Barons will begin Schmalz Cup Semi-Final at home against Clarington Eagles

Junior Hockey fever is sweeping through Grey County as the Hanover Barons, the PJHL North Conference champions, prepare to take on the Clarington Eagles in the Clarence Schmalz Cup Semi-Final.

The Barons decisively defeated the Alliston Hornets in five games to clinch the Pollock Division's first conference championship since the PJHL formed in 2016-17. It's the first time a Pollock Division team has beaten a team from the Carruthers Division in a series since the Wingham Ironmen beat the Penetang Kings in 2013-14.

Barons Coach Brady Anderson reflected on the team's triumph, saying that he is satisfied with his team's performance against Alliston, though he admits "we didn't plan on winning in five, but we got off on the right foot and never looked back."

Anderson says the success is a collective effort, but took time to note goaltender Derek Hartley's play, as well as a strong defensive core anchoring the team's overall game plan.

Over the last two series, the Barons have shut down two of the top players in all of Provincial Junior Hockey. After a 101-point regular season, Mount Forest Patriots star Brody Leblanc was held to just 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists) over seven games in the Pollock Division Final. Alliston's Cole Turcotte, who had 81 points during the regular season, was held to just a single point (0 goals, 1 assist) in the North Conference Final.

For Anderson, this comes down to team defence.

"We emphasize back pressure, back pressure, back pressure. Take the time and space of those highly-skilled forwards away." Anderson said, keen to point out the contributions of defencemen Cam Angst and Jacob Duggan, who he says were stellar in shutting down both Leblanc and Turcotte.

Looking ahead to the next series, Anderson acknowledged Clarington's reputation, but remains focused on his team's own game plan. He admitted that he was unable to see Clarington play this season, outside of some footage online.

Game 1 of Hanover-Clarington is on Friday, April 26, 2024 at 7 p.m at the P&H Centre in Hanover.

Hanover and Clarington are in the final four of the PJHL Clarence Schmalz Cup tournament, a trophy named for Clarence "Tubby" Schmalz, a former administrator and commissioner that got involved in organized minor sports in Walkerton, and served as OHA President from 1969-1972. The Schmalz Cup has been awarded annually since 1938. Hanover won the Schmalz Cup for the only time in 1991, while Clarington, who has lost in the Schmalz Cup Final each of the last two seasons, has never won the trophy since entering play in 2011, although the Bowmanville Eagles, a separate team that played in Junior C from 1968-1995, won in both 1979 and 1981.

Hanover Barons vs. Clarington Eagles - Schmalz Cup Semi-Final:

Game 1: Friday, April 26 – Clarington at Hanover, 8 p.m.

Game 2: Sunday, April 28 – Hanover at Clarington, 3:25 p.m.

Game 3: Tuesday, April 30 – Clarington at Hanover, 8 p.m.

Game 4: Thursday, May 2 – Hanover at Clarington, 7:25 p.m.

Game 5: Friday, May 3 – Clarington at Hanover, 8 p.m. *

Game 6: Sunday, May 5 – Hanover at Clarington, 3:25 p.m. *

Game 7: Monday, May 6 – Clarington at Hanover, 8:00 p.m. *

*If necessary

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