“Jamais 2, sans 3”. A French expression meaning something that has already happened twice can happen a 3rd time like in the playoff series between the Canmore Eagles and the Drumheller Dragons. After the 2 teams needed Overtime in the first 2 games of the series in Drumheller to decide a winner, the Eagles and the Dragons once again needed extra time to solve Game 3 Sunday afternoon at the Canmore Recreation Centre in front of 540 fans. However, unlike the first 2 games in which neither team ever lead by more than a goal, the Eagles had to claw back down 4-0 to tie the game at 4-4 to force Overtime. Unfortunately, the Eagles could not complete the big comeback, as Dragons Forward Eric Martin ended the game only 1:26 into the 1st Overtime period when he was on a 2-on-1 to give the visiting Dragons a 5-4 win and a 2 game to 1 lead in the 1st Round, Best-of-5 series.
The Eagles found themselves down 2-0 at the end of the 1st period, then they were down 4-0 just halfway through the 2nd period. The Eagles started the comeback late in the 2nd period, as team Captain Colton Young (2nd) swept a long rebound in with just 31 seconds left in the middle stanza. Daly Hamilton picked up the assist. That goal certainly gave the Eagles the momentum going into the locker room for the 2nd intermission, as Tian Rask (1st) scored at 2:24 of the 3rd period to cut the Dragons’ lead to 2. Brent Schuldhaus and Jared Bowman got the assists. Then at 9:37, Defenceman Mark Drohan (1st) fired a point shot that found the back to make it 4-3 Dragons, with Taden Rattie and Tian Rask picking up the assists. Only 14 seconds later, Taden Rattie found himself on a breakaway and he went on his backhand to Dragons’ netminder Hunter Virostek to tie the game at 4-4 and the Eagles fans were on their feet! Colton Young picked up the assist. The Eagles then had some good chances to take lead, but were unable to do so, before Eric Martin ended the game in Overtime.
“I think we dug ourselves in a hole tonight by not starting the game on time,” says Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne. “We talked about that, I think there were some emotions that were high, the nerves, the guys were a little apprehensive at the start. We didn’t start the game well, that got ourselves in a bit of a hole and after the 2nd period. After 2, I think the guys were very disappointed with where they were at and as a team we responded. I think in the 3rd period, that’s the type of team we are and the type of game we want to play and that’s the nature of this business. If you don’t start well, you don’t play a full 60, especially in the playoffs, you’re not gonna be successful. We were lacking for whatever reason maturity at the start of the game, but we picked it up and obviously we fell short in Overtime.”
Eagles 20-year-old Defenceman Jesse Sheen also spoke after the game saying, “I thought we did come out a little slow, but they were pretty hot, that was probably their best period of the series. But we stuck with it and we knew they were little on bodies, so we just kind of waited it out, they got tired and we just capitalize there.”
One area of the game that certainly hurt the Eagles in today’s game was special teams. The Dragons scored their first 2 goals on the Power Play to go 2 for 6 with the man advantage and their 4th goal was scored shorthanded. The Eagles on the other hand went 0 for 6. The Eagles who had the 3rd best Power Play in the AJHL during regular season have yet to score a goal with the man advantage in this series as they are a combined 0 for 12.
Coach Milne though gives a lot of credit to the Dragons’ Penalty Kill saying, “You have to give them a lot of credit, they’ve been doing a great job on the Penalty Kill, they’re taking away some of our options. But again, mentally, emotionally, our control wasn’t there to start. We made some bonehead plays in the first Penalty Kills and Power Plays and that put us in a bad spot. We were making plays that were uncharacteristic of what we made throughout the year and we've got to get better at that. We get dialed in, got opportunities, but haven’t finished on them. Once we finish on those, our Power Play gets back to where it needs to be.”
Thomas Davis got the start between the pipes and he stopped 30 of the 35 shots he faced.
The 2 teams meet for Game 4 tomorrow night at 7 pm back at the CRC. The Eagles who are facing elimination will look to keep their season alive. If the Eagles win to force a decisive Game 5, it will be played in Drumheller on Wednesday night.
“I think we need to start on time. We do that, we’re in a good spot,” said Coach Milne regarding Game 4 Monday night. “If we get the 1st goal, then obviously we change the momentum a bit, they have to open up their game a bit. But we are gonna come through the way we play. In the 9, 11, 12 periods we played, we played good hockey in 10 of them. We’re gonna have to be prepared to play tomorrow. When our team’s back is against the wall, I like our team’s character. We saw it in the 3rd and I like the way we responded.”
Jesse Sheen is one of 7 Eagles players who will be looking to keep their Junior career alive said, “I think our 20 year-olds will come out with every single thing we have. I think we've got nothing to lose at this point. We’re still gonna stick to that game plan, but I know we will be giving everything we have and I’m sure all other boys will be too.”
EAGLES FUN FACTS:
– It’s been a while since the Eagles have had 3 straight games of a Playoff series going to Overtime. If it has ever happened to the Eagles, the last time was before the 2005-06 season.