Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by C. Archer
The Clarington Eagles finished off a four-game sweep of the Lakefield Chiefs Tuesday evening to advance to the second round of the PJHL playoffs. Clarington survived a three goal third period comeback attempt from Lakefield to hold on for a 4-3 win.
Captain Dawson Manning, who was held pointless in the previous two games got the Eagles rolling in the first period. Manning picked off a Chiefs breakout pass while the Eagles were shorthanded, creating a breakaway opportunity. Manning’s shot missed the Lakefield goal, but Mitch Davies pounced on the rebound off the end boards that rolled into the crease to give Clarington a 1-0 lead.
Davies would strike again, this time on the powerplay, 15 minutes into the period. The Eagles cleanly moved the puck around the Lakefield zone with the man advantage before Brady Darrach fed Davies a perfect cross-crease pass for an easy tap-in.
Before the second goal could even be announced the Eagles struck again to extend the lead to 3-0. This time, Davies was the playmaker, setting up defenseman Nolan Matheson in the slot for his third goal of the post-season.
Clarington came out a little slow to start the second period. Lakefield was able to generate several scoring chances including a breakaway that was turned away by Marc-Olivier Robert in the Eagles net.
The Eagles powerplay converted once again halfway through the period when Jake Dupuis dropped the puck to Hayes Bell on the sidewall. Bell curled to the top of the circle and snapped a shot high over the Lakefield goalie’s glove to extend the Clarington lead to 4-0.
Five minutes into the frame, the Chiefs took advantage of some defensive disorganization in the Eagles zone. The resulting scrambly play eventually resulted in the Chiefs first goal and seemed to give them a spark of hope.
Less than two-minutes later, a cross ice pass on a Chiefs powerplay opportunity deflected off the skate of Bryson Kelloway in front of the goal past a surprised Robert who was tracking the puck to it’s intended target.
Lakefield was able to draw within one on a one-timer from the slot on another man-advantage later in the period, but their comeback attempt would ultimately fall one goal short.
“We had our ups and downs in the series,” said Manning. “We’ve got to pick up our play. We can’t be playing like we did tonight going into round two. Our third period tonight was unacceptable. We’ve got to be a lot more disciplined if we’re going to have a deep playoff run.”
Mitch Davies led the offense for Clarington on the evening with two goals and an assist. The feisty winger has had an impact for the Eagles every night, whether it be on the scoresheet, or by simply creating chaos for his opponents on the forecheck. “Mitch had a hell of a series,” said Manning. “He always seems to be in the right place on the ice to create opportunities for himself or his teammates.”
“If you could model a player after someone, you’d like everyone to play like Mitch,” said assistant coach Dave Fairey. “He’s always first to the puck, always leading the forecheck. He makes the right plays, always finishes his checks, and he seems to have a knack for scoring big goals. He gets under his opponents’ skin, draws a lot of penalties for us. He has really grown as a player. He’s going to be a good leader in the future for this team.”
The Eagles now await the results of the two remaining Orr Division first round series to determine their next playoff opponents. The Uxbridge Bruins will attempt to complete a series sweep of the Port Perry Lumberjacks Wednesday evening, and the Georgina Ice currently hold a 3-1 series lead against the North Kawartha Knights. Little Britain has already advanced to second round via a first round bye.