Story by I. Schoonderbeek/Photos by C. Archer
That’s more like it.
The Clarington Eagles bounced back from a disappointing effort in their pre-season opener last week to defeat the visiting Midland Flyers 9-1 in PJHL action on Thursday, September 8, at Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex.
The Eagles jumped to an early lead within the first minute of the game when second-year forward Mitchell Davies directed a bad-angle shot toward the Flyers’ goal. The shot somehow found its way into the back of the net through traffic.
Defenseman Jake Dupuis made it 3-0 five minutes into the second period. He beat the Flyers goalie Aiden Amaro high blocker with a wrister from the slot off after taking a pass from Owen Canini from deep in the Midland zone.
Five minutes later, Nate Stirling tipped in a shot from the right faceoff dot by rookie defenseman Ethan Vivian. This increased the Eagles lead to four just seconds after a Flyers penalty had expired.
Midland switched goaltenders after the Stirling goal, a common practice used by many teams in exhibition play to get all players some game action. But things would be no easier for incoming goalie Cam Allen as the Eagles continued to dominate play.
The Flyers took advantage of some sloppy play in the Clarington end at the 17-minute mark of the second period. Tyler Sweat scored a tap-in goal on rookie netminder Brayden Friedrich. But that’s as close as Midland would get for the rest of the evening.
Clarington quickly responded a minute and a half later to restore the four-goal lead. Off-season acquisition Kolby Poulin, younger brother of long-time Eagle Brett Poulin, deposited a Dawson Manning rebound behind Flyers goalkeeper Allen.
The third period consisted of more of the same as the Eagles were clearly feeling confident.
Leyton Aitken scored unassisted in a scramble in front of the Flyers crease eight minutes into the period. Then one minute later Aitken sprung Manning who beat Cam Allen between the legs on a partial breakaway to increase the lead to 8-1.
Adam Klaas rounded out the scoring midway through the period. He buried a backhand shot high over the Flyers netminder’s glove.
Eagles head coach Dean Baumhauer was pleased with the progress he saw from his club over the past week. “Obviously, coming off our first pre-season game we didn’t like the result or the effort,” said Baumhauer. “We got contributions from all four lines tonight. Midland may not be the team Port Hope is, but they’re a Junior C team nonetheless, and I thought we looked better.”
Coach Baumhauer wasn’t dwelling on the win, instead stressing that the pre-season was all about the teambuilding process. “Everybody is getting more comfortable. Half the team is made up of new guys again, so we’ve got guys playing their first junior games and two young goalies. Young Brayden Friedrich in net got his first Junior win, so that’s a huge plus. I thought we were starting to look more comfortable with each other tonight. We’re getting to know everybody’s names for one, the communication on the ice is key.”
Baumhauer feels work ethic, a demand he has made of all the teams he has coached over his storied career, will determine how successful this year’s Eagles squad is. “Once we get going if we outwork our opponents our skillset is better than most teams. Last week we got beat thinking it was going to be easy, but we’ve got to understand that when you’re the Eastern Conference Champs and you go to the finals of the Schmalz Cup, every single team is going to bring their A game against us this year. There won’t be any easy games.”
The Eagles won’t have much time to rest, as they travel to Port Hope this Saturday to finish off the pre-season schedule against the Panthers at the Jack Burger Sports Complex. Puck drop is at 7:30 pm.
“I was proud of the effort today, but I’m looking forward to Saturday night after losing 6-1 to Port Hope last week” said Baumhauer. “I’m looking forward to see how we respond in the rematch against them.”
Clarington kicks off the regular season schedule on Thursday, September 15, at 7:25 pm when they host the North Kawartha Knights at Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex.