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.
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