Eagles Start Playoffs on a Winning Note

Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by C. Archer

The playoffs are here!

The Clarington Eagles started the post-season off the right way Thursday evening. The team soundly defeated the visiting Lakefield Chiefs 8-1 in game one of their first-round best-of-seven series. For the second season in a row, the Eagles had the option of taking a first-round bye but chose to play the opening round to keep sharp.

It was a dominant performance by the home side, who outshot Lakefield by a 51-17 margin.

Captain Dawson Manning got the Eagles on the scoreboard early in the first period. Manning stopped a Carter Watkins point shot in front of the net before cleanly lifting the puck over the Chiefs netminder who was down on the ice in reaction to Watkins’ attempt.

Ryan Hall made it 2-0 mid-way through the first when he whacked his own rebound out of the air on the powerplay. Manning and Mitch Davies drew assists on the play.

The Eagles blew the game wide open in the second period.

Mitch Davies scored his first of the post-season 21 seconds into the period when he fired home a rebound off a Manning shot on the rush.

Less than two minutes later, Owen Canini took a pass from Hall and fired a low shot along the ice that found its way through the Lakefield goalkeeper.

Hall added his second of the game on the powerplay at the 5-minute mark of the period when he snapped in a rebound from Mitch Davies and Adam Klaas.

Kolby Poulin extended the lead to 6-0 from Manning and Mitch Davies before Lakefield was finally able to deflect a shot past Jude Rondina in the Eagles’ net to break up his shutout bid.

The third period brought more of the same…

Rookie Dale Junkin did some excellent work holding the puck in the offensive zone and drawing the Lakefield defenders to him before dishing the puck to Connor Davies. Davies made no mistake, quickly snapping a shot high over the goaltender’s shoulder.

Mitch Davies added his second goal and fifth point of the evening from Klaas and Watkins to finish off the scoring.

Tempers flared late in the third when Lakefield took exception to a hit in the defensive zone. Ty Harris and Jordan Shaw both found themselves ejected for fighting. They will serve suspensions due to the altercations occurring in the last 10 minutes of the third period. The Eagles have Brady Darrach, Jake Dupuis, and Owen Manarin waiting in the wings to step into the lineup.

The game marked the return of second-year winger Leyton Aitken. Aitken suffered a knee injury in the first game of the regular season and had missed 40 straight contests. “I felt good out there,” said Aitken. “The first two periods I felt a little rusty, but by the third I started to find my rhythm. The quads started to feel a little tired halfway through the game, but overall, I’m happy with how things went tonight.”

Head Coach Dean Baumhauer was pleased with the effort from his squad. “Lakefield is on borrowed time,” said Dean. “There’s no pressure on them whatsoever. All the pressure is on our group. We chose to play instead of taking the bye to stay sharp. We had a good start. We were good on the faceoffs all night, we directed lots of shots on their net and chased their goalie early.”

“We’ll get by the next couple games without Shawzy and Harry,” Baumhauer continued. “I’ve got no problem with guys sticking up for their teammates. I’m not a big fan of it happening in the last ten minutes, but they sent a pretty clear message to the other bench that they best not be taking liberties with our guys. We’ve got players ready to step back into the lineup.”

Game two of the series takes place Saturday night in Lakefield. The two teams return to Bowmanville Sunday evening to battle it out in game three. Puck drop in both games this weekend is at 7:25p.m.