Canmore gains split in Drumheller

Photo Credit Sei Spo Inc.

Canmore gains split in Drumheller

The Canmore Eagles got what they were looking for when they opened their Alberta Junior Hockey League playoff series with the Drumheller Dragons.

Canmore, the No. 6 seed in the South Division playoffs, won the opening game 4-3 against the No. 3 Dragons in Drumheller on Friday (March 10) effectively wresting away home-ice advantage in this best-of-seven series from their higher-seed opponent. The Dragons now must win in Canmore – which they have failed to do in three previous appearances this season – to move on to the next round.

The Eagles never trailed in Friday’s game, with Kyle Young scoring just 22 seconds after the opening puck drop. Caleb Willms’s power-play marker tied the contest with 55 seconds left in the period.

A span of 67 seconds separated all the goals in the second period. Rhett Dekowny gave Canmore the lead at 13:04, with Connor Poffenroth tying it up 13 seconds later. Vincent Scott then gave the Eagles a 3-2 lead heading to the third period.

Brody Mortenson gave Canmore a two-goal cushion when the defenceman glided into the high slot and wired a low, hard wrist shot past the left pad of Dumheller goaltender Garrett Fuller. The Dragons would get back within one just 57 seconds later but that would be the end of the scoring this opening night of the playoffs.

Drumheller outshot Canmore 36-31 with Andreai Proctor-Ramirez in goal for the Eagles.

On the power play, Canmore was 0-for-1 and Drumheller was 1-for-3.

Drumheller then took Game 2 of this series, played Saturday (March 11) by a 5-1 count. While the Eagles looked in control on Friday, it was the Dragons that looked in command all night long on Saturday.

There was a ray of hope when Canmore scored first. Reed Jacobson getting credit for the goal just 5:19 into the game.

However, it was all Drumheller on their home ice the remainder of the way. Ty Daneault scored twice, with Ty Whitford, Wil Christian and Jacob Goudreau also scoring. Period scores were 1-1 and 3-1.

Drumheller outshot Canmore 33-14 with Proctor-Ramirez and Fuller in the goals again.

On the power play, Canmore was 0-for-2 and Drumheller was 2-for-6, with the Eagles taking all four minor penalties issued in the third period as the game slipped away.

The series switches to the Canmore Recreation Centre for games on Tuesday (March 13) and Wednesday (March 14). Start times are 7 p.m.

As Canmore looks to bounce back from a lack-lustre Game 2 performance, they can take heart that during the regular season the Eagles dominated Drumheller played at the Canmore Recreation Centre winning 5-4 in a shootout on Sept. 16, 8-3 on Oct. 7 and 5-1 on Dec. 21.

Game 5 of the series is set to be back in Drumheller on Friday (March 16). If necessary, Game 6 will be in Canmore on Sunday (March 18) beginning at 6 p.m. while Game 7 is scheduled for Tuesday (March 20) in Drumheller. The games at the Drumheller Memorial Arena start at 7 p.m.

In the other two South Division playoff series: No. 2 Blackfalds Bulldogs hold a 2-0 lead on the No. 7 Calgary Canucks after home ice wins of 5-2 and 10-6; the No. 4 Okotoks Oilers lead the No. 5 Camrose Kodiaks 2-0 after home victories of 3-2 and 5-3.

In the North Division: No. 2 Whitecourt Wolverines lead the No. 7 Grande Prairie Storm 2-0, with wins of 3-2 in overtime and 4-1; No. 3 Bonnyville Pontiacs and No. 6 Lloydminster Bobcats are tied 1-1 with the Bobcats winning the opener 6-2 and the Pontiacs bouncing back with a 4-0 win; No. 4 Sherwood Park Crusaders and No. 5 Fort McMurray Oil Barons are also tied at 1-1, with the Oil Barons taking the first game 4-3 but getting smashed in the following game 10-1.

All series resume Tuesday and Wednesday at the lower seed’s arena.