By Sam Laskaris
The Clarington Eagles not only racked up another victory on Thursday.
But they also earned some additional respect from their head coach Dean Baumhauer for their we’re-all-in-this-together mentality following a massive brawl late in their 4-0 triumph against the Little Britain Merchants.
A total of 10 players (five from each squad), including Eagles’ star goaltender Alex Lepizzera, were ejected for their involvement in the fisticuffs during the Provincial Junior Hockey League contest held at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex.
The donnybrook began after a Merchants’ player made some contact with Lepizzera.
Following the match Baumhauer was waiting to see the fallout of the incident, which will undoubtedly see several of the club’s players suspended for upcoming matches.
“Lepy has to keep his head and stay on the blue ice there but I’m old school and I like a good line brawl,” Baumhauer said. “I think we’re going to struggle for the next few games and we’re going to have to call up some kids but I think that galvanizes the dressing room. There’s nothing wrong with that. That was old school hockey. I’m cheering right along with them.”
The Eagles, including Lepizzera, more than held their own in their late-game fights. Clarington rookie forward Jordan Shaw in particular delivered a decisive pounding on his opponent.
“That will get around the league,” Baumhauer said. “Nobody is going near him again. That was a blind alley beatdown and I loved it.”
Baumhauer also enjoyed many of the other aspects of the game.
The Clarington squad was also able to withstand a Merchants’ second-period push. Little Britain outshot the Eagles 14-5 in the middle frame but was not rewarded with any goals.
And then Clarington put the game out of reach in the third period when both Cole and Manarin netted their second goals of the night.
Eagles’ rookie forward Jacob Cavers found himself in an unusual position for the game. He was moved back to play defence, the first time in about a half dozen years that he’s suited up at the position.
“I just kind of tried to make the most of the opportunity obviously and I guess I held my own in that game,” said Cavers, who not only was credited with an assist on Manarin’s first-period goal but was also chosen by his teammates as the Eagles’ player of the game.
Cavers added the squad’s other defencemen provided him with plenty of support throughout the night.
“Before the game and even in warmup, they were pretty good to me,” he said. “I told them if I was making any mistakes or if I should do certain things, just to let me know. I’m pretty open to stuff like that. They were really good with helping me out and pointing out my mistakes and what I should be doing and what I shouldn’t be doing.”
If called upon again, Cavers said he would feel comfortable patrolling the team’s back end.
“I think I’ll be pretty comfortable,” he said. “Little Britain is one of the better teams in the league. So, I think if I can hold my own against them I should be alright against the other teams.
If Dean wants to put me out there, obviously I’ll go out there. I’m just going to play my role on this team and take it shift by shift.”
As for Cole, besides his two-goal night, he was pleased to see his teammates sticking up for one another in the late-game brawl.
“It’s good to see the guys coming together,” he said.
And Cole didn’t seem too concerned the Eagles will pay the consequences and have some suspended players in coming matches.
“It’s going to be tough but I think we can get it done,” he said. “I think we’re deep. All four lines are good. With a couple of guys out it will be hard but I think we can get it done.”
With the victory Clarington improved its record to 10-2-0-2, good for top spot in the league’s Orr Division. With the setback the Merchants remained in third place in the divisional standings and now sport a mark of 8-4-0-1.
The Eagles return to action on Saturday with a road contest against the North Kawartha Knights. That match, which will be held at the North Kawartha Community Centre in Apsley, has an opening faceoff set for 7:25 p.m.
Clarington’s next home game is scheduled for Nov. 25 versus the Lakefield Chiefs. Game time is 7:20 p.m.