PHOTO: Matt Forchuk had a goal and an assist on Saturday night to lead the Eagles to a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Mustangs. (File photo courtesy of Julie Wilson)
Friday, January 23 – at Olds Grizzlys
Saturday, January 24 – Olds Grizzlys at Canmore
It wasn’t easy, but the Canmore Eagles continued their mastery over Calgary based teams as the Eagles defeated the Calgary Mustangs 4-3 on Saturday night in Alberta Junior Hockey League action before 432 patrons at the Canmore Recreation Centre.
In their 10 games played against either the Calgary Canucks or the Calgary Mustangs this season, the Eagles are a perfect 10-0.
Playing their fifth game in eight days, and with four starters on the sidelines with injuries/sickness, the Eagles hung tough and did just enough to come up with the victory and improve their overall record to 21-23-1.
The Eagles received goals from Joe Serpico (13), Kyle Pauls (7), Ryley Risling (20) and Matt Forchuk (9), while rookie goaltender Levi Nelson stopped 32 of 35 Mustang shots to pick up the win and improve his overall record to 5-2.
“We’ve played a lot of hockey in the last eight days and have a lot of key players on the sidelines, so it was gut-check time and the players did a great job of fighting through this adversity to get the victory,” said Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne, whose club was missing the services of leading scorer Connor Wilson, defenceman Griffin Mumby and Jeremy Gordon, and forward Brett Radford. “On the plus side, we were able to give everyone on our roster some valuable ice-time and they all responded very well. Guys like Forchuk and Pauls really took their game up a notch and it was great to see.”
With the victory, Canmore now sits in sixth-place in the AJHL Southern Division standings with 43 points, three points behind the fifth-place Olds Grizzlys, and seven points up on the seventh-place Calgary Canucks. The top seven teams qualify for post-season play.
The Eagles will now get a little break in their schedule as they have just four games remaining in the month of January, including back-to-back, weekend series against both the Olds Grizzlys (Jan 23 & 24) and Okotoks Oilers (Jan. 30 &31).
“No doubt about it, we can certainly use this time to get a little rest, get healthy and re-energize,” said Milne. “We have 15 regular season games left to play and get prepared for the playoffs. We’ve faced a lot of adversity this year with some key injuries, but if we can get everybody back, I think we could be a dangerous team come playoff time.”
NOTEBOOK: Joe Serpico celebrated his 21st birthday on Saturday night and is having his best season in the AJHL with 36 points in just 45 games. . . Rookie Matt Forchuk has now scored in three straight games and has picked up six points in his last 5 games. . . .Kyle Pauls also has five points in his last five games and now has 20 points on the season. . . With his goal last night, Ryley Risling now leads the Eagles in goals scored with 20, a significant improvement on the five goals he notched last season as a rookie. . . The Eagles have just seven regular season home games remaining this season.