Pickering out of Junior A playoffs; Clarington, Uxbridge move on to second round in Junior C

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Published March 20, 2023 at 9:08 am

Uxbridge goaltender Noah Acciaccaferri and Port Perry goalie Gavin Brandt meet in the handshake line after Uxbridge's sweep of the Lumberjacks in the first round of the playoffs. Brandt faced 55 shots in the deciding game

It’s a tale of two hockey clubs with glorious recent pasts but very different presents.

The Pickering Panthers enjoyed a near perfect 50th anniversary season in 2021-22 when they won the Buckland Cup – their first league championship since 1987 when they were a Junior B club – and were 13 minutes and seven seconds from capturing the Centennial Cup national Junior A championships last May.

This season didn’t go quite so smoothly with the team eliminated in five games in the opening round of the OJHL playoffs to the Milton Menace.

Pickering led a 4-0 lead slip away in game four with a chance to tie the series and it was 4s which did them in in the clincher when the Menace put up a four-spot in the second period to cruise to a 6-2 win and a berth in the second round.

The Clarington Eagles also enjoyed huge success last season in the Junior C loop, winning the league title and advancing to the provincial championship, losing the Schmaltz Cup final 3-2 to the Lakeshore Canadians.

This year the club is off to another great start, winning the Orr Division and sweeping the Lakefield Chiefs to move on to the second round of the PJHL playoffs where they will face the Georgina Ice. A win in that series could put them on a collision course with long time rival Uxbridge Bruins, who won out in the first round battle of north Durham when they swept the Port Perry Lumberjacks four straight.

Uxbridge will welcome its fans to the Bear Den at Uxbridge Arena for their second round opener Friday against the Little Britain Merchants. Clarington opens round two at home versus Georgina at the Garnet Rickard Arena Thursday.

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