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.