PHOTO: Ryley Risling had a pair of goals, his 14 &15th of the season, but it wasn't enough as the Eagles lost 6-4 to the Okotos Oilers on Wednesday night. Photo courtesy of Julie Wilson


By Russ Ullyot

Courtesy of the Crag and Canyon-  Sunmedia

Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 – The Canmore Eagles were a breath of fresh air for two home games last week but on Wednesday served up a stinker on home ice and it cost them.

The Okotoks Oilers received goal support from six different players en route to a 6-4 victory in an Alberta Junior Hockey League game before 491 fans.

Saddled with much of the disappointment is Eagles goaltender Ryan Ferguson, who certainly would wish a do-over on a few shots he faced but when he did provide the saves his teammates failed to come up with a game-winning display at the other end of the ice until it was too late.

The sophomore goaltender was making his ninth consecutive start, and sixth in the last 13 days, as rookie backup Levi Nelson continues to recover from an ankle injury suffered on Oct. 25.

Canmore did close to within one goal with two late third-period markers but were denied a chance to tie as Okotoks put the win away with an empty net goal.

“It was too little, too late,” head coach Andrew Milne said. “We know we can play with this team … we showed that in the third period.

“We have to get 60 minutes out of the guys: not 40; not 20.”

Okotoks goals from Darian Henry, Carson Beers, Kevin Jenken, Matt McNair, Stephen Doane and Tanner Ockey.

Ryley Risling scored twice for Canmore, with the other goals coming from Kyle Pauls and Matt Forchuk.

Ferguson and Okotoks goaltender Riley Morris each finished the night with 29 saves.

The game was in stark contrast to the last time these two teams met in Canmore, Sept. 23, when the Eagles posted a 5-2 victory.

Okotoks scored on the first shot of the game just 45 seconds into the contest. Henry slapped a shot at the net from the right boards hash marks with the puck striking Ferguson and deflecting over his left shoulder into the goal.

It was Henry’s first goal in the AJHL. The 20-year-old, from Strathmore, was acquired from the Alberni Valley Bulldogs of the B.C. Hockey League on Friday for Drew Weich.

Pauls got the goal back for Canmore with a “spin-a-rama” move, pouncing on a loose puck in front of the Okotoks goal and twirling 180 degrees and shoveling the biscuit into the open goal.

“The puck just came to the net and I saw it. I just tried to shoot it,” said Pauls.

It was 18-year-old’s third goal of the season. The hometown product scored two goals in each of his previous two seasons with the Eagles, who with an assist later in the game would reach 10 points on the season for the first time.

“This year, I am out of school. I am playing with a little more confidence and getting more ice time,” said Pauls.

Milne said the swift forward has taken time to develop but is shown the ability to play at this level when he applies himself.

“Kyle is an interesting dynamic. He plays so hard and then doesn’t go after it the next shift, so it’s frustrating” Milne said. “But when he goes he can be a player at this level. His skating is phenomenal.”

It was pretty much all Oilers the remainder of the period, although the shot clock only gave the visitors a 15-11 advantage but it also showed them leading 3-1.

Beers scored at 7:11. It was another shot that Ferguson got a piece of but not enough to keep it from entering the goal.

Then with just under two minutes left in the period, Jenken was left unmarked to Ferguson’s left and he corralled a rebound, which only needed a puch across the goal line.

“That is what made it frustrating,” Milne said about seeing a couple of soft goals go in during the period. “A soft one goes in and our guys are questioning it. They are thinking about it. It’s up to those guys to get in a position where they create energy. It’s something we have to find a way to do. We didn’t do it until the third.”

While offence was free-flowing in the first period, it took almost four minutes for the first shot on goal in the second period and six minutes before the Eagles finally got a shot on Morris. Both teams would finish the period with 10 shots with the Oilers outscoring the Eagles 2-1 for a 5-2 lead through 40 minutes.

The Oilers extended their lead to 4-1 when McNair’s long shot, which never left the ice, beat Ferguson on his stick side at 7:33.

Doane’s first goal of the season would make it 5-1 when he broke down the right side and his low wrister beat Ferguson far side, careening in off the inside of the goaltender’s right arm at 13:53.

Risling pulled one back with 2:04 left in the period. The Eagles leading goal scorer combined with Pauls to steal he puck in front of the Oilers’ goal and a couple of bounces later the sharp shooter tucked a nifty shot high over Morris’ left shoulder for his 14th goal of the season.

In the third period rally, Forchuk banged home the puck for his second goal during a scramble in front of the Oilers’ goal at 17:23.

Then Risling beat Morris again, with a similar goal-scoring effort to his first goal, at 18:30 to make it a one-goal game.

While the pressure was all in the Okotoks’ end the final few minutes, Ockey put the two points on ice when his clearance from deep in the Oilers’ zone found the Eagles’ goal with 18 seconds left.

Canmore once again dropped below the .500 mark at 12 wins, 13 losses and one shootout defeat. The Eagles reside in sixth place in the South Division with 25 points.

Okotoks holds second place in the South at 20-7-2. The Oilers have 39 points.

The Eagles and Oilers meet again on Friday in Okotoks.

EAGLES NEST: The game was attended by more than 130 attendees to the Canada’s West Marketplace Trade Show going on this week in Canmore. Eagles GM/head coach Milne gave them a hockey primer during a pre-game function in the Eagles’ Lounge. … The 50/50 draw on Wednesday was worth $1,095 to the winning ticket. … Still on the injury list for the Eagles are defenceman Jakob Lavoie and Levi Nelson while rookie forward Noah Philps was a healthy scratch. … Banff Hockey Academy goaltender Joel Lepper (2-9, 5.00 goals-against average and an .884 save percentage in junior B) was the Eagles backup on Wednesday.

Oilers 6 at Eagles 4

Wednesday, Nov. 19 at Canmore

First Period

1. Okotoks: Henry (1) (McNair, Ockey) 00:45

2. Canmore: Pauls (3) (Forchuk, Mumby) 3:14

3. Okotoks: Beers (3) (Ockey, Jenken) 7:11

4. Okotoks: Jenken (2) (Beers, Dunphy) 18:21

PENALTIES – Chambers Oko, Wilson Can (roughing) 16:36.

Second Period

5. Okotoks: McNair (6) (Ockey, Jenken) 7:33

6. Okotoks: Doane (1) (Spellman, Bende) 13:53

7. Canmore: Risling (14) (Pauls) 17:56

PENALTIES – Chambers Oko, Hildebrand Can (fighting major, game misconduct) 15:29.

Third Period

8. Canmore: Forchuk (2) (Wilson, Revie) 17:23

9. Canmore: Risling 2 (15) (S. Philp, Serpico) 18:39

10. Okotoks: Ockey (8) 19:42 EN

PENALTIES – Henry Oko (roughing), Olson Can (unsportsmanlike conduct) 1:47; Schimmel Can (slashing) 2:31; Dumphy Oko (cross checking) 12:36.

Shots on goal by:

Okotoks  15 10   8 — 33

Canmore 11 10 13 — 34

Goaltenders: Okotoks – Morris (3-3). Canmore – R. Ferguson (10-13).

Power Plays: Okotoks 0 for 1; Canmore 0 for 1.

Referee: Adair. Linesmen: Nedinis, Kissner.

Attendance: 491.