Article by I. Schoonderbeek/Media by C. Archer
The Clarington Eagles took advantage of special teams to defeat the Uxbridge Bruins 4-2 Thursday night at Garnet B. Rickard arena. The Eagles scored on four of seven powerplay opportunities in the game, taking advantage of some undisciplined play by their opponents from the West.
Hayes Bell opened the scoring for Clarington in the first period when Mitch Davies found him streaking down the left wing with a perfect pass in the dying seconds of a powerplay. Bell snapped the puck high over the blocker of the Uxbridge goalkeeper with a perfect shot.
The Bruins would answer back early in the second when goaltender Marc-Olivier Robert misplayed the puck on a clearing attempt. Unfortunately for the young puck stopper, a Bruins forward was close enough to be able to whack the puck into the open Clarington goal.
The Eagles would regain the lead a few minutes later with their second powerplay goal when Adam Klaas shoveled in a rebound from the top of the crease from Connor Davies and Dale Junkin.
Uxbridge would knot the score up at 2 halfway through the period. With the teams playing 4 on 4, the Bruins won a faceoff on the Clarington zone, and a redirected point shot found its way behind Robert, who had no chance of making a save on the play.
A pivotal sequence of events in the final minute of the second led to a 2-minute five on three-man advantage for Clarington. After taking a hooking penalty, Uxbridge was repeatedly thrown out of the faceoff circle and was assessed an additional delay of game penalty.
The Eagles would make them pay as the third period got underway.
Clarington would score again on the remaining man advantage 21 seconds later when Manning hit Mitch Davies with a pass into the slot from behind the Uxbridge goal.
The Bruins mounted a comeback push in the third, but were unable to solve Robert, who shut the door on any comeback attempt.
Coach Dean Baumhauer was pleased with his club’s effort. “It was a good game,” said Dean. “Uxbridge is a strong team who beat us last time, so we were fired up to play them. We got out to a really good start and got up on them early.”
“Up front I was able to play four lines, and that’s what you want,” Baumhauer continued. “There was no line that I didn’t like tonight so we didn’t have to shrink the bench. They couldn’t handle our forecheck. Mitch and Shawsy were great. When we’re getting in on the forecheck we’re a very difficult team to beat. And when we score four, we’re not going to lose many hockey games.”
Baumhauer also singled out the performance to Robert as a key to the victory. “Unlucky goal against on the first one, but after that I thought Frenchie (Robert) played great. It can be tough on a goalie when a play like that happens, but he settled right down and made the saves he needed to. He was really good on loose pucks around the crease all night.”
The Eagles defense put in a strong performance. They were forced into a five-man rotation when Jake Dupuis left the game early in the first period after a collision with a teammate and did not return.
Should Dupuis still be unable to play by Saturday, defenseman Nolan Matheson will be ready to step back into the lineup. Matheson has now served the last game of his three-game suspension resulting from a fight late in a game vs. Little Britain before Christmas.
The game marked the return of veteran defenseman Bryson Kelloway, who has been out of the lineup since late November due to injury. “It took a few shifts to get my legs going, but after awhile it felt like I’d never been gone,” said Kelloway. “It’s been tough not playing, so it felt good to be back.”
Kelloway was forced into a bigger role in his return after Dupuis’ exit and played an effective shutdown game for the Eagles. He almost got on the scoresheet with a clearing attempt that he directed toward the Bruins’ net with their goalie pulled for an extra attacker. “Oh, I wanted that one bad!” Kelloway laughed when asked about the play. “I looked up and thought I could get it over the defenseman, but I just didn’t get enough height. But that’s not what I’m out there for so I’m ok with it. We secured the win, that’s all that matters.”
The Eagles now have a commanding six-point lead atop the Orr division standings. They travel to Little Britain to take on the Merchants at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday, January 14. The next home game is January 19, when they host the North Kawartha Knights.