Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Photos by C. Archer & Tessa Schoonderbeek
They didn’t make it easy for themselves but the Clarington Eagles improved their record to a perfect 3-0 on the season with a 4-3 overtime win over the Uxbridge Bruins Friday night at the Uxbridge Arena and Recreation Centre.
Clarington didn’t exactly come out flying in their first back-to-back contest of the year after defeating the Port Perry Lumberjacks the previous evening.
“We weren’t very good at all in the first period,” said head coach Dean Baumhauer. ”We only had about half of our guys going tonight.”
The Bruins came out of the first period with a 1-0 lead after outshooting Clarington 12-8.
Momentum seemed to be swinging in the Eagles’ favour in the second period. With just over five minutes to go in the frame, the Eagles appeared to have evened the score on the powerplay when a hard shot entered and exited the net behind the Uxbridge goaltender. However, the official quickly signaled no goal and play was allowed to continue.
Uxbridge widened their lead to two late in the second. Rookie goaltender Brayden Friedrich was able to stop a Bruins breakaway and the ensuing rebound. However, the third Uxbridge forward on the rush was not picked up by a Clarington defender and snapped the puck past the helpless Clarington netminder.
Captain Dawson Manning scored with 0.4 seconds remaining in the period to get the Eagles back within a goal going into the second intermission.
The Bruins restored their two-goal lead early in the third period, chipping the puck over Friedrich on a goalmouth scramble.
However, the Eagles would answer right back 17 seconds later when Kolby Poulin tipped in a Nolan Matheson point shot for his first of the season. The quick response appeared to energize the Eagles bench as they continued to pressure the Bruins in the offensive zone.
Poulin would score again with six minutes left to play off a feed from Mitchell Davies to tie the score at three and eventually send the game to overtime.
The two teams entertained the crowd in Uxbridge in 3-on-3 overtime with some exciting end to end action. The Bruins nearly ended the game 20 seconds into the extra period with a shot that beat Friedrich but bounced off the crossbar out of play.
Each team had breakaway opportunities turned away by the goaltenders who were both forced to make several difficult saves throughout the extra frame.
“Jakes not here to be a Kevin Lowe,” joked Baumhauer. “He’s here to shoot that shot. And what a bomb! That shot goes in on any goalie in any league.”
OT Winner!!! pic.twitter.com/d6p5PY911X
— Clarington Eagles (@EaglesPJHL) September 24, 2022
Baumhauer pointed to the team’s improvement at the faceoff circle in the third period and overtime as one of the keys to the come from behind victory. “Manning, Poulin and Davies really got us going on the offensive faceoffs,” said Dean. “The Dupuis goal starts on a faceoff win. We’ve been on the guys about winning more draws.”
New Eagle Poulin expressed some relief in finally finding the back of the net in his third game of the season. ”It’s unreal,” said Poulin about returning to play in his hometown. “I watched my brother (long-time Eagle Brett Poulin) play here his last few years. I’m really happy to be here now and getting those two tonight definitely helps.”
The coach focused on the positives after the game. “We got a win when we weren’t at our best tonight,” Baumhauer said. “We had a good third period, a good overtime, and we’ve now had back-to-back good games from our two young goalies. They don’t have to be great. They just have to be good and give us a chance to win, because we’re pretty good.”
The next opportunity for Eagles fans to see just how good this year’s team is will be Thursday, September 29 when they host Uxbridge in the return match at Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex. Puck drop is at 7:25 p.m.