Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by C. Archer
The Eagles earned three of four points this week after a pair of games that required extra time to decide their outcomes.
In a considerable upset, the Junior C squad dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the North Kawartha Knights on Thursday at Rickard Arena. Making the result even more disappointing was that the Knights only had 12 skaters dressed for the contest.
“It was embarrassing,” said head coach Dean Baumhauer. “A juvenile team could have beaten us. It wasn’t just one guy, it was collectively…we had nobody with a pulse. But these types of games happen sometimes. Frenchie played good in net, but that’s about it.”
Friday’s road tilt against the second-place Uxbridge Bruins was a different story. The Eagles had the Bruins hemmed in their own zone for most of the first period, outshooting them 20-7 in the process. However, Uxbridge escaped the first period sporting a 1-0 lead after capitalizing on a turnover at the Clarington blueline.
The balance of play evened out over the rest of the game, with the goaltenders on both ends coming up with big saves to keep their teams in the contest.
The Eagles were on the receiving end of a series of penalties in the first half of the second period. Many of the calls appeared to be questionable at best, but the Clarington penalty kill proved to be up to the task. In fact, the calls appeared to fire the Eagles up as they pressed for the equalizer.
Clarington’s tenacity was rewarded before the second period ended. Connor Davies got the play started by creating a turnover on the forecheck with a big hit along the boards. The puck was quickly moved around the Bruins zone before Dale Junkin (the goal was erroneously credited to Davies) was able to snap a rebound over the Uxbridge netminder who was sprawled out on the ice after making the initial save.
The Eagles gained the lead for the first time in the game early in the third period. Dawson Manning deflected a waist-high point shot from Cole Williamson for his 20th goal of the season. The officials gathered briefly to get consensus as to whether Manning’s stick was high on the deflection prior to awarding the goal.
Clarington fell into a more defensive approach after gaining the lead, seeming more content to cut off the Uxbridge attack and keep pucks deep rather than pressing on the attack.
Late in the third, Uxbridge took advantage of a high-sticking penalty to draw even on the powerplay. A hard point shot through a screen was tipped in front of Eagles goalie Jude Rondina and found the back of the net just inside the post to even the score at 2-2 and forcing overtime.
Two Bruins penalties in the extra period proved to be their undoing. The Eagles patiently worked the puck around the Uxbridge zone on the five on three man-advantage before Brady Darrach ended the game with his 24th of the season from Manning and Ryan Hall.
“It was a good bounce-back win after the disappointing outing last night,” said Baumhauer. “I liked our compete level tonight and we managed the puck a lot better than we did on Thursday. Our back end in particular played a lot better.”
“Great net presence by Junkin on the first goal,” Dean continued. “Connor Davies’ hit on the half wall on the forecheck created the first goal and his net drive in overtime drew the first penalty. It’s those non-gamesheet things Connor does every night that make him so valuable.”
“I’ve just been trying to get in on the forecheck,” said Davies. “Dean has been preaching it lately, to get in and play heavy. I’m just trying to lead by example. When our forecheck is going, our team is going and creating offence. It showed tonight. We were able to create opportunities and draw penalties.
“Mitch (Davies) gave me a good pass there in overtime and I thought it was going to go in, but we drew the penalty and let our big guys go out there and do what they do best,” Connor continued. “Brady’s a goal scorer. You put the puck on his stick and there’s a good chance it’s going in.”
It was another outstanding goaltending effort by Rondina, who picked up his fifth win as an Eagle since being acquired in January. “When it was 1-0 they had several opportunities where they could have easily made it two or three nothing, and Jude came up with some huge saves. It was a real solid effort by him today,” said Baumhauer.
The Eagles are back in action this Tuesday, February 14 when they travel to Lakefield to take on the Chiefs at 7:25 p.m. What better way to show that special someone in your life you care than a night out in Lakefield!
(Note from the website editor & wife of the article author: No, Ian, we are not spending Valentine’s Day in Lakefield)
Reminder: There is no home game on Thursday this week.