If you have been following the AJHL for quite some time, you know that everytime your team goes up against the Brooks Bandits, you”™re in a for big challenge.
On Tuesday night, the Eagles were host to the Bandits and their league”™s best record of 43-5-1. Despite a good effort from the Eagles, it wasn”™t enough as the Bandits skated away from the Canmore Recreation Centre ice with a 6-2 victory.
“We played pretty well. I liked that our group pushed till the end. We competed right to the final buzzer” says Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne.
The Bandits score the first four goals of the game with two in each of the first two periods to take a commanding 4-0 lead at the second intermission. It was Zach Bookman, Ryan McAllister, Boston Buckberger and TJ Hughes who got the goals. All at even strength.
The Eagles got on the board in the third as Captain Lane Paddison who was playing in only his second game back since returning from a broken finger that kept him out of the lineup for two months, scored on the power play at 7:40 for his fourth goal of the season. Kyle Young drew the assist.
“It was huge was Paddy to score” says Coach Milne. “He still not 100%, but that goal will help his confidence”.
The Eagles then cut the Bandits”™ lead in half as 20 year-old Defenceman Zach Cunningham scored his fourth of the campaign with Vincent Scott and Mitch Watson assisting at 12:31. But it was as close as the Eagles would get, as Ryan McAllister who leads the AJHL in points with 110 scored two more goals to complete the hat trick. The final shots on goal were 56-22 for Brooks. Andrei Proctor-Ramirez got the start and made 50 saves, including many great ones to keep his team in the game.
Despite the Eagles”™ loss, the number of points separating the Eagles from the Okotoks Oilers and the Blackfalds Bulldogs remain the same. Blackfalds were idle, while the Oilers lost to the last place Olds Grizzlys 3-1, which the Eagles are still seven points back of Oilers for fourth   Place and the final spot for home ice advantage and are also still four points up on Blackfalds.
The Eagles are back in action this weekend as they host a pair of North Division teams. On Friday night, it”™s the Lloydminster Bobcasts (25-21-2) coming to town, while on Saturday night, it will the North Division”™s top team, the Spruce Grove Saints (36-9-5). The Eagles defeated the Saints 5-3 in Spruce Grove recently, on January 22nd. Puck drop for both games is 7 pm.
After this weekend”™s pair of games, the Eagles will only have 6 more games to play in the regular season, including two at the Canmore Rec Centre.