Eagles bedevil Saints: score first win of AJHL season

Eagles bedevil Saints: score first win of AJHL season

The Canmore Eagles’ defence might be something special. Just ask the Spruce Grove Saints, a perennial Alberta Junior Hockey League powerhouse, who fell 3-2 at the Canmore Recreation Centre on Tuesday (Sept. 26). The victory is the first for Canmore in this new season, coming in its fourth game.

Goaltender Matthew Malin made 36 saves in redeeming himself from a Sunday (Sept. 24) performance that saw him pulled in the first period after giving up four goals on nine shots in a 6-3 loss to the Calgary Canucks.

Then there was the remarkable play of returning defencemen Emanuel Hudson, Brody Tallman, Casey Black and Brody Mortensen, who stood tall from the opening face-off to the final whistle when the Saints were pressing for the game-tying goal. Rookies Carter Rimstad and Josh Missfeldt, who left the game with an apparent shoulder injury, also had shining moments in this contest.

The defence even put its stamp on the offence. Black opened the scoring 8:19 into the game. Joining the rush, he would score his first his first goal of the campaign when he redirected a Rhett Dekowny cross-crease pass.

Tallman would score his team leading third goal this season when he wired a high, hard shot from the blue line just under the crossbar with four seconds left in the second period. The Lethbridge native also assisted on Black’s goal and now leads all Eagles scorers with four points through four games. Owen Jones also has 4 points on 1 goal and 3 assists.

Rookie Zach Coutu scored his second goal of the season at 19:04 of the first period. He raced down the rightwing boards and wired a low shot far side that tucked just inside the post to give Canmore a 2-0 lead at the first break.

Hunter Bill would put Spruce Grove on the board at 2:15 of the second period. Will Brophy made it a one-goal game again at 15:29 of the third period.

That final period included a five-minute power play for the Saints when Bryson Insinger was given a major penalty for a blow to the head for his hit on Tyler Dawkins with the Canmore defence rising to the challenge and denying the visitors even one good scoring chance. A suspension is expected for the rookie forward who was celebrating turning 17 on game day.

Spruce Grove would pull its goaltender with just over 90 seconds remaining during which the Eagles defence was at its best, keeping the frustrated Saints from tying the game and forcing them to take a penalty  with some outstanding play, including several diving blocks.

Spruce Grove outshot Canmore 38-26 with Ryan De Kok in goal for the Saints.

On the power play, Canmore was 1-for-6 and Spruce Grove 1-for-5.

Canmore is now 1-2-0-1 on the season and Spruce Grove is 3-3-0-0.

Next up for both teams is the AJHL Showcase at the Max Bell Centre in Calgary. The Eagles take on the Canucks, 5 p.m. on Wednesday (Sept. 27) and the Blackfalds Bulldogs, 8 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 30).