DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
The Port Perry MoJacks have their backs against the wall, trailing the Port Hope Panthers three-games-to-one in the provincial quarterfinals.
The series shifted back to Port Hope for Game 5 of the best-of-seven series on Tuesday, March 29 (after The Standard's press deadline) following a 5-2 Panthers win before a raucous crowd of nearly 800 delirious fans at Scugog Arena on Easter Sunday, March 27.
“Our primary goal is to bring the series back to Port Perry on Friday night. I'd love to see another crowd like that," commented MoJacks head coach Clair Cornish.
The sides split the opening two games of the series, with the Panthers netting a pair of late goals to score a 7-6 overtime Game 1 win in Port Hope on Tuesday, March 22. Chris Polito and Connor MacEachern each scored twice for the MoJacks, with Lucas Clark and Konrad Piorkowski chipping in with singles.
On Thursday, March 24, the series moved back to Port Perry, with Kyle Schweda scoring the winning goal less than three minutes into overtime, lifting the MoJacks to a 3-2 win, and knotting the series at one-game apiece. Piorkowski opened the scoring with the lone goal of the first period, and MacEachern tied the game 2-2 at the midpoint of the third period.
On Saturday night (March 26), the Panthers rallied from a 3-2 third period deficit to down the MoJacks by a final score of 5-3, with Piorkowski, Kyle Schweda and Clark scoring for Port Perry.
Despite trailing in the series, the MoJacks' staff was encouraged by the fact that Port Perry has held the lead in each of the opening four games of the series.
"If you flip things around a little more with some luck and bounces going our way, we could be up 3-1," Cornish told The Standard. "Overall, the gameplay hasn't been much different than it was against Uxbridge or Clarington. But, Port Hope can adapt really well, and we've been chasing a little more than I'd like at times."
On Easter Sunday (March 27) afternoon, the MoJacks were looking to tie the series 2-2 when they took to the ice at Scugog Arena, and the animosity between the two clubs was evident from the opening face-off, with both teams deploying a ferocious forecheck.
The Panthers grabbed the lead almost eight minutes into the action, when Empire League MVP Dalton Lawrence took advantage of a MoJacks line change to charge down the middle and score on a blistering shot.
The MoJacks would regroup late in the opening frame, with Graham Lamers, Kyle Schweda and Clark putting great pressure on the Port Hope defence on a late powerplay. However, they couldn't find the back of the net, and the MoJacks trailed by a goal after 20 minutes of play.
The MoJacks hit the ice with renewed energy to kick off the second period, and less than five minutes into the fray, Bubba McCullough converted a great feed from MacEachern to beat the Port Hope goalie high, and knot the score at 1-1.
Just over three minutes later, with Kyle Schweda and Clark bombarding the Panthers on the powerplay, Jeff St. Pierre bulldozed his way to the net to slam home a rebound, and send the crowd into a frenzy, as the MoJacks took their first lead of the afternoon.
The bad blood continued to boil as the middle frame wore on, with multiple penalties whistled against each team. During this stretch, the MoJacks received tremendous contributions on the defensive end from Lucas Berkers, Andrew Pickering and Dan Harris, with Brett Chandler making several sensational saves between the pipes for Port Perry.
After killing off an extended 5-on-3 situation early in the third period, the MoJacks were whistled for a 'too many men on the ice' penalty, which sent Port Hope back to the powerplay, and resulted in Shawn Mackie tying the match just over a minute into the third period.
The MoJacks would continue to battle, but the Panthers were able to find the back of the net three more times, with the final goal fired into a empty net, after Chandler was pulled for an extra attacker on a powerplay with just over two minutes remaining in the game.
Following the game, Cornish noted that his charges have continued to grow their game as the season has worn on into the provincial quarterfinals, and will rely on the experience of playing with and maintaining a one-goal lead.
“We're still learning, and learning to play with one-goal leads is something that can only come from experience. And, Port Hope is a patient and poised hockey team that can play a lot of different styles, and relies on their experience in tough situations," explained Cornish. "I think we've shown that with a two-goal lead, we can effectively shut down our opponents, but we've still got some work to do when we're up by one."
- Should the MoJacks win Game 5 in Port Hope on Tuesday night, the series will return to Port Perry for Game 6, on Friday, April 1, with the action getting underway at 7:30 p.m. Check the MoJacks' web site at www.portperrymojacks.ca or on Twitter through @darrylknight or @mojackshockey for all of the latest updates on the team.
ROB DRAL The Standard
UXBRIDGE: The Uxbridge Skating Club is putting on it’s semi-annual Carnival on Sat. April 2nd!
The Carnival is a fun skating event put on by the club for the kids of the skateclub with Uxbridge Skating Club Alumni returning to put on a show along side any current members that would like to perform.
The theme for this year’s show is “Let’s Have a Party”. Hometown starlet Mackenzie Bent and her Ice Dance partner Dmitre Razgulajevs will showcase their dance just weeks after performing at the Junior Worlds!
Mackenzie and Dmitre got together as partners last spring and found quick success, winning Junior Nationals in Ice Dance, this past January and just last week placed 9th at the World Juniors in Hungary to maintain their top 10 position. Mackenzie is from the Uxbridge Skating Club and is currently attending the University of Toronto. Dmitre’s father is a Russian Olympian and shares the responsibility of coaching the pair.
There will also be several special guests and alumni performing, including: Rebecca Rogers, a Ryerson Varsity team member, who also grew up in the Uxbridge Skating Club. Another special guest is Jaqueline Smith, a member of the Meraki Synchro Skate team, who performed in Austria and finished in 3rd. They also finished 3rd in the Canadian Nationals.
Other special guests include: Josie Foster, a coach at Uxbridge Skating Club, Elizabeth Townsend, a member of the Ice Syre Synchro Team that also competed at Nationals.
The Carnival will be taking place at the Uxbridge Community Arena on April 2nd at 2pm.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children and seniors.
Darlene Suchy, President of the Uxbridge Skating Club says, “This is a great event to see the amazing local talent we have in the community. Come out and support local talent. It’s always nice for children to see that with some hard work and determination, they can make it far in whatever endeavor they choose.”
For more information visit their website at, www.uxbridgeskatingclub.com or call them at 905-852-1232.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
With a commanding three-games-to-one lead in the COJHL Cougar Cup Finals, the Port Perry MoJacks will be hoping for a little luck of the Irish on St. Patrick's Day.
The MoJacks will be looking to finish off their series with the Clarington Eagles on Thursday evening, following a dramatic 2-1 victory, in front of more than 500 delirious fans at Scugog Arena on Sunday, March 13.
Graham Lamers and Lucas Clark netted powerplay goals in the winning effort, with Brett Chandler turning aside 34 of the 35 shots fired his way between the pipes for the MoJacks.
The win came on the heels of Port Perry picking up a 6-1 beatdown in Bowmanville on Thursday night, with Kyle Schweda breaking up Clarington's shutout bid late in the game.
"Clarington showed why they won the league championship last season. They elevated their game and we didn't match them whatsoever, and we know we have to be better," MoJacks head coach Clair Cornish told The Standard following the game.
As well, MoJacks forward Lucas Clark noted that the team was missing the grit they'd played with in the first two games of the series.
“Our pace wasn't there right from the start. That gave us an edge in the first two games, and we know what we have to do," explained Clark.
The MoJacks hit the ice for Game 4 with renewed energy, playing a very physical game throughout the first period, with a thunderous hit by defenceman Matt Trudel on Clarington's Mitch Marchbank bringing the packed crowd to its feet.
Special teams were also on display throughout the early portion of the match, with both teams serving a pair of penalties in the opening 10 minutes.
With just under five minutes to play in the opening period, Clark won an offensive zone face-off back to Lucas Berkers on the blueline, and when his shot bounced off Clarington netminder Zach Wainman's pads, Graham Lamers was there to pounce on the loose puck and fire it into the net, giving the MoJacks the lead.
The back-and-forth match-up continued at a blistering pace through the second period, and the MoJacks seized a powerplay opportunity with just under nine minutes to play in the middle frame, doubling their advantage.
On the play, Clark took a pass from Dan Harris and powered into the offensive zone, beating Wainman high on the glove side, with pandemonium taking over the crowd.
Late in the frame, the Eagles were livid after an apparent goal was waved off after being kicked into the net, which had been knocked off its moorings.
The Eagles came out soaring in the third period, and with just over five minutes expired on the clock, took advantage of great puck movement in the offensive zone, drawing to within one on a goal by Ben Pitchforth.
However, despite several tense moments down the stretch, including a spectacular save by Chandler with Braden Gray wide-open in the slot and spectacular penalty killing efforts from Berkers, Ethan Ramsden, Chris Polito and Kyle Schweda the MoJacks prevailed by a final score of 2-1.
"We got a lot of miles out of a lot of guys today. That was a team effort, with guys blocking shots, making great plays, playing well without the puck, taking hits and giving hits," commented a beaming Cornish following the game.
- Game 5 of the Cougar Cup Finals is slated for Thursday, March 17, in Bowmanville, at 7:50 p.m. Should Game 6 be needed, it will be contested at Scugog Arena, on Saturday, March 19, at 7:25 p.m. Game 7, if necessary, is scheduled for 6:50 p.m., on Sunday, March 20, at the Rickard Complex in Bowmanille.
- In other OHA Junior 'C' Sweet Sixteen action from the weekend, the Port Hope Panthers wrapped up their second consecutive Empire League title, sweeping the Napanee Raiders in four-straight games. As well, the Alliston Hornets claimed their eighth Georgian Bay League championship in the past nine seasons, with a four-games-to-one victory over the Penetang Kings.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
The Port Perry MoJacks are halfway to the team's first Cougar Cup COJHL championship in five years following a pair of wins against the Clarington Eagles.
The MoJacks opened the best-of-seven series against the Eagles in Bowmanville on Thursday, March 3, posting a 4-1 victory. On Sunday, March 6, before a raucous crowd at Scugog Arena, Port Perry posted a 3-2 overtime win to take a two-games-to-none lead in the series.
“What's been working for us is that we have 20 guys believing in one another," MoJacks head coach Clair Cornish told The Standard. "The team is enjoying and embracing the challenge."
Cornish did note that the team has also had luck on their side with the team riding a 10-game win streak, including four-game series sweeps against the North Kawartha Knights and Uxbridge Bruins.
"I would be remiss to say that we haven't had some luck along the way. You don't win 10 hockey games, and three in overtime, without some kind of luck on your side," added Cornish.
Opening the series at the 'Eagle's Nest' on Thursday night, the MoJacks rode strong goaltending from Brett Chandler in the early portion of the match against the high-flying offence of the Eagles that saw Clarington steamroll through the COJHL regular season, finishing in first place with 75 points, besting the third-place MoJacks by 23 points in the table.
Although the Eagles would light the lamp first, the MoJacks battled back less than five minutes later, with Ethan Ramsden scoring to tie the game.
Port Perry would break the game open in the third period with three unaswered goals with Chris Polito and a pair from Graham Lamers proving the difference as the MoJacks scored a road win to open the series.
On Sunday, the series shifted back to Scugog Arena. Lucas Clark wasted little time giving the MoJacks the lead, netting a powerplay goal just over two minutes into the action.
Just over four minutes later, Lamers doubled the lead for the home side with his sixth goal of the postseason.
Prior to the game, Clark had told The Standard that, "we fully expect Clarington to come with a lot of energy on Sunday, and our challenge will be to battle with them and compete the way we have throughout the playoffs."
He would prove correct, as the Eagles struck back with two goals in the second, only to be stymied through the remainder of regulation, with a number of sensational saves from Chandler and outstanding plays in the defensive zone,as the game headed to overtime.
The early portion of the overtime period saw great back-and-forth play before a shot from Andrew Pickering found the back of the net near the midpoint of the extra frame to lift the MoJacks to victory.
With three players scoring in the win, Cornish noted that the team has benefitted greatly from its balanced lineup, as well as the experienced leadership of assistant coach Ken Cain.
“We're getting it done the same way we have throughout the season, with balanced scorers and depth throughout the lineup," noted Cornish. "As well, Ken has helped immensely over the past two seasons with his knowledge and experience to help us get the most out of our lineup."
- With 16 points in 10 playoff games, Kyle Schweda leads all COJHL scorers.
- As of The Standard's press time, in the Empire Junior 'C' League Championship, the Port Hope Panthers have taken a 2-0 series lead on the Napanee Raiders.
- The Cougar Cup Finals continue with Game 3, on Thursday, March 10, in Bowmanville, at 7:50 p.m. Game 4 is set for Sunday, March 13, in Port Perry, at 2:25 p.m.
DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: Port Perry native Emily Head was recently chosen as a panelist at the Toronto Sportsmen's Show.
The 21-year-old, an avid hunter and angler, joins seven other women as speakers for the Women of the Outdoors panel.
"I was so excited. I was pretty shocked to learn that I was chosen. Most girls I know have been hunting and fishing for their whole lives and I've been into it for at least the last five years,” Ms. Head said.
The panel runs for two days, Wednesday, March 16 and Thursday, March 17. Ms. Head will be speaking on the Wednesday. She said that there are two aspects of the show that she is excited about.
"One of the biggest aspects is having my parents come and hear what I have accomplished and get a great sense of the sport. As well, I'm looking forward to talking to women about what their boundaries are and showing them how to succeed." Ms. Head said that she started out fishing when she was young, during camping trips with her family.
“I remember being a kid, I had raced dirt bikes since I was five years old, my parents always took us camping every year and I would always have a fishing reel with me. I rarely caught anything during that time."
However, she only started fishing competitively last year. Ms. Head told The Standard that her most memorable competition story comes from her very first tournament with her boyfriend Alex.
“Our Pre-fish was incredible. We caught about ten fish above three pounds so we came in confident,” she said. “However, it actually ended up being a difficult day, but it was humbling."
Nowadays, Ms. Head spends the majority of the time that she is not working, on the water fishing. She said that her favourite part about fishing is just how unpredictable it can be.
She said that there are some times where you will go out fishing “not expecting to catch the biggest fish of your life” but that ending up being the case. But she added that there are also times where you will leave empty handed.
Despite being an animal lover, Ms. Head also has become a skilled hunter.
"I never would've thought I was going to hunt. If I had told my ten year-old self that I was going to hunt, I probably would've hated myself,” she said.
Last March, she took a hunting course at Buckeye Firearms and Training.
“As I got older, I got more curious. I was disgusted reading about the commercially bred animals,” Ms. Head told The Standard. “So I took a hunting course because I didn't want to be blind and ignorant about where our food comes from. I decided that my meat needed to come from the most ethical place, and that was hunting."
The Toronto Sportsmen’s Show is being held at The International Centre in Mississauga.