Tuesday, October 9, 2012 – As the Canmore Eagles prepare for their next home game on Friday, October 12 against the Lloydminster Bobcats, one has to be impressed with the progress the team has made during their first 10 games of the 2012-2013 Alberta Junior Hockey League season.
Compared to one year ago, the Canmore Eagles are off to a much superior start to their season. Here are their stats compared to one year ago:
Team Record 4-3-3 1-9
Points in Standings 11 2
Total Goals Scored 25 20
Total Goals Against 31 43
DIFFER -6 -23
Place in Standings 5th 8th
Home attendance after 4 Games 1,786 1,494
Average Home Attendance 447 373
Power Play Goals 11 for 62 6 for 58
Power Play Percentage 17.74% 10.34%
Penalty Killing Goals Against 8 out of 44 13 out of 47
Penalty Killing Percentage 81.82% 72.35%
“We’ve managed to get points in seven of our first ten games, so yes I am very happy with our progress to date,’ said Eagle’s Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne. “We’ve played some good hockey thus far. We haven’t lost a game in regulation at home (3-0-1), we’ve won a road game in Calgary and gotten a point in both Olds and Okotoks thus far. If we’d had even a little bit of luck in any of our 3 overtime losses, we’d have more points and could be in second-place in the Southern Division standings.”
One area that Milne is particularly pleased with thus far is the play of his defence.
“We’ve cut down our goals against significantly and we are finally capable of playing shut-down hockey if we need to,” said Milne, whose team has allowed 12 less goals throughout the first 10 games. “Our goaltending has been very strong and the defence is playing a very consistent game this year. If the D-men do pinch and make a mistake, the goaltenders have been there to help them out.”
Milne is also quick to point out that the addition of assistant coach/GM Jeremy Reich has been very beneficial to both the players and to his own well-being.
“Jeremy has been a huge asset to both me and the players,” said Milne. “He has certainly increased the amount of communication between the players and the coaching staff and has allowed me some freedom to concentrate on other hockey matters. His influence on the team’s progress to date can’t be under-estimated. It’s great to have another full-time coach available for the players to work with.”
As the Eagles prepare for their next ten games, Milne is hoping his offensive players can kick it into high gear and start producing a few more goals.
“We’ve had our opportunities to put teams away, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to score that extra goal when we really needed it,” said Milne. “We have a few rookie players that will only get better as the season progresses. They just need to get used to the speed and pace of the AJHL, and when they do, they will start to contribute as well.”
Following the Eagle’s home game on October 12 against Lloydminster, Canmore fans will get to see the nation’s #1 team when the Brooks Bandits pay a visit on Tuesday, October 16.
The Bandits are the class of the AJHL, sporting a perfect 9-0 record, scoring 51 goals and allowing just 23 in the process. The Bandit’s power play has contributed 22 goals in 59 power play opportunities.
“Brooks is the defending champions and we will certainly have our hands full for that game,” admitted Milne. “They will certainly be a good measuring stick to see how much we have progressed this season. But we have to worry about the Lloydminster game first, and then we’ll concentrate on a strategy to deal with the Bandits.”
NOTEBOOK: The Canmore Minor Hockey Association will be holding a pre-game BBQ before Friday night's Canmore Eagle – Lloydminster Bobcat Alberta Junior Hockey League game at the Canmore Recreation Centre.
The BBQ, feauring smokies/hot dogs and pop, will run from 6-6:45 with all donations going to the local Kids Sport program.
Game time is 7 pm.