Where are they now? A look at the Eagles Roster.

From left to right: Vivian, Kelloway, Gaylor, Canini, Junkin, Friedrich, Dupuis, Watson.


Article by I. Schoonderbeek & N. Schoonderbeek/Photo by C. Archer

Y’all ready to go?

Following a short exhibition schedule that saw them amass a 2-1 record, the Clarington Eagles are ready to play games that matter.

The Junior C squad will kick off its 2022-23 regular season on Thursday, September 15 at home against the North Kawartha Knights. Opening faceoff is set for 7:25 at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex.

The Eagles’ roster underwent significant changes during the off-season. Head coach and general manager, Dean Baumhauer, and assistant GM, Craig Wilcox, worked hard to rebuild the roster during their short off-season.

The Eagles’ 2022-23 season-opening roster includes eleven individuals who were part of the 2021-22 Eastern Conference Championship team.

The forward group includes returning veterans, off-season acquisitions, and rookies. Returning forwards include 2021-22 playoff leading scorer Dawson Manning, third-year returnee Connor Davies, and second-year forwards Nathaniel Stirling, Owen Manarin, Jordan Shaw, Leyton Aitken, Mitchell Davies, and Hayes Bell.

Clarington’s blueline includes three returning players. Carter Watkins is back for his third season with the club, and Nolan Matheson and Ty Harris look to fill more prominent roles in their second junior seasons.

Baumhauer stressed one of the keys to this year’s success would be growth from within. “The rookies will find their way,” he said. “The key this year will be Bell, Shaw, Manarin, Mitch Davies, Aitken, Matheson, and Harris taking another step forward. They were good last year, now they have to take the next step in their development. They’re in year two of junior hockey where there’s more expected of them. They’re not rookies anymore. The league is going to know who they are and they’re going to face tougher matchups. But I do think they’re all ready to take another jump. They’re more comfortable with me as their coach and my expectations. I’m pretty black and white. If you’re playing, you’ll play. If you take a night off, you’ll lose your ice. That’s how I roll.”

Off-season acquisitions include Kolby Poulin, acquired from the Haliburton Huskies Junior A team. Second-year player Adam Klaas’s services were obtained from the Campbellford Rebels. The Eagles also brought in Owen Canini who skated in the United States Premier Hockey League last year.

The forward group is rounded out by rookies Trent Gaylor (Clarington U18 AAA) and Dale Junkin (Whitby U18 AAA).

Off-season transactions to acquire Ryan Hall from the Haliburton Huskies and Bryson Kelloway from the Port Hope Panthers bring experience to the back end. Rounding out the blue line are Jake Dupuis, whose playing rights were recently obtained from the Stouffville Spirit Junior A squad, and rookie Ethan Vivian (Clarington U18 AAA).

The crease will be manned by the young goaltending duo of Brayden Friedrich (Quinte U18 AAA) and Carter Watson (Whitby U18 AAA). Watson saw some game action with the Eagles as a call-up last season.

The team lost several key contributors from the squad that came within a goal of hoisting the Schmalz Cup. Gone are PJHL player of the year goalie Alex Lepizzera, captain Mitch Doyle, leading scorer Brent Lace and veteran defenseman Nate Baumhauer after completing their overage years. Forward Brady Darrach was traded to the Lindsay Muskies Junior A team, and defenseman Ethan Schoonderbeek left for educational pursuits.

Also leaving the nest were Jake Lemere (Port Perry Lumberjacks), Owen McKinnon (London Nationals GOJHL), Matt McCullough, Joey Cole, and Tyler Ryan (work/school commitments).

The coach is pleased with how the roster has come together. “I like the way we’re set up now with a good group of 03 and 04-born players along with our 01 and 02 groups. You don’t want to have all your players in their overage or second to last year. I think we’re set up here so that for the next few years we’re going to be competitive.”

From a coaching and team management perspective, there will be some stability for the Eagles over the next couple of years. That’s because two-year contract extensions were accepted by Baumhauer and Wilcox this spring. “I started coaching because I love the game and both my kids showed interest in playing at an early age,” said Baumhaeur at the time. “My favourite part of coaching the Eagles is coaching in my hometown, working with a great staff, owner, volunteers, but most importantly meeting new kids.”

Most of the bench staff are returning for this season, with the exception of Chris Kerr. Coach Kerr will be head coach for his son’s minor hockey team this year. Joining the team in his place will be assistant coach Jamie Showers.

Expectations are high for the club after their success last season. But Baumhauer knows things aren’t going to come easy. “We will have a target on our backs. We just won the East and nearly took home the Schmalz Cup. I think we were as good or better than the team that won. So every time we play this year, our opponents are going to bring their best effort.”

Which for the fans, should make for an entertaining season.