The Canmore Eagles were back in action Saturday night after a week of practice and going through the deadline on Thursday, January 10. Playing for the first time since last Saturday in Spruce Grove, the Eagles showed no rust and were able to control most of the game as they scored 7 unanswered goals, 3 in the opening frame and 4 in the middle frame, en route to a convincing 7-1 road win over the Olds Grizzlys.
With the win, the Eagles improve their record to 21-16-3 for 45 points. They remain in 6th Place in the AJHL South division, 3 points back of the 5th Place Camrose Kodiaks and 5 points back of the 4th Place Calgary Mustangs. The Eagles, however, have 2 games in hand on both the Kodiaks and the Mustangs.
“Between the 1st and 2nd periods, we re-evaluated our game plan, made sure our guys were focused,” said Eagles Assistant Coach/Assistant General Manager Evan McFeeters. “By the time, it was 5 minutes into the 2nd, the game was pretty much solidified. We just wanted to make sure we got good habits and had our players finishing the game to play tomorrow.”
Leading the way in tonight’s victory was Eagles’ 2nd year forward Connor Lyons who recorded a hat trick (15th, 16th & 17th), the first of his AJHL career. He also added 2 assists for a 5 point night.
“Connor’s got an elite Hockey mind and a lethal shot,” said Coach McFeeters. “That turned up with his chemistry with linemate Alex Young that has been a great mix since we acquired him at the last year’s trade deadline. The way he makes decisions on the ice, leads the game and sees the game, he’s a very intelligent hockey player and really feeding off the great chemistry with Alex Young. They both have a lot of games left in this league and we are excited to see those 2 together as we build towards the playoffs.”
Speaking of Alex Young, the 17-year old Sophomore continued his great play of the past month as he had 1 goal (25th) and 2 assists. Young leads the team in scoring with 51 points in only 39 games. He ranks 6th in the AJHL scoring race. The other Eagles players finding the twine were Quinton Ong (14th), Max Giangualano (22nd) and Mark Drohan (8th).
Saturday was a game that featured 3 Eagles Defencemen returning to the lineup. Brent Schuldhaus returned after missing 3 games due to an illness, while Jared Bowman missed 7 games when he suffered an injury after blocking a shot. The other player returning to the Eagles’ lineup was 20 year-old veteran Jesse Sheen who was a welcome addition at the trade deadline and a familiar face as he was with the team in the past 2 seasons and appeared in 109 games.
“Jesse was our workhorse the last couple of seasons here,” said Coach McFeeters. “Now that he’s healthy and ready to go, we’re super happy to have him. He’s a passionate hockey player and he’s a guy that stirs the drink for our Hockey Club when he’s in our lineup. Tonight was no different to see him. It’s like he didn’t miss any games. He stepped right in and played a vital role for us again tonight. We chatted with him prior to the break a little bit and through all the season to check and see how his progress was. He gave us the heads up that he was ready to go for the back half of the season, we were ecstatic to get him back in our lineup.”
Another player who performed well when called upon last night was netminder Logan Dyck. The 19-year-old from Calgary was perfect until he saw his former Eagle teammate Ty Budai end his Shutout bid with 5:36 left in the final frame. Logan stopped 31 of the 32 shots he faced to earn his 10th win of the season. The shots on goal were 36-32 in favour of the Eagles.
The Eagles have a quick turnaround as they are right back in action Sunday afternoon as they host the Calgary Canucks (6-35-1). Puck drop is 2:30 pm. It will be the Eagles’ first home of 2019. We hope to see a big crowd at the Canmore Recreation Centre!
EAGLES’ FUN FACTS:
– Connor Lyons’ hat trick was the Eagles’ 3rd hat trick this season. Alex Young had the other 2 on October 13 vs the Camrose Kodiaks and on January 4 vs the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
– Alex Young reached a milestone last night. With his 3 points, Alex reached the 100 career point mark as an Eagle in only 99 games. Alex has also surpassed his point total from last season. Last season, he had 50 points in 60 games, while this season, he has 51 points in only 39 games. Congratulations Alex !!!
– With last night’s win, the Eagles have officially clinched a Playoff spot. The Eagles will be in the AJHL Playoffs for the 22nd time in 24 seasons of their existence. The top 7 teams in each division make the playoffs. The last place team in the South division, the Olds Grizzlys can mathematically no longer catch up the Eagles. With their Playoff spot secured, the Eagles will now try to position themselves as high as possible in the AJHL South division standings.
– Last night’s game saw some rough stuff between the 2 teams. And 2 Eagles players were handed a suspension. Eagles’ Forward Taden Rattie has been assessed a 2-game suspension for a Game Misconduct for Interference from the bench. While Defenceman Daly Hamilton has been assessed a 1-game suspension for being involved in a Secondary Fight.
– With last night’s game, the 40th of the season, the Eagles are now at the 2/3 of their 2018-19 regular season schedule. The Eagles have 20 games left to play in the and 12 of those will be played on home ice, including 1 in Banff.