Article by N. Schoonderbeek/Media by C. Archer
As the Clarington Eagles approach the playoff semifinal round, four players are sure to be reflecting on their junior hockey days as they near the end of their eligibility. Connor Davies, Dawson Manning, Carter Watkins, and Bryson Kelloway are all talented 2001-born players who are graduating this year from the Eagles.
There are plenty of lessons learned that will benefit these players in their path ahead, particularly surrounding teamwork, perseverance, and hard work. President Kirk Kemp played for the Bowmanville Eagles in the late 1970s and helped the team to bring home the Schmalz Cup. He was asked to reflect on what he learned during his time as an Eagle.
“Growing up playing minor hockey in Bowmanville gave me wonderful memories, lifelong friends, and valuable life lessons. I was fortunate to play on many Ontario championship teams including Bowmanville’s first Junior C championship with the Eagles,” shared Kemp. “Playing hockey teaches young people great life skills about following directions from your coaches, working together with your teammates, and never giving up.”
Kemp also helpfully shared one of his favourite memories from his playing days. “My most memorable example of never giving up was being down three games to two. We were losing three to one in that game, with 37 seconds left and a man short. We tied the game and won in overtime! We also went on to win the next game and eventually the Ontario championship.”
Head coach Dean Baumhauer was asked about each of the overagers. “All these boys are coachable and team players with strong leadership and it’s been a privilege having them on my team,” said Baumhauer.
Captain Dawson Manning joined in 2019 at the same time as Baumhauer joined as head coach. “Dawson has been a great player since day one. He was a key contributor last year in our long playoff run, and this year dominated our division,” said Baumhauer. Manning has received many accolades for his play this year, including the PJHL Orr Division player of the month in October and the Hoopers Eagles player of the month award in January. He was also the leading scorer in the Eastern Conference, and was tied for fifth overall best scorer in the PJHL.
Bryson Kelloway was acquired from Port Hope Panthers this season, but is a local talent from Courtice and had previously played with the Clarington Toros U18 AAA team. “He is a big part of our strong defence group. He has very strong leadership skills both on and off the ice,” said Baumhauer. At 6’7” and 215 pounds, Kelloway is hard to miss when on the ice. He played 27 regular season games and contributed 19 points, including two goals and 17 assists.
Connor Davies also joined the Eagles in 2019. As an alternate captain, he has been a big part of our leadership group. “I love his passion and high hockey IQ,” said Baumhauer. Davies has been a major contributor to the score sheets this year, with an impressive 28 points in 38 regular season games. In the first four games of the playoffs, he has contributed seven points, including three goals and four assists. Davies should still be a regular at the Rickard Arena in the coming years to cheer on his brother, Mitch Davies, and cousin, Brady Darrach.
Carter Watkins also joined in 2019 and is having a great overager year, said Baumhauer. “He played good D and produced some much-needed offence from the backend.” Watkins’ play was recognized with the Hoopers Eagle player of the month award for December.
“It’s been a great three years playing for this team, and I’m just trying to soak it all in one day at a time because any day could be my last playing for this team,” said Watkins. “I’ve met a lot of great people playing for this team over the years. These friendships will go much further in my life than in my hockey career. That’s the best part of playing this sport. It’s been a fantastic time playing for my hometown, and I’ll cherish these memories for a long time.”
President Kemp has some advice for these players as they graduate from the team this year, which is the same advice that he shared with his own kids. “The four most important things to remember are 1) be happy, 2) believe in yourself, 3) do your best, and 4) NEVER quit!”
After defeating the Lakefield Cheifs in four games in the first round of playoffs, the Eagles will face the Georgina Ice in the semifinals starting Thursday, March 23 at 7:25 pm at Rickard Arena. The Eagles will be proudly celebrating our generous sponsors that evening, and we hope all of our fans will join us.