NEXT GAME – Thursday, January 3 in Calgary against the Canucks
NEXT HOME GAME – Saturday, January 5 versus the Olds Grizzlys
The Canmore Eagles currently sit in seventh-place, and the last playoff position, in the Alberta Junior Hockey League Southern Division standings with a record of 12-19-5 and 29 points.
The Eagles won their last two games before the Christmas break and suddenly find themselves just four points back of the fifth-place Calgary Mustangs and Olds Grizzlys, who each have 33 points. The Eagles enjoy five games in hand on Olds, and four games in hand on the Mustangs.
Canmore will kick off their 2013 schedule with three critical games against Southern Division rivals including the Calgary Canucks, Olds Grizzlys and Calgary Mustangs. With just five points separating all four clubs at the Christmas break, getting off to a good start in 2013 against these teams will be critical in the Eagle’s overall quest for a playoff spot.
Canmore has just 24 regular season games remaining on their 2012-13 schedule, 12 at home and 12 on the road.
The Eagle’s remaining home schedule consists of five Saturday nights, four Tuesdays, two Fridays, and an afternoon game on the Family Day Holiday Monday on February 18th.
In their 17 home games played to date, the Eagles have a record 8 wins, 6 losses and 3 Overtime losses.
Canmore has just two overnight road trips left on their schedule as they play a single game in Fort McMurray on Sat. Jan. 19, and travel to Camrose for a double-header weekend on Feb 1 and 2. They are finished with the “3 games in 2.5 days” road trip excursions.
Canmore will conclude their regular season with five of their last six games scheduled for the Canmore Recreation Centre.
The Eagles still have four games left to play against the 35-1 Brooks Bandits, including two in the final week of the season.
Since the trading of Connor Hoekstra to Spruce Grove on November 22, the Eagles now find themselves with four new players in their locker room. Defenceman Mattio Bartolotto, and forward Bryan Arneson, came from Spruce Grove, while forward Austen Hebert was acquired from Flin Flon. The Eagles have also welcomed back Alex Bechtold to the lineup after the promising rookie missed the first 35 games due to a broken ankle suffered in the season opener on Sept. 8. With the addition of Arneson (5’11 – 180 lbs), Hebert (6’1 – 182 lbs), and Bechtold (6’1- 206 lbs) up front, the Eagles are suddenly a much bigger and tougher hockey club.
Only six Eagles have suited up for all 36 games thus far. The list includes captain Riley Point, assistant captain Ciaron Driscoll, Luke Simpson, Johnny Stevens, Trey Phillips, and rookie Connor Wilson.
With the exception of Canmore native Nils Moser (broken ankle), the Eagles are hoping to have several of their injured players back in their lineup when they reconvene for their first practice on Jan. 1. There is the potential of getting four players back into the lineup fairly quickly including forwards Simon Philp (hip) and Jordon Revie (shoulder), defenceman Nickolas Kozman (forearm) and goaltender Ty Swabb (high ankle sprain). The addition of these four players would provide the club plenty of depth as they approach the stretch run of the AJHL season.
Fourth-year forward Steven Phee is quietly enjoying a superb season as he leads the Eagles in goal scoring with 17 goals. This matches Phee’s goal-scoring total for the entire 2011-2012 season. Phee is also riding a four-game point streak.
Third-year defenceman Trey Phillips is also finding his offensive mojo this season as the 19-year-old speedster has 17 points this season, 10 more than his total of 2011-2012. Phillips has 10 points in his last 16 games.
When the Eagles open their 2013 home schedule against the Olds Grizzlys on Saturday, January 5th, Canmore fans will see the debut of the Eagle’s new dark sweaters. As per the AJHL mandate, all teams will switch their home and away sweater colours in the New Year. Home teams will now wear their dark colours, while the visitors will wear white.
Through 36 games, the Eagles have allowed a league-leading 10 short-handed goals. Conversely, the Eagles have not scored a short-handed goal.
The Eagles have certainly shown that they can be contenders as they have already defeated all four of the top teams from the Northern Division, including the Spruce Grove Saints (24-9-6), Grande Prairie Storm (24-11-2), Whitecourt Wolverines (19-11-8), and the Bonnyville Pontiacs (20-12-8).
PHOTO – Steven Phee leads the Eagles in scoring with 17 goals. (photo courtesy of Julie Wilson)