By Sam Laskaris
The shutout streak is over.
But the Clarington Eagles, who had blanked their opponents in three previous consecutive outings, managed to pick up another two points on Thursday.
The Eagles downed the visiting Georgina Ice 4-1 in a Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL) tilt staged at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex.
With the victory the Eagles improved their record to 5-1 and moved into a three-way tie for top spot in the PJHL’s Orr Division standings.
Both the Little Britain Merchants and North Kawartha Knights also have identical 5-1 marks.
Meanwhile, Georgina’s record fell to 1-5 with the setback against Clarington.
“We’re on a nice roll right now,” said Alex Lepizzera, who stopped 27 of the 28 shots he encountered on the night and picked up the W between the pipes for the Eagles. “And we’re going to keep playing the way we are right now. I think if we do, we’re going to have a lot of success as we have been having.”
Lepizzera said he was not upset the Clarington team shutout streak came to an end on Thursday. The squad had gone almost 230 minutes without allowing a goal.
“No, it’s not a disappointment at all,” said Lepizzera, who registered two shutouts during the streak while rookie puckstopper Tyler Ryan also had earned one in his first junior start. “You want to get the two points. I don’t worry about the shutout really. We just focus on getting those two points. It doesn’t matter if you come out 6-5 or 7-6, as long as you get those two points on the board.”
Despite the fact they registered another victory, the Eagles did not put in 60 minutes of hard work on Thursday.
“We came out flat in the first five minutes of the first period,” said Clarington rookie forward Nate Stirling, who scored twice in the match to take over the team goal-scoring lead (he now has four on the season).
The Eagles found themselves tied at 1-1 with the Ice following the opening 20 minutes of action.
“He definitely wasn’t happy with it,” Stirling said of the first intermission chat his club received from head coach Dean Baumhauer. “He thinks we can play a lot better than we did and he’s 100 per cent right. We showed it in the next two periods that we were the better team.”
Stirling also tried to deflect some praise off of himself for his two-goal night.
“I feel it’s a team game so it’s good to get the team fired up, get the boys on the board and keep building off the momentum we started,” he said.
Stirling scored what proved to be the eventual game-winning goal just 55 seconds into the second period.
And then just 65 seconds later, rookie Matt McCullough netted his first goal of the season to give the Eagles a 3-1 advantage.
Another first-year Clarington forward, Connor Davies, also scored his first of the year, in the lone goal of the final period.
Meanwhile, veteran forward Brent Lace earned a pair of assists and now leads the team scoring race with nine points (two goals, seven assists) in six contests.
The Eagles now have some time off before their next match as they don’t play again until next Thursday (Oct. 28).
The visiting Uxbridge Bruins will provide the opposition for that game, which has an opening faceoff scheduled for 7:20 p.m.
The Eagles will then hit the road the next night to square off against the Ice. The start time for that one, which will be held at the Georgina Ice Palace, is 7:30 p.m.