Clarington Eagles drop Schmalz Cup final to Wellesley Applejacks

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Published May 15, 2023 at 8:59 am

Clarington Eagle players after Sunday's 3-2 loss in the Schmalz Cup final

So close and yet so far once again for the Clarington Eagles, who reached the Ontario Junior ‘C’ championship final for the second year in a row, only to lose 3-2 in the final for the second consecutive year, this time Sunday afternoon in Woodstock to the Wellesley Applejacks.

Last year’s loss in the Schmalz Cup final was in heartbreaking overtime fashion, while the 2023 version was less dramatic but no more painful for the Bowmanville club, who ran away with the league and then posted a perfect 16-0 record to reach the Schmalz Cup tournament.

Wellesley, who beat Clarington in the opening round-robin game of the tournament, was the only team to defeat the Eagles in this year’s playoffs.

Clarington vs Stayner in Saturday’s semi-final

Clarington got back to their winning ways after last weekend’s 7-5 loss to the Applejacks with a 4-1 win over Stayner when the tournament shifted to Woodstock’s Southwood Arena, followed by a 4-0 blanking of last year’s champs, the Lakeshore Canadiens.

That set up a semi-final match against Stayner and after trailing 1-0 through two periods the Eagles booked their ticket to the final with a pair of third period goals from Mitch Davis and Jordan Shaw – with captain Dawson Manning getting the primary assists on both – to win 2-1.

Wellesley, also 2-1 in the round-robin, took out Lakeshore 3-2 in overtime to reach the final.

Wellesley struck first in Sunday’s Schmalz Cup final on a goal by Isiah Katsube 1:24 into the second period. Adam Klaas tied it for the Eagles exactly 14 minutes later, but the Applejacks regained the lead before the period was out on a Carson Wickle tally and made it 3-1 early in the third on a wrist shot from just inside the blueline by Connor Doerbecker.

Wellesley then survived a furious Clarington rally, with Owen Manarin cutting the deficit to one with just over six-and-a-half minutes to go.

There was a bit of an ugly finish to the match, with Clarington wracking up 27 minutes in penalties in the dying seconds, including misconducts to Manarin and Brady Darrach.

Clarington netminder Marc-Olivier Robert was outstanding between the pipes for the Eagles throuout the playoffs while Wellesley was backstopped by 16 year-old Oshawa Generals prospect Noah Bender, who finished the playoffs with a 17-4-1 record, a 2.47 average and a sparkling .920 save per centage and was named PJHL Playoff MVP.

2023 Schmalz Cup champion Wellesley Applejacks

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