Article by Sam Laskaris/Photos by Chris Archer & N. Schoonderbeek
The Clarington Eagles once again handily outshot their opening-round playoff opponents.
But on Sunday afternoon the Eagles also got quite a few goals as well to trounce the host Port Perry MoJacks 7-1 in a Provincial Junior Hockey League contest staged at Scugog Arena.
With that win, the Eagles are now in complete control of their opening-round, best-of-seven playoff series against the MoJacks, holding a commanding 3-0 edge.
Clarington had fired more than 60 shots per outing in the opening two games of the series but had to settle for 3-0 and 4-3 victories.
Brent Lace was one of the biggest offensive guns on Sunday for the Eagles, who outshot their rivals 59-31. He scored four goals, including a natural hat trick in the third period.
“Obviously that’s huge for a vet guy like him,” Eagles’ head coach Dean Baumhauer said of Lace.
Lace, who is 21, is unsure if he had ever previously accomplished the rare feat of scoring three consecutive goals in one match.
“I remember having hat tricks,” he said. “But I can’t remember if I’ve ever had a natural hat trick.”
Despite the personal accomplishment, Lace was more thrilled with the fact his squad was able to bury more of its opportunities than in the first two contests of the series.
Lace scored all four of his goals while the Eagles were on the powerplay.
Clarington was only up by a pair of markers, 3-1, heading into the second intermission. But the MoJacks came unhinged in the final 20 minutes as they were assessed 18 penalties, compared to nine that the Eagles took.
“They started playing stupid and we took advantage of that on our powerplays after they just unraveled,” Baumhauer said. “Their bench is embarrassing really. There’s zero discipline. And their guys were just going out trying to hurt our guys.”
Lace said his teammates did their best to avoid confrontations with several of the MoJacks, especially during the latter stages of the final period.
“We’re the better team out there,” he said. “They’re just doing anything they can just go get into our heads. But we’ve just got to look past that and get not too tied up too much into it.”
Matt McCullough, who was held pointless but had a solid performance on Sunday, echoed Lace’s thoughts about the importance of staying disciplined when the MoJacks were looking to start altercations.
“You’ve just got to stay focused,” said McCullough, who played the majority of the game at centre but then was back on the point quarterbacking several of the Eagles’ powerplays in the final 20 minutes. “It’s a long series. I think it’s going to be done on Tuesday but we’ve just got to stick to the game and play through it.”
The Eagles will be looking to sweep the series on Tuesday, Mar. 15 when they host the Port Perry club.
Game time at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex is set for 7:50 p.m.
McCullough realizes it will be no easy feat for his squad to finish off the MoJacks in the series.
“I’d say the last game is always the toughest,” he said. “But we should just stick to our game plan and we should be able to put them away.”
McCullough also had his share of praise for Lace, who now has seven goals in the three post-season games thus far.
“It was an unreal performance by him tonight,” he said of Lace. “He’s a good player and he brings it every night.”
Meanwhile, besides Lace, Dawson Manning had an outstanding effort as well, scoring once and racking up five assists.
Additional Photos by Chris Archer & N. Schoonderbeek: