EAGLES DOWN 2 GAMES TO 0, DESPITE VALIANT EFFORT
As anticipated, the Canmore Eagles are facing a big challenge in their second round series vs the no. 1 team in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, the Brooks Bandits. In Game one on Friday night at Centennial Regional Arena in Brooks, the Eagles received a tough welcome to the series as they dropped a 7-1 decision. In Game two on Saturday night though, the Eagles made the game much more interesting and competitive, but they fell short losing 8-5 with an empty net goal.
Except for the end result, the first two games in round one vs Camrose were very similar. “We started better tonight. We didn”™t stand around and watch. We were aware of how hard they were going to come and didn”™t sit back” says Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne regarding the Eagles much better performance in Game two.
In Game one, the Bandits scored five times in the opening frame. Their five goals was sandwiched by the Eagles”™ lone goal of the game from Defenceman Austin Lusok, his first of the playoffs. The Bandits added two more goals in the second period. Bandits Forward Dario Beljo lead the way with a pair of goals and two assists, while the AJHL scoring champion in the regular season Ryan McAllister had 3 assists. Andrei Proctor-Ramirez got the start between the pipes for the Eagles and he made 38 saves on 45 saves. Final shots on goal were 45-26 for Brooks.
In Game two, after giving up an early goal to Bandits”™ Devin Phillips just 33 seconds into the contest, Vincent Scott tied the game at 3:24 with Mitchell Watson assisting. At 7:07, the Eagles took their first lead of the series as Defencman Dylan Bidyk netted his fourth of the playoffs. Sam McPeak and Zach Cunningham assisted. The Bandits tied the game at 2-2 on a goal from Brendan Mairs at 9:04, before the Eagles regained the lead off Kyle Young”™s power play marker. That was however short lived as less than a minute later, the Bandits once again tied the game on a goal from Ryan McAllister. Before the end of the wild first period, the Bandits took the lead on a shorthanded goal from Brendan Poshak at 17:38.
In the second period, the Bandits extended their lead on goals Ethan Lund at 4:51 and TJ Hughes on the power play at 12:51. The Eagles answered back on Vincent Scott”™s second goal of the night at 14:29 to make it 6-4 Bandits heading into the second intermission. Watson and Ethan Schaeffer assisted on the goal.
In the third period, the Eagles got within one as Vincent Scott completed the hat trick at 7:55 with Schaeffer assisting. Scott now has 4 goals and 9 points in 9 games in these playoffs. The Bandits however regained their two-goal cushion on TJ Hughes”™ second of the game at 9:27. The Bandits added an empty goal from Ryan McAllister at 19:41 to seal the victory.
It was Matthew Malin who got the start between the pipes for the Eagles, his first playoff start at the Junior level. Despite getting peppered with 64 shots, he did well and made some great saves. He stopped 57 shots and final shot count was 65-16 for Brooks.
“We wanted to give Malin an opportunity and it”™s like he got to play three games tonight with the amount of shots he took” says Coach Milne. “I thought he was outstanding tonight. He was calm and cool when under a lot of pressure. It also gives Manny a little more rest going into Game three”.
The series now shifts to the Canmore Recreation Centre for Games 3 & 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday night. Puck drop for both games is 7 pm.
The Eagles will get Forward Riley Dekowny back in the lineup after he served a three-game suspension, which will be a welcome addition as he was one of the best Eagles players in the series vs Camrose.
The Eagles also hoping to see the Canmore Rec Centre packed and enthusiastic just like in the series vs Camrose to help them getting back into the series.
“I think all those positives can help for sure. We can get a better handle on matchups with last change. It will definitely be exciting and Hockey over the next two games” says Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne.
AROUND THE AJHL PLAYOFFS: In the other South semi final series, the Okotoks Oilers and the Drumheller Dragons are tied one game apiece. Each of the first two games went to overtime with the final score being 3-2 for both. Game one went to double overtime, which the Dragons won, while overtime in Game two was a lot less long as the Oilers scored the winner only 1:34 into first OT.
In the North Division series, despite giving the top seeded Spruce Grove Saints a great battle, the Whitecourt Wolverines find themselves down 2 games to 0. The Saints won Game one 4-3 in overtime and Game two 3-1. The other series between the Drayton Valley Thunder and the Fort McMurray Oil Barons is tied 1-1. Fort McMurray took Game one 4-1, while Drayton Valley answered back with a 5-3 win in Game two.
Game 3 for every series, except Whitecourt-Spruce Grove goes on Tuesday night.