Article by I. Schoonderbeek
The Clarington Eagles scored early and often Thursday evening, defeating the Uxbridge Bruins 7-3 in a gritty battle. The victory evened the season series between the Durham Region PJHL rivals at three wins apiece.
Fans were still making their way into the building when Clarington opened the scoring just 19 seconds into the contest on a goal by Adam Klaas. However, just 24 seconds later the Bruins pulled even with a goal of their own.
Ryan Hall restored the Clarington lead with a one-timer from Trevor Urquhart on the powerplay halfway through the opening period. But a late Uxbridge powerplay goal of their own would send the teams to the dressing rooms tied up at 2-2.
Clarington broke the game open in the second, scoring three times in the first six minutes on markers from Liam O’Dette, Cole Williamson, and Hall with his second of the evening. The Bruins would get one back late in the period on a 5-on-3 man advantage with Ethan Schoonderbeek and Hall in the box for the Eagles.
The third period was all Clarington. The Eagles held the Bruins to only three shots in the frame while adding two more goals from Hall, his third of the game and Kyle Shepherd.
“I probably haven’t had a hat trick since I was in PeeWee,” said Hall with a sheepish grin after the game. “We’ve notched up the physical play since the trade deadline. We picked up a few guys that have added some strength and grit to our team. It really lit a fire under everybody else’s asses! Everybody is playing hard and strong. Uxbridge is a good team, but we were playing our game tonight.”
While noting it wasn’t a perfect effort, coach Dean Baumhauer was obviously pleased with the outcome. “The first period was kind of sloppy,” said Dean. “We scored a couple goals but then we let them back in it. We dominated the second but gave them an opportunity to get back in it with a bunch of penalties. Our penalty kill did a good job only allowing a couple. The concern is our older guys were the ones going to the box. You can’t be taking those type of penalties. That’s a work-in-progress because it’s going to bite us in the playoffs. When we’re in the box for half a period and some guys don’t play PK, they’re sitting on the bench too long with their legs going dead.”
Baumhauer noted his club pulled it together in the third period. “In the third period, we shut them right down. We kept our composure when they didn’t. So that was mission accomplished in the first test of a tough week with Georgina waiting for us tomorrow. Overall, a good win.”
It was another big game for a Clarington defense that not only had a lot of penalty kill time, but also drove the offence from the back end, contributing five of the 7 goals on the evening. Of course, none of those five goals go in without the heavy traffic created in front of the net by the Eagles forward group.
Deadline pickup Joe Boice picked up an assist on the evening and has consistently drawn praise from the Eagles coaching staff for his play. “Boice’s value to our team isn’t on the scoresheet,” said Baumhauer. “He’s heavy on pucks, he wins puck battles, he protects pucks, and he creates room for his teammates. Everybody on our bench plays a little bit bigger with Joe in the lineup.”
While he’s built a little differently than the much larger Boice, Liam O’Dette also caught his coach’s attention in his second game as an Eagle. “O’Dette was causing disturbances all over the ice all night,” said Dean.
The Eagles will quickly have to turn their attention to the second place Georgina Ice on Friday. While eight points currently separate the two clubs in the Orr Division standings, Georgina has three games in hand. A victory over the Eagles Friday night would potentially put the Ice in a position to catch Clarington once they’ve caught up in games played. Georgina has won the past two contests between the clubs.