Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Photo by C. Archer
The Clarington Eagles successfully extended their season opening win streak to eight games Thanksgiving weekend, defeating the Little Britain Merchants 7-1.
The injury depleted Eagles dressed only 14 skaters for the contest.
With plenty of ice time to go around, players are given the opportunity to show what they are capable of. The top line of Trevor Urquhart, Kyle Smith and Adam Klaas, which had already been very productive through the first seven games of the season, made sure they took full advantage of their increased
minutes. The trio combined for 12 points in Saturdays tilt, including a four-goal performance from Klaas, to power the Clarington offence.
Coach Dean Baumhauer challenged his returning players to take the next step in their development this season. Klaas appears to have taken his coach’s words to heart with 10 goals through the team’s first eight games. “He’s playing with some structure and with two good linemates,” said Dean. “He’s also
taking care of business physically. He’s a big body. He came back this summer in shape. He’s finding open spots on the ice and burying his chances and that’s huge for us.”
“When you’re playing with guys like Smitty and Urquhart they make it real easy for you,” said Klaas. “I basically go to the net and they get me the puck. They’ve played together for a while, and they’ve got such good chemistry out there. I just have to make myself available and they find me.”
With only eight forwards dressed for the game, Baumhauer and his staff had to be creative with their line combinations to fill out the forward units. For the first two periods Saturday night, Mason Simpson, a career defenseman patrolled the left wing while the team employed five bodies on the blueline. “I think I played one shift at forward in U18, and my coach at the time said that was never going to happen again,” Simpson laughed when asked about his audition up front.
The towering Simpson returned to familiar surroundings on the blueline for the third period and ended up scoring his first PJHL regular season goal on a low blast from the point that beat the Little Britain netminder through the five-hole.
“I’m proud of all the guys tonight,” said Baumhauer. “It was a big win for Webby (Oliver Webster) coming back in here to play his old team. Everybody dug in with some guys playing in situations they don’t normally find themselves in. A 7-1 win on the road with only 14 skaters…that’s good stuff. We’re only going to get healthier. We have a big game coming up against Uxbridge which will be a bigger test. Hopefully we have a couple bodies back.”
Eagles captain Mitch Davies will be back in the line-up this week after serving his one-game suspension, and big winger Jordan Shaw is inching closer to a return after being injured in a pre-season game.
Their services will likely be needed this Thursday October 12 when the second place Uxbridge Bruins come to town. The Bruins will be looking to even the score with the Eagles after Clarington spoiled their home opener last month with a 6-5 overtime victory. That overtime loss is the only blemish on the
Bruin’s record so far this season.
If you can only make it out to Rickard Arena for one game this month, this is the one you’ll want to see! Game time is 7:25 p.m.