DAN CEARNS, The Standard
SCUGOG: The Port Perry MoJacks will have to dig deep if they wish to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Clarington Eagles. The MoJacks have lost their best of seven first-round series in the first three games. One more loss would mean elimination from the playoffs for them.
Port Perry was shut out in their first game of the series, held at Scugog Arena on Wednesday, March 9th.
Before the puck was dropped to begin the first period, the MoJacks showed their support for Ukraine by playing the country’s national anthem.
The Eagles controlled the game offensively, outshooting the MoJacks 62 to 15. No goals were scored until the second period. In that frame, the Eagles struck twice, putting Port Perry down 2-0. The Eagles would later seal their victory with a third-period goal, and the MoJacks lost Game one by a score of 3-0.
However, the MoJacks found a way to score in game two of the series on Thursday, March 10th, at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex. Less than three minutes into the first period, Eagles shot beat goaltender Sam Moncada to give Clarington the lead. But, about six minutes later, Rudy Heezen scored Port Perry’s first goal of the series, tying the game 1-1. The Eagles added a goal late in the period, and the MoJacks trailed 2-1 heading into the first intermission.
Five and a half minutes into the second period, the Eagles extended the deficit to 3-1 with a goal. Over five minutes later, the MoJacks responded with a goal from Justin Jacobs to pull them closer.
The Eagles scored less than three minutes into the third period to restore their two-goal lead. Halfway through the period, Heezen scored his second goal of the game, making it 4-3. But that was as close as Port Perry would get, losing the second game of the series 4-3.
But, despite the urgency of trying to get back into the series, Game three, held on Sunday, March 13th, was nowhere near as close as Game two.
Before the start of the game, the MoJacks held a ceremony to honour former players Spencer Robinson, Owen Hurtibese, Corey Kuypers and Carter Thornton.
Nearly halfway through the first period, the Eagles would score the only goal of the period, making it a 1-0 game.
A minute and a half into the second period, the Eagles would capitalize on a power play, increasing Port Perry’s deficit to 2-0. Five and a half minutes later, the Eagles scored on Moncada again, making it a 3-0 game. Thirty seconds later, though, Jacobs took advantage of a Jeremy Poulin rebound to score his second goal of the series.
After the Eagles extended their lead to 4-1 early in the third period, penalty trouble started to haunt the MoJacks. The Eagles struck for three power-play goals in the period, and the MoJacks lost 7-1. When the game was 6-1, the MoJacks made a goaltending change to bring Gavin Bradt to the crease.
The game also saw multiple fights, with Jack Davis and Jake Weatherall among those getting involved in fisticuffs with Eagles players. The game left MoJacks general manager Tom Parish shaking his head.
“We battled really hard, and we just need to be better at handling the adversity, taking opportunities when they come to us and staying out of the penalty box. It’s just disappointing to have a game that we could have easily won and not be able to just because we spend too much time in the penalty box. It’s a chore to keep everybody happy and not frustrated when there are some calls sometimes that don’t go our way that we thought should have [gone our way],” he said.
The MoJacks played Game four in Clarington on Tuesday, March 15th (past The Standard’s press deadline).
If Port Perry wins Game four, then Game five will be held on Thursday, March 17th in Clarington at 7:20 p.m.