Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by C. Archer
There were no between-period Lori Glazier pep-talks necessary in Little Britain Saturday night…
The Clarington Eagles put in a solid road effort, defeating the host Little Britain Merchants 6-3 in a competitive contest.
Brady Darrach got Clarington on the scoreboard halfway through the first period from Jordan Shaw and Cole Williamson. The play was set up by a Merchants neutral zone turnover that led to a quick counterattack. Darrach made no mistake snapping a laser shot past the Merchants goalie from the top of the faceoff circle.
The Merchants evened the score early in the second period off a deflection in front of the crease that found its way past trade deadline acquisition Jude Rondina, who got his first start between the pipes for the Eagles.
“Nobody’s favourite defenseman” Nolan Matheson restored the Clarington lead eight minutes into the second when the Merchants failed to clear the puck after a flurry of Eagles scoring chances. Matheson went bar-down with a rocket from the point through a mass of bodies in front of the Merchants’ goal.
Little Britain quickly drew even again on a deflected point shot.
But from there, Clarington’s recently revitalized powerplay took over.
After a Little Britain checking from behind penalty just past the twelve-minute mark of the period, Williamson found Dawson Manning streaking towards the Little Britain goal and fed the captain a perfect cross-ice pass that he on-timed past the outstretched netminder.
The Eagles would strike on another powerplay opportunity two minutes later when Darrach popped in a rebound after Shaw took the puck hard to the net.
Little Britain would take advantage of a failed Eagles clearing attempt late in the period to make the score 4-3 going into the second intermission.
The opening 10 minutes of the third featured a lot of close checking as the Eagles protected their one-goal lead.
As the period wore on, Adam Klaas, who appeared to be frustrated with his play throughout the evening was challenged by coach Dean Baumhauer to snap out of it….and boy did he! His very next shift, Klaas took a pass from Ryan Hall deep in the Clarington zone and jetted coast-to-coast down the right wing. Klaas cut to the net and powered his way past the final Merchants defender to score a highlight reel goal!
“Klaas was struggling, and I got on him. I told him after the game if that’s what it takes…for me to give you a blast and you go out next shift and stuff one in, you can come back to the bench and tell me to suck it all day long! That was a man goal!” said Baumhauer with a grin.
“I’m not going to tell you what Dean said to me,” Klaas said with a smirk. “I was having a bit of a tough game and it took my linemates and Dean to get me going. I was able to give him the response he was looking for.”
Manning scored his second of the game late in the third from Matheson and Dale Junkin. The captain opted to hold the puck himself on a three-on-one opportunity and picked the corner high over the Merchant goalkeeper’s glove to make it 6-3.
With the win, the Eagles have defeated their two closest rivals in the Orr division standings over the past three days.
“I really liked our game tonight,” said Baumhauer. “We made a couple of mental errors. That third goal against can’t happen, and the boys know that. But I thought we were in control most of the game. When you’re playing against a good team, your best players need to be your best players, and tonight they were for us.”
“The key tonight was the back end,” Baumhauer continued. “Matheson coming back is huge for us. He plays the game hard. Kelloway is getting his reps in after a long layoff, and Williamson and Hall were great. They both make great plays, and they eat a lot of minutes back there for us.”
The top line of Manning, Darrach, and Shaw combined for four goals and two assists on the evening. “We probably don’t say enough about our captain,” said Baumhauer. “Manning was outstanding today. The top line had a great night. I moved Shawzy up there for Poulin to get a little better balance through the lineup, and because Little Britain likes to match up against our top line. I thought Jordan could fill that heavy forecheck role and it worked out well for us.”
Rondina put in a solid first appearance in goal for his new club. “Jude played great. He made some big saves and closed the door in the third period,” said Baumhauer.
“The boys played awesome in front of me,” said Rondina. “We put six behind them and put in a huge effort on defense. They blocked shots and really bared down on defense in the third.”
The Eagles are back in action on Thursday, January 19, when they welcome the North Kawartha Knights to the nest. Puck drop is 7:25 p.m. at Rickard Arena.