seats, Clarington had jumped to a 2-0 lead on goals by Kyle Smith and Brayden Hicks.
Lakefield responded to narrow the lead to 2-1 twelve minutes into the period. However, Kolby Poulin would find Mitch Davies with a breakaway pass before the period was done. Davies made no mistake snapping a shot blocker side under the crossbar to restore the 2-goal cushion.
The second period was probably not one that the coaching staff on either bench had drawn up at practice. Turnovers were the theme of the period, as the teams traded chances for 20 minutes. Despite the sloppiness in play, the Eagles still ended up with the advantage on the scoreboard, outscoring Lakefield 3-2 in the frame on goals from Poulin, Trevor Urquhart and Cole Williamson.
The teams traded goals in the third period, with Joe Boice finding the back of the net for his first as an Eagle.
“We had a good start and had their goalie reeling. Then we missed the net on three or four really good looks right after that. You’ve got to take advantage when presented with opportunities like that,” said head coach Dean Baumhauer of his team’s quick start.
“We were sloppy in our own end,” Dean continued. “We got up two or three goals, and we started cheating. Guys were blowing the zone early and on the wrong side of pucks. We had a bad rotation on the penalty kill for their fourth goal. Our gaps for all our D were pretty good tonight, but we had a few guys trying to make something out of nothing when they didn’t need to.”
Baumhauer wasn’t dwelling on his team’s execution after the game. “It was a bit of a sloppy win, but we got the two points. The boys had a nice holiday, and our roster is pretty much set. We’ve got 14 games left to sharpen up before the playoffs.”
Rookie forward Brayden Hicks has found himself playing increased minutes over the past several weeks as he continues to adapt to the junior game. It is difficult enough to establish yourself as one of the youngest players on a veteran team. But Hicks’ early season development was stalled by an injury which kept him out of the line-up for most of October. He has been playing a regular shift and served important minutes on the penalty kill recently, while putting up points in five of the past six games. “I’m just trying to go with the flow,” said Brayden. “I’m trying to make the most of any ice time I get and have an impact, whether that’s scoring goals or getting under the other team’s skin.”
The Eagles will be looking to keep their win streak going when they travel to Little Britain this Saturday to battle the Merchants. The Merchants will no doubt be out to exact some payback for the 9-0 thrashing they took from Clarington a week ago.