Story courtesy of Russ Ullyot
Postmedia – Crag and Canyon
It was a bad news night beyond the score for the Canmore Eagles.
A 8-0 loss to the Brooks Bandits in the first game of its Alberta Junior Hockey League South Division semifinal was compounded by a serious looking injury to Matt Forchuk.
The 19-year-old co-leading scorer of the Eagles during the regular season and their leading playoff points man with six (3G-3A) took a shot off the leg midway through the opening period. He limped off the ice and did not return.
“He has gone to the hospital for x-rays but I don't think it's broken,” said Andrew Milne, Eagles general manager and head coach immediately after the game. “It's just precautionary. … he seems to think he'll be back (for Game 2).”
The highlights all belonged to Brooks. Nick Prkusic scored two goals for the Bandits, while Garret Hughson recorded the shutout with 18 saves.
The Bandits fired 51 shots on Eagles goaltender Ryan Bontorin.
Other goals came from Dylan McCrory, Tyrell Mappin, Logan Mick, Josh McKechney, Jesse Pereira and Parker Foo.
“We weren't very good. We didn't play the game plan we wanted to. We lost too many battles. Our puck possessions were one and done,” Milne said. “It was similar to Game 1 of the Drumheller series [Eagles lost 4-1 but would win the next three games], I didn't think we were very good. We beat ourselves a lot.”
Game 2 of the series is Saturday, 7 p.m. in Brooks. The series switches to Canmore for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Tuesday, both 7 p.m. at the Canmore Recreation Centre.
Playing before 1,334 fans at the Centennial Regional Arena, it took just 18 seconds for Brooks to score the game's first goal. McCrory moving into the slot on the rush wired a shot over Bontorin's left shoulder.
Prkusic would extend the Bandits lead at 11:21 when he pounced on a rebound and put the puck past the right pad of the Eagles' goaltender.
Brooks outshot Canmore 19-5 in the opening period and duplicated the effort in the middle frame while adding four goals to its total.
Mappin tipped in Shane Bear centring pass at 7:54.
Then just 37 seconds later, Mick found space in front of goal and redirected Landon Welykholowa's pass from the right wing corner into the goal.
Prkusic would score his second of the game during a 5-on-3 power play at 10:15, slapping the puck into the goal from the top of the right face-off dot.
McKechney made it four goals in the period at 15:14, coming down the left wing he fired a low shot, far side that Bontorin got a piece of but couldn't prevent from slipping over the line.
In the third period, Pereira at 6:21 and Foo at 19:49 completed the scoring.
Despite giving up eight goals, Bontorin had an outstanding 43-save performance and Milne confirmed he would be back between the pipes for Game 2.
“I thought Ryan played great,” Milne said. “He was competitive.”
Where the team needs to improve the head coach said is competing for the puck.
“We will address that in the morning, and make sure the players understand that,” Milne said. “Their compete level needs to be higher for sure.”
EAGLES NEST: Bandit Kyler Nachtigall needed help off the ice after a collision with Eagle Daylan Marchi. His status for Game 2 in unknown, … The Eagles had just one power play chance, midway through the third period, while Brooks was 1-for-4 with the man advantage. … Canmore scratches continue to be forwards Ryley Risling and Kyle Pauls, and defencemen Cole Noble and Brayden Biccum. … The Bandits won all three regular-season games played in Brooks outscoring Canmore 14-4. … The Bandits were 41-2 when scoring the first goal during the regular season.