Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by C. Archer
The Clarington Eagles shrugged off some first period sluggishness to defeat the Port Perry Lumberjacks 5-0 at Scugog Arena Sunday afternoon.
The Eagles came out of the gate a little flat in the first period. Port Perry generated several chances early in the period but were turned away by Jude Rondina in the Clarington net.
The second period was all Clarington. The Eagles outshot the Lumberjacks 19-4 in the frame and found the back of the net three more times with Brady Darrach (25), Dale Junkin (10), and Kolby Poulin (18) lighting the lamp.
A steady stream of penalties in the third limited the Clarington offence the rest of the way. However, the penalty kill proved to be up to the task of helping to preserve the shutout for Rondina.
“Our legs were a little stale in the first period coming off a 5-day layoff,” said assistant coach Jamie Showers. “We escaped the first with a couple lucky ones. We showed some resilience and were ready to go in the second. We took a few penalties in the third, but we had to let them know the late hit from behind (delivered by Port Perry in the second period) was unacceptable…we have to be there for each other.”
Rondina picked up his seventh win and fourth shutout since joining the Eagles. “Jude has really helped solidify of team’s confidence level,” said Showers. “He’s brought our goaltending to another level. Both goalies have been great!”
Goaltending coach Dan Wilcox was in full agreement with Showers’ assessment. “When we acquired Jude, we felt we were picking up a solid backup goalie,” said Wilcox. “What we’ve ended up with is two legitimate number one goalies! Both kids are fully capable of taking the ball and running with it.”
Second year defenseman Ty Harris played some big minutes in the game for the Eagles. Harris was paired with Ryan Hall as the Eagles chose to rest Carter Watkins, having seven healthy bodies on the blueline.
“This was Harry’s best game since I’ve had him,” said Showers. “We’re delighted with his progression this year. He very coachable. There’s been times we’ve had to limit his ice or not dress him, and he’s always been a consummate teammate. He always takes what he’s given and makes the best of it.”
That team-first mentality was evident when asked about his increased workload Sunday afternoon. Harris was quick to credit his defense partner for his strong effort. “He’s so easy to play with,” Harris said of Hall. “He sees the ice so well, and always makes the right play.”
With the victory, the Eagles are just two points away from clinching first place in the Orr division. An Eagles win or an Uxbridge Bruins regulation loss will be enough to secure top playoff seeding for Clarington.
The Eagles are back in action at home this Thursday when they host the Georgina Ice. Puck drop is 7:25 p.m.