Clarington Eagles, Grimsby Peach Kings in the hunt for Ontario Junior C supremacy


Published May 4, 2022 at 11:34 am

The Hamilton Bulldogs and Mississauga Steelheads OHL second round series may represent the last local clubs still alive in major junior but it is far from the only junior hockey still being played in the Golden Horseshoe.

The Pickering Panthers are playing for the Buckland Cup with the Toronto Junior Canadiens, with the winner advancing to the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Junior A tournament and a chance at competing for a national championship at the Royal Bank Cup.

Toronto leads the series 1-0 with Game 2 Wednesday night.

The Sutherland Cup playdowns — representing Junior B – are well underway, with the Hamilton Kilty Bs and the St. Catharines Falcons facing off in a conference championship (St. Catharines leads 1-0), with the winner booking a ticket to the Sutherland Cup tournament.

And in Junior C, the Clarington Eagles and Grimsby Peach Kings have earned the right to play for the Schmalz Cup that gets underway this weekend and concludes at Guelph University the following weekend.

Clarington (16-2) and Grimsby (16-5) will be joined by the Lakeshore Canadiens (16-4) and the Stayner Siskins (16-5) in the round-robin tournament.

The unique format of the tournament has each team playing one home and one road game before the tournament moves to Guelph for the final preliminary game, followed by the semifinal and final.

On Saturday Clarington visits Stayner and Lakeshore is at Grimsby. The following night Grimsby is at Bowmanville to play the Eagles and Stayner visits the Canadiens in Belle River.

Dawson McKinney of Clarington leads all scorers with 33 points in the playoffs, three ahead of Trevor Larue of Lakeshore. Mitchell Doyle (4-20-24) will supply the offence for the Eagles from the back end while Alex Lepizzera, who has posted a 1.69 GAA with a .947 save percentage and four shutouts, has starred between the pipes.

Stayner’s goalkeeper Cameron Hansen, meanwhile, has not lost in regulation, while Grimsby has a balanced attack with two players with plus-20 points this spring. Considering Grimsby has won four Schmaltz Cups this century alone (five in total), it is never wise to count out the Peach Kings.

Clarington has won two Schmaltz Cups (as the Bowmanville Eagles) in 1979 and 1981 and Lakeshore (then called Belle River) were champions in 1985, 1992, 1994 and 1995.

Stayner has yet to be crowned champion.

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