Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by C. Archer
The Clarington Eagles continue to soar.
The boys won their seventh straight contest Thursday evening, defeating the Lakefield Chiefs 6-3 at Rickard Arena.
The Eagles dominated much of the first period, outshooting the Chiefs 18-4 in the frame.
Captain Mitch Davies got Clarington on the board eight minutes into the game when he defected a tight angle shot from Kyle Smith for his fourth goal of the season.
Three minutes later, blueliner Ryan Hall demonstrated excellent poise with the puck while waiting for a screen to develop in front of the Lakefield netminder. Hall’s patience was rewarded, as he was able to walk in to the top of the faceoff circle before unleashing perfect wrist shot off the post and in.
Before the period was out, Lakefield took advantage of some missed Clarington defensive zone coverage to finish off a nice passing play and claw back within one.
Davies scored his second of the contest early in the second period, converting a centering pass from Kolby Poulin after some hard work along the boards.
However, Lakefield was not about to go away quietly.
Three minutes into he second period, a miscommunication at the Clarington blueline led to an odd man rush. The Chiefs capitalized on the opportunity to narrow the gap to 3-2. Then, in the final minute of the period Lakefield drew even on a goalmouth scramble.
Despite having outshot the Chiefs 32-9 through two periods of play, the Eagles found themselves knotted up at 3-3 heading into the third.
Whatever the message delivered in the dressing room between periods was, it certainly seemed to have been effective. Clarington came out on a mission in the third.
With the Eagles on the man advantage, Davies deflected a Hall point shot to complete the hat trick with what turned out to be the game winner seven minutes into the final period. Adam Klaas and Trent Gaylor added insurance goals to secure the victory.
Overall, coach Dean Baumhauer was pleased with his club’s effort. “We had an excellent first period, and an excellent third period,” said Dean. “We missed a lot of good looks. The problem is when you do that, you let your opponent hang around and get confidence that they might be able to take you. They scored on their chances tonight. We gave up a couple goals on three-on-three missed assignment coverage. Those are easy fixes that we’ll iron out. Tonight would have been an easy game to lose by overlooking them for Uxbridge tomorrow night. This was a good test for us. I loved our response in the third. The guys did an excellent job getting it done.”
“A lot of guys had good nights tonight,” Dean continued. “When our top line only gets one, and we get three from the Davies line and another from Gaylor, it speaks to our depth. Gaylor, Bell and Aitken played with high energy and were engaged all night. I think Aitken played his best game in two years.”
Davies, who had struggled to find the back of the net early in the season, has had a little extra jump in his stride recently. “Our captain set the tone,” said Baumhauer. “Three goals is great, but he set the tone with physicality, and not getting sucked in to penalties. That’s what we need from him. He’s the motor. When he plays the game that way, everybody else buys in.”
“Our team is definitely starting to gel a little better in the room and on the ice,” said Davies. “Personally, I feel like my chemistry with Poulie is building as we play together consistently. The confidence is coming back, and everything is starting to click.”
The Eagles are now eight points clear of second place Georgina atop the Orr Division standings heading into Friday’s road tilt against the Uxbridge Bruins. Game time for fans making the trip is 7:45 p.m. The Bruins will be collecting new, unwrapped toys and gift cards for the Uxbridge Toy Drive at the game.
Eagles fans will also have the opportunity to see their favourite players in the Bowmanville Santa Claus Parade this Saturday at 10:30 and the Newcastle Santa Claus Parade Sunday at 5:30.