PHOTO – Rookie netminder Ryan Ferguson has an early-season record of 3-2.
NEXT HOME GAMES
– THURSDAY OCT. 10 – BONNYVILLE PONTIACS – 7 PM
– SATURDAY, OCT. 12 – CALGARY MUSTANGS – 7 PM
With 11 Alberta Junior Hockey League games under their belt and an early season record of 5-6, the Canmore Eagles are gearing up for a very busy Thanksgiving weekend.
While most families will spend their weekend relaxing with family, the Eagles will be focused on three important AJHL games, including two against AJHL Southern Division rivals.
The Eagles Thanksgiving weekend starts off with a pair of home games with Canmore hosting the Bonnyville Pontiacs on Thursday, Oct 10, and the Calgary Mustangs on Saturday, Oct. 12. Canmore will then travel to Drumheller for a Sunday afternoon game (Oct. 13) against the Dragons.
With just two points separating 3rd-place from 8th-place in the tight Southern Division standings, every game is important. While early season points are critical, Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne is just as much concerned with his team’s overall development and maturity.
“It’s a big weekend coming up, time for our team to take another step forward.” said Milne, following Tuesday morning practice. “We’ve only played 11 games thus far, but I’m relatively pleased with how we’re playing our game. We have 10 rookie players on our roster, so there are always some adjustments to be made, but we are making steady progress. It’s a process – it takes time. We’ve also had a few injuries to a few of our veterans, so it has given our rookies an opportunity to play. It’s a good experience for them and adds overall depth to our lineup. ”
To date, ten Eagle rookies have made it into the regular season lineup. Brett Radford leads the team in games played with 10, while Kurt Hildebrand (9), Lane Olson (7) Ryley Risling (7), Jakob Lavoie (7), Roman Melzer (7), Brett Schimmel (6), Colton Sandboe (4) and Bryan Huck (4) round out the rookie class. As a group, they have contributed 3 goals and 13 points to the cause.
“I’m happy with our recruiting efforts during the off-season,” said Milne. “We have an exciting group of rookies this year. They bring size, skill and strength to the team – ingredients that we needed to address. The rookies have played a lot, and they are getting better every day. More importantly, they have also blended in very well with our veteran players. Overall, I think our chemistry is good.”
One other rookie who has truly stood tall is 18-year-old goaltender Ryan Ferguson. A graduate of the Calgary Royals, Ferguson has already seen action in five AJHL games for the Eagles and sports a 3-2 record. During those five games, Ferguson has emerged with a Save Percentage of .926 and Goals Against Average of 2.63. He has also been named the Eagles “Star of Game” on two occasions.
“Ryan has played extremely well for us and has certainly played a significant role in a couple of our victories,” said Milne. “None of us expected that he would see this much action by this point of the season, but he has risen to the challenge and has quickly established himself as a solid AJHL goalie.”
NOTEBOOK: Eagle forward Connor Wilson has 10 points in his last six games . . . Eagle sniper Luke Simpson leads the team with eight goals, just two shy of the AJHL league leaders.