Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Photo by C. Archer
All season long, Clarington Eagles head coach Dean Baumhauer has been preaching the importance of disciplined play to his hockey club. As with all young men, sometimes the message sinks in, and sometimes they need another reminder.
The Eagles received a lesson at the hands of the second place Georgina Ice Friday night. Clarington spent much of the second period in the penalty box and by the time the night was through had to contend with three lengthy five-on-three penalty kills en route to a 4-3 defeat.
Georgina opened the scoring late in the first period after a puck trickled by an Eagles point man leading to an Ice two-on-one. The puck carrier elected to shoot himself on the play, beating Eagles starter Oliver Webster.
Clarington drew even early in the second when Adam Klaas slammed home a Trevor Urquhart rebound from the top of the Georgina crease.
Despite not appearing to be firing on all cylinders, the Eagles found themselves back in the game with plenty of time left to get themselves in gear. However, back-to-back penalties less than a minute apart handed Georgina a long two-man advantage which they were able to capitalize on.
Then, before the second penalty had expired midway through the period, a skirmish occurred resulting in another five-on-three Georgina advantage and an extended 5-minute powerplay resulting from the ejection of Eagles defenseman Cole Williamson. While the Eagles were able to successfully kill off the penalties, they were unable to build much momentum through the remainder of the second period.
Georgina extended their lead to 3-1 early in the third when a shooter used defenseman Ryan Hall as a screen. The shot from just inside the faceoff dot managed to barely trickle through Webster, who likely would have wanted another crack at the save attempt.
Clarington pulled back within one a few minutes later when Brayden Hicks dropped a pass back to trailer Nolan Matheson who beat the Georgina goalkeeper through a heavy screen in front of the net.
With potential momentum on the Eagles’ side, they instead found themselves killing off yet another five-on-three disadvantage as the third period approached the later stages.
With less than two minutes to play and Webster pulled for an extra attacker, a Georgina forward stepped past his check off a faceoff in the Ice zone and fired the loose puck the length of the ice into the empty Clarington net.
Clarington pulled Webster again to create a six-on-four advantage during a late powerplay which they were able to capitalize on. But despite the Eagles pressing to the end, the Ice were able to hold on to preserve the 4-3 win.
Baumhauer was obviously not satisfied with his club’s performance. “I didn’t like our effort until late in the third period,” said Dean. “Half our guys didn’t break a sweat until the third, and that’s not good enough. That’s what they’ve got to learn. If you want to be able to go on a long playoff run, you have to still be able to do the little things even if you don’t have your ‘A’ game. On the empty net goal, we had zero wrap-ups on the faceoff. Their winger was able step right in untouched and fire the puck down the ice. That’s all on us. Nobody did their job on the draw.”
“At the end of the day, we just beat ourselves with a lack of discipline,” Dean continued. “It has happened in both our recent losses against Uxbridge and again tonight. Our lack of composure, often from our better players, has ended up shooting us in the foot. If you’re having to kill more than five penalties in a game, you’re in trouble. You lose all your momentum and guys are getting cold on the bench. Georgina is a good hockey team. We had to kill three five-on-threes…you can’t expect to win that way.”
While the Eagles still hold down first place in the Orr division, the loss puts Georgina back within striking distance, as they have three games in hand to catch Clarington.
The Eagles will be looking to reset with some practice time this week before hosting the Little Britain Merchants this Thursday December 14th at Rickard Arena. Puck drop is 7:25 as usual.