Kam River Fighting Walleye general manager Kevin McCallum hooked a big fish at this year’s trade deadline when he reeled in Dayton Clarke in an inter-league trade with the Elliot Lake Red Wings.
Clarke, a hulking 20-year old forward (see photo above by Leith Dunick) was the centre piece in the exchange for Kam River, which sent three players to Elliot Lake in the deal that McCallum, as the Fighting Walleye GM, had been pursuing for several weeks prior to the early January transaction.
After scoring 12 goals in 20 regular season games in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League for Elliot Lake, Clarke brought his penchant for finding the back of the net to Kam River and the Superior International Jr. Hockey League. Clarke bagged 10 goals in 14 regular season games for the Fighting Walleye and added more two tallies (and four assists) in four outings as Kam River completed an SIJHL semi-final playoff sweep of the Thunder Bay North Stars.
McCallum, who brought Clarke to Kam River, commented about the playoff performance of the Fighting Walleye power forward.
“Dayton had an amazing series and is only gaining steam,” McCallum told Hockey News North. “We gave up a lot of assets to bring the big man in and couldn’t be happier for him and what he has brought to our club. (Elliot Lake general manager) Mark Savery with told me exactly what we were getting with Clarke and it has rang true from day one.”
While no. 1 seed Kam River did take the broom to no. 4 seed Thunder Bay in the best-of-seven SIJHL semi-final set, it wasn’t easy. After the Fighting Walleye overwhelmed the North Stars 9-0 in the series opener, the next three games were all much closer as indicated by a pair of 2-1 overtime victories for Kam River as well as a 5-2 triumph.
In the Game 4 clincher, Clarke assisted on the tieing goal by Jeremy Dunmore late in the third period and then scored the OT winner. And McCallum, who engineered the construction of a Kam River team that is in its first full season as members of the SIJHL, passed the credit around.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our organization for getting the first playoff series win in a franchise history that is just getting started. (Head coach) Matt (Valley) and the rest of the staff had the guys going. We have a versatile group and when one guy is struggling another steps up and if we can continue that and put the team first we have a chance to be successful in the league finals,” McCallum relayed to Hockey News North.
Goalie Austin Madge was a series standout for Kam River with a 4-0-0 record to go with a microscopic 0.87 goals against average and an eye-popping .978 save percentage.
The Fighting Walleye will meet the winner of the SIJHL’s other semi-final set between no. 2 seed Red Lake Miners and third ranked Dryden Ice Dogs. That series is tied 1-1 with Games 3 and 4 set for tonight and Wednesday at Dryden Memorial Arena.
The league championship series is expected to begin on April 22.
Kam River celebrates its four game sweep of Thunder Bay. (photo by Leith Dunick)