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Clarke gets his second chance

With a new team and a new opportunity, Oakville Blades co-captain Sean Clarke wants to to erase the memories of 2023 at the Centennial Cup

Jason La Rose
|
February 29, 2024

When Scott McCrory began building the team that would host the 2024 Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons, the Oakville Blades head coach and general manager went looking for veteran leadership.

It didn’t take him long to find Sean Clarke.

The Mississauga native was one of the first acquisitions of the new season, coming over from the Collingwood Blues in early July to bolster a lineup that was the youngest in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) last season.

McCrory was tipped off by associate coach Jason Ward, whose son Eric played AAA hockey with Clarke with the Vaughan Kings. Ward would occasionally drive Clarke to practice and Clarke’s mother Shellie served as team manager, so he knew just what type of player and person the Blades were getting.

“He’s a character kid, comes from a great family, and he’s a leader,” McCrory says of the 21-year-old. “He’s a fireball, tenacious on the puck and his forecheck is real good.”

Perhaps most importantly, Clarke has big-game experience. He helped Collingwood win the OJHL championship a year ago and make a run to the quarterfinals of the Centennial Cup, chipping in with an assist in five games on the national stage.

Now he has another shot at glory with the Blades.

“On the ice, off the ice, it's all about consistency,” Clarke says of what it will take to be successful. “You can't win in the playoffs if you're not consistent. It's all the little details that will lead you to your end goal.

“And you have to have belief. There has to be belief in your locker room in a common goal, which is to win. If you have guys going on their own path, it won't work. But if everyone's pulling in the same direction, things will go well.”

Wearing the ‘C’ with the Blades this season (he is actually co-captain alongside goaltender Gavin McCarthy), Clarke has been terrific – he sits third in Oakville scoring with 48 points (12-26—48) in 49 games, more than double the 20 he recorded last year with the Blues and 11 more than his previous career high set with the North York Rangers in 2021-22.

Leader on the ice? Check. Leader in the dressing room? Check.

Now all that’s left is to finish the job at the Centennial Cup.

Clarke remembers all too well his emotions after the Blues fell 4-2 to the Ottawa Jr. Senators last May in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. It’s something that continues to motivate him.

“It's a feeling of heartbreak and let down that you carry with you,” he says. “And it's a personal vendetta that you want to achieve that goal that you weren't able to last year. To get so close but fall short, it's just a hard feeling that keeps you up for a little bit.”

The road to redemption for Clarke starts May 10 when the Blades take on the Maritime Hockey League champions in their preliminary-round opener at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex.

Tickets for the 2024 Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons, are on sale now, with 25-game tournament packages available.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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