Nolan Steer scored two goals for the second game in a row as the Canmore Eagles defeated the Calgary Canucks 5-4 at the Max Bell Centre, Tuesday (Oct. 3).
Thomas Davis stopped 34 shots in the victory, as head coach and general manager Andrew Milne described it as a character win for his young team.
“We got off to a good start and gave ourselves a chance to win. We took a couple of stupid penalties in the third, but like I tell the guys, we bend but we don’t break. This is a game we can grow and build from, and we did great,” Milne said.
Veterans Coy Prevost, Travis Verveda, Jarell Pinchuk and Trevor Van Steinburg managed to hold back the Canucks as they pressed in the third, while Colton Young and Daly Hamilton battled through.
“Colton Young is a guy we are relying on a lot. He’s probably a guy who will play big minutes for us this year. His faceoffs weren’t great (Tuesday), but he’ll get better on that. Hamilton battled for us, and did a good job controlling things on the back end,” Milne said.
The Eagles exploded for three goals in the first period, with Alex Young opening scoring five minutes in. Steer notched his first of the game a minute and a half later, while Verveda found the back of the net on the powerplay to leave the Canucks reeling. Calgary struck back with a late goal in the first, but two minutes into the second, Jake Ashton scored to re-establish the three-goal lead at 4-1.
Milne said Ashton’s game has been excellent of late. The crafty centre has three goals in the past five games after coming back from knee surgery. “He’s been a total professional for us, and he’s getting rewarded. We knew he could score goals – he’s done that at every level, and now he’s on pace for a good season.”
The Canucks stormed the Eagles’ zone in the third, and peppered Davis, beating him twice on the powerplay to knot the game at 4-4. Steer then came to the rescue in the third with the game winner.
Steer is one of the Eagles’ smallest players at 150lbs, but is proving he can be effective.
“He’s definitely a small player, but he’s smart. We saw that when he played midget. He sees the ice well, and computes the game. He’s not winning many strength battles, but he tracks the puck so well,” Milne said.
Milne said the defence is now moving the puck with greater urgency, which is powering the offence. They will need sharpshooters to keep firing with back to back home games against the Canucks and Calgary Mustangs Friday (Oct. 6) and Saturday (Oct. 7) at Alex Kaleta Arena. Milne said there is a chance Davis will start both games. The puck drops at 7 p.m.
“Thomas is always better in back to back nights, and that might get Thomas back to playing the way he was at the start of the year. He’s struggled a bit the last two games,” Milne said. “These aren’t the old Calgary teams. We have to work for our points this weekend.”
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