Merchants Clip Eagles’ Wings to End Unbeaten Streak

Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by C. Archer

The common trait of streaks in the sporting world is that eventually they come to an end. The Clarington Eagles’ season-opening, ten-game unbeaten streak was halted by the Little Britain Merchants Saturday evening.

The game was a tight battle between two teams that are separating themselves from the rest of the pack in the PJHL Orr division.

Luck was not on Clarington’s side for this game. The squad lost Kolby Poulin to injury halfway through the first period. A short time later, Eagles starter Carter Watson was injured after the Merchants crashed the net. Neither player would return to the ice.

Head coach Dean Baumhauer was ejected from the game after voicing his displeasure with a call with eight minutes to go in the first. “I can’t be getting kicked out in the first period of a big game,” said Baumhauer. “That doesn’t help anything.”

The Eagles’ injury woes continued in the second period when workhorse defenseman Bryson Kelloway left the ice with three minutes to play. He attempted to test the injury with a brief skate after the second intermission but quickly departed for the Eagles dressing room. Any extended absence by the 6’7” minute-munching defender will be a blow to the team while they are also without the services of Ryan Hall for the next four games.

Goaltender Marc-Olivier Robert was excellent in relief for the Eagles, stopping 26 of 27 shots.

Little Britain would finally break the stalemate on the scoreboard with just under five minutes to play in the third period. With bodies creating havoc in front of the net, a Merchants forward pulled off “the Michigan” play, scooping the puck up on his stick and flicking it over Robert from behind the Clarington goal for what proved to be the game-winner.

On top of their injury issues, the Eagles didn’t get much help from the officiating crew. With Robert pulled for an extra attacker and 20 seconds to play, Little Britain rifled a shot at the empty Clarington net from their own side of center ice which missed its target. Inexplicably, the linesman missed the icing call which should have given the Eagles a key offensive zone faceoff with the game on the line. Instead, they were unable to generate another offensive chance the rest of the way.

Coach Baumhauer wasn’t dwelling on “what ifs” after the game. “I actually liked our game tonight,” said Baumhauer. “I liked this game a lot better than some of our wins. We needed some adversity. We needed to lose a tough one like this to keep the boys grounded. I thought we competed, I liked our five-on-five play, and we generated chances. We hit three or four posts. If a couple of those go in, it’s a different outcome.”

“A lot of guys had their best games tonight,” Dean continued. “Connor Davies played great, and Nolan Matheson played a ton with all the added injuries throughout the game.”

Baumhauer pointed to the team’s performance on the powerplay as a key factor in the loss. The Eagles were 0 for 6 with the man advantage. “Our powerplay is the reason we didn’t win tonight,” said Dean. “Not only did we not score, but we actually lost momentum with the man advantage. We’ve got some work to do there.”

Despite the loss, Clarington remains in first place in the Orr division. They are four points ahead of the Merchants.

The club has a week to regroup and recover before traveling to Apsley to take on the North Kawartha Knights on Saturday, October 29. Game time at the North Kawartha Community Centre is 7:25 p.m. There is no home game this coming Thursday evening.