Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Photo by R. Mansfield
The Clarington Eagles gave their home fans an early Christmas gift Thursday evening by way of a 6-0 victory over the Port Perry Lumberjacks.
It took a little while for the Eagles to kick their game into gear, as the Lumberjacks mounted a solid defensive game and counterattack in the first period. But as the period was winding down, Kyle Smith dropped a pass to Adam Klaas who beat the Port Perry starter for his 19th goal of the season.
Clarington made it 2-0 early in the second when rookie Brock Mathieson deflected a shot that trickled into the net through a screen in front.
Owen Manarin converted a Mathieson feed later in the period to spot the Eagles a comfortable 3-0 cushion heading into the second intermission.
The third period was all Clarington.
Trevor Urquhart added his 14th of the season from Klaas and Smith three minutes into the frame to extend the lead to 4-0.
Less than two minutes later, Joe Boice centred to Mitch Davies, who buried his 12th of the year.
Hayes Bell, who has struggled offensively through an injury-plagued season so far, rounded out the scoring for the Eagles. The big centre chipped the puck past a Lumberjack point man on a Clarington penalty kill, creating a long breakaway opportunity. Bell dropped the goaltender to the ice with a couple of nifty dangles before sniping the prettiest goal of the evening off the post and in.
Coach Dean Baumhauer was pleased with his club’s effort, noting the contest could have easily been a trap game. “We have Uxbridge tomorrow, and they’ve taken us three games in a row,” said Dean. “We didn’t overlook our opponent today, and that’s what we talked about before the game. Make sure we get these two points today and then get ready for tomorrow night.”
Oliver Webster stopped all 21 shots he faced, earning his 10th victory and 3rd shutout of the season. “Webster brought his ‘A’ game today,” said Baumhauer. “I thought he was excellent. We made three mistakes in the first period that earlier in the year would have ended up in the back of our net, but Webby came up big for us.”
Baumhauer also singled out the effort of third-year winger Owen Manarin. “I’ve been on Manarin to show me something, and he stepped up with a goal and a couple of assists tonight. We need him. He’s a wildcard for us. He can play. We just need to get that consistent effort from him.”
The Eagles welcomed two of their newest acquisitions to the line-up Thursday.
They acquired North Kawartha captain Joe Boice earlier this week to bolster the forward units. The hard-nosed forward will bring a much-needed physical element that should mesh well with the skill of the existing group. Boice immediately made his presence felt, finishing checks and delivering a nice set-up on Davies’ third-period goal. “You can tell he’s got everyone’s back out there,” said Baumhauer of his new addition. “He plays a heavy game.”
Any time a team adds a player of Boice’s ilk, memories of past battles on the ice are stirred up. Joe had gone to war with many of his new teammates dating back to their minor hockey days. But he seemed to be at ease with his new surroundings and teammates. “I’m happy to be here and do my part,” said Boice with a grin. “Often the guys you hate the most when you battle against them end up being the guys you like the most when you play with them. It’s been great so far!”
On the heels of the trade that landed them Everitt Corniel from the Little Britain Merchants a couple weeks ago, the Eagles gave their blueline another shot in the arm with the re-signing of defenseman Ethan Schoonderbeek. Schoonderbeek previously anchored the Clarington blueline along with former captain Mitch Doyle in their 2021-22 Schmalz Cup run that saw them fall in overtime in the winner-take-all final.
“Adding Scoob on the back end is huge,” said Baumhauer. “He can skate pucks out of trouble, he closes gaps, he’s physical and he elevates whatever partner he’s paired with.”
Thursday’s contest marked Schoonderbeek’s first competitive game in a year and a half. The rugged rearguard took last season off for educational pursuits and health reasons. But he has returned to the club motivated to do whatever it takes to help the team win. “The legs were burning a little bit out there,” Ethan laughed after the game. “It’s a good group of guys in this room, and an easy group to play with. We have a solid core group and a lot of depth. I’m glad I could ease back into the lineup and be effective.”
In other roster news, the Eagles have reacquired popular goaltender Jude Rondina from the Orillia Terriers. Rondina will get the start in goal for Clarington Friday night in Uxbridge for the team’s final game before Christmas. One more win would be a nice present under the tree for the Clarington coaching staff!
Fun Fact: Did you know Ethan Schoonderbeek’s standard player contract contains a unique clause? The clause requires Assistant GM Craig Wilcox to name his first-born child “Scooby”