Eagles begin new season with overtime win
It was the veterans that produced the win but it was an all-rookie forward line that made an opening night splash as the Canmore Eagles skated to a 3-2 win over the Olds Grizzlys on Friday night.
As all 16 teams in the Alberta Junior Hockey League began their 2021-22 campaign, the Eagles recorded an overtime victory over the hometown Grizzlys. Zach Cunningham scored the game winner at 3:52 of the 3-on-3 session as he worked with new captain Lane Paddison to give the Eagles the win.
The game-winning play started with Gardiner delaying a pass before finding Cunningham, who bumped the puck to Paddison. The Eagles”™ captain then took a shot that found the pad of Grizzlys”™ goaltender Tristan Martin with the rebound skipping to Cunningham”™s stick, who had an uncontested shot for the game winner.
Before the season opener, Paddison was announced as the Eagles”™ captain with Cunningham, Gardiner and Mitchell Watson being named assistant captains.
While the new leaders of the team came through with the game winner it was an all-rookie forward line that got them to overtime as Riley Dekowny scored two goals with Kayden Smith earning two assists and Kyle Young one helper.
Dekowny opened the scoring at 2:18 of the first period. He then scored the goal that would send the game to overtime at 8:57 of the third period.
Olds scored two power-play goals in the first period, from Lowie Vreys and Noah Hackett.
The Eagles starting lines for the game also featured: Paddison centring veteran Watson on the left wing and rookie Braden Plaschewsky on right wing; Ethan Schaeffer in the middle of Carter Myrol and Isaac Suppin; Maguire Smyth centring Nahan Ellis and Sam McPeak.
The blue line pairings included: Cunningham with Emanuel Hudson; Gardiner with Cale Lyons; Dylan Bidyk with Borys Protsenko.
While it was a junior unveiling for a majority of the players ““ Olds has just two veterans to start this season — it also featured the coaching debut of Bryan Arneson and Kyle McLaughlin for the Eagles.
Arneson, a former Eagle (2012-2014) who would go on to play at the Canadian university and minor professional levels, joined the team as an assistant coach this season. Both Arneson and McLaughlin will fill the roles in the absence of the suspended Andrew Milne.
“It feels fantastic,” Arneson said of the opening night win. “The guys came together and played really well.
“At times they made it easy for us [which includes new assistant coach Kyle McLaughlin] and there were times we had to be hard on them “¦ but they held themselves accountable,”
Milne, the long-serving general manager and head coach, was suspended 15 games by the AJHL executive committee last winter for his Covid-19 comments after a team outbreak during the league”™s short period of play. Milne will not be eligible to return to the bench until Oct. 31.
Olds outshot Canmore 41-38 with rookie Andreai Proctor-Ramirez in goal for the Eagles.
Backing up Proctor-Ramirez was American-born and 2003-born Matthew Malin, who played for the San Jose Junior Sharks the past two winters and is attending Northern Alberta Hockey Academy this fall where he has a two wins and one loss record in the Canadian Sports School Hockey League, with a 2.67 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage.
Olds went 2-for-3 on the power play, while Canmore was 0-for-4.
The team released one of its 20-year-olds (2001-born), Tye Carriere to the expansion Blackfalds Bulldogs. Carriere played two seasons with the Western Hockey League”™s Calgary Hitmen before joining the Eagles midway through the 2019-20 season. The Red Deer-native had an injury filled time in Canmore, featuring in just eight games, did not suit up for any contests last season, and was unable to attend training camp this fall.
EAGLES NEST: The game also featured the debut of athletic therapist Rebecca Kuresh. “¦ Not dressing were goaltender Devin Chapman, caught up in the numbers game when it came to 20-year-olds as AJHL teams are allowed to dress just six per game, and rookies Jack McKeown and Banff-native Max Monette. “¦ Next up for the Canmore Eagles is their home opener on Saturday against the Calgary Canucks, who began the season with an 8-2 loss to the Drumheller Dragons. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Recreation Centre. Game tickets are available online at canmoreagles.com.