PHOTO – Despite losing 6-2 to the Brooks Bandits last night, the Eagles finished their 2013-14 regular season with a home-ice record of 21-7-1. (Julie Wilson photo)
The Brooks Bandits came to Canmore with something to prove on Friday night and they certainly got their point across as the defending Canadian Junior A champions defeated the home town Eagles 6-2 before a season high crowd of 619 fans at the Canmore Recreation Centre.
The first-place Bandits (39-13-8), who had suffered three previous losses to the Eagles this season, came out flying and scored three unanswered goals before the game was 10 minutes old and took a commanding 4-0 lead after just one period of play.
Though the end result was probably never in doubt, the remainder of the game was played at a very high intensity level and featured 89 penalty minutes and the ejection of Bandit’s Head Coach Ryan Papaioannou.
With the loss to the Bandits, and a 3-2 victory by the Camrose Kodiaks over the Olds Grizzlys, Canmore will finish in fifth-place in the AJHL Southern Division standings and will face the fourth-place Kodiaks in the first round of the upcoming playoffs. The Kodiaks will enjoy the home-ice advantage in the best-of-five series that is expected to start later next week in Camrose.
Despite the loss, the Eagles finished their 2013-14 regular season with a record of 32-25-3, their best regular season record since 2002-03.
Connor Wilson (13 & 14th) had both Eagle goals last night, while Eagle rookie netminder Ryan Ferguson (24-14-2) took the loss stopping 24 of the 30 Bandit shots. The Bandits outshot the Eagles 30-20 on the night, including a 14-4 edge in the opening period.
“They (Bandits) really came after us in the first period and we just weren’t able to match their speed and intensity level,” said Eagle’s Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne. “They showed us why they are the defending National Junior A champions and what kind of effort it will take for us to be successful in the playoffs. When you get down 4-0 to Brooks early, it’s a very tough climb to get back in the game, but I have to give our club some credit as they didn’t back down and they didn’t quit. We battled hard right to the last minute of the game.”
NOTEBOOK: Prior to the start of last night’s game, AJHL commissioner Ryan Bartoshyk presented the league’s “Most Valuable Player” and “Top Defencemen” trophies to Canmore Eagle defenceman Trey Phillips. Phillips led the Eagles in scoring this year with 65 points (25 goals and 40 assists) and will the end the regular season as the top scoring defenceman in the entire AJHL . . The Eagles will hold their annual Award’s Dinner on Saturday night at the Canmore Golf and Curling Club . . . Congratulations to Peter Philp who won this year’s Can-Bow Motors Shoot-out competition by firing 13 of his 15 pucks into the empty net during last night’s second period intermission. Philp will now enjoy a trip for two to Las Vegas – courtesy of Can-Bow Motors. . . Playoff dates and times should be finalized in the next day or two. The Eagles will play the first two games of the best-of-five opening round series in Camrose, before returning to Canmore for Game 3, and Game 4, if necessary.