Going into Thursday’s matchup against the Calgary Canucks, the big news surrounding the team was all about the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s leading scorer and the Eagles’ own Matt Forchuk.
The 20-year announced his commitment earlier in the week to the NCAA Division 1’s Quinnipiac University located in Hamden, Connecticut.
“He’s worked so hard at it,” said Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne. “Everyone knows what he does on the ice, but off the ice he was phenomenal. The work ethic to get himself in academically was great. He’s put in a lot of work. The on-ice stuff speaks for itself, the off-ice I’m really proud how Matt did it.
“I’m just glad it’s over, because there were a lot of schools interested in Matt Forchuk,”
Forchuk said on the team’s latest road trip up north Quinnipiac came to watch and he, the team and his family sat down to talk.
“I liked everything I heard about them, what they had to say about me as a hockey player and as a student,” said Forchuk. “I felt it was the best fit and they are obviously a top-end program and school so it was a huge, huge thing for me. I am really excited to be going there.”
Forchuk will enroll in the team’s business program.
Quinnipiac sees him as a skilled forward who will play hard and someone who can set guys up on the power play but still be able to finish, which fits in with the team’s philosophy.
In dominant fashion, Forchuk helped lead the Eagles to a 6-2 victory over the South Division-leading Canucks in front of just 164 people at the Max Bell Centre.
The Eagles opened up the scoring early when Canucks’ Mark Drohan had taken a tripping penalty with it only taking Adam Tisdale 1:18 to score on a power play tally from Daly Hamilton and Coy Prevost.
“We wanted to come out with a quick goal and let them know we weren’t going to sit back,” said Milne. “It was nice to see(Colton) Young, (Bryce) Platt and (Kyle) Pauls play really well together. I thought (Daylan) Marchi, (Jake) Ashton and (Trevor) Van Steinburg were really good. I thought we played pretty well. Our goaltender (Ryan Bontorin) was good when he needed to be and our secondary scoring was awesome.”
Tisdale’s shot came from just above the faceoff circle and just was able to squeak by Canucks goaltender Logan Drackett.
It paid dividends for the Eagles, who managed to hold the Canucks off the scoresheet in the first period.
“I thought we played alright as a team,” said Forchuk. “It was good to have secondary scoring for us. It was huge tonight to come into this rink that’s really dead with not much atmosphere to it, it was good to get the win like this.”
In the second period, the Eagles continued their dominant play until they got caught flat footed on a power play. Canucks forward Brett Van Os managed to squeeze Forchuk off a puck and break into the offensive zone on a breakaway.
He made a move to freeze Bontorin, and was able to put the puck top shelf to tie the game up 10:10 into the frame.
With 50 seconds left in the period, Eagles Young managed to find a loose puck in front of Drackett and was able to squeak it past the Canucks goaltender. After feeding the Canucks a steady dose of Forchuk, Logan Ferguson and Colby Livingstone in the first frame nearly double shifting the line, the Eagles came back with their bottom six who were able to wear down the Canucks and limit them to only four shots in the frame.
Opening the third period on the penalty kill, Ferguson broke down the ice on his own shorthanded breakaway and was able to score on Drackett.
“We had gotten scored on earlier when we were on the power play, so it gives you some more jump on the penalty kill to get one back,” said Forchuk, who was creditied with the assist on Ferguson’s shorthanded goal. “I saw the opportunity was on the board and the defenceman pinched down and so I saw Fergie who has good speed and he skated onto it and shot it five hold.”
On the next offensive zone opportunity following the goal Josh Giacomin responded for the Canucks with a goal of his own to make it a one-goal game at 3-2.
With bodies flying to the net, the Eagles managed to score on a loose puck chance as Young potted his second of the night past a sprawling Drackett. More tallies from Coy Prevost and Marchi helped push the Eagles to victory.
Canmore improved to 10-6-2 on the season and moved into fourth place in the South, leapfrogging the idle Camrose Kodiaks (10-7-1). The Canucks are now 13-6-1 but still hold first place in the division.
EAGLES NEST: Scratches tonight for the Eagles were Nolan Kurylo, Jonas Gordon and Mitch Zambon… Next up for Canmore is a trip next Tuesday to visit the Okotoks Oilers… Canucks G Logan Drackett left the game after being kneed by his own player in the third period on the Eagles’s sixth goal. … The Canucks outshot the Eagles 29-28. … On the power play, the Eagles were 1-fo-6 and the Canucks were 1-for-5.
Zach Laing is a freelance journalist located in Calgary. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit also to Zach Laing