Eagles drive for five against Pontiacs

Two goals by Colby Livingstone and a three-point game by Matt Forchuk drove the Canmore Eagles to a 5-2 win over the Bonnyville Pontiacs on Saturday night.

Livingstone upped his season goal total to 10 as the Eagles bounced back after being “thoroughly embarrassed” on Friday night. Also scoring for Canmore were Forchuk, Jarell Pinchuk and Coy Prevost.

Scoring for Bonnyville were Michael Oliver and Charlie Gawlicki.

Bonnyville outshot Canmore 40-28. Thomas Davis made his third start in goal for the Eagles. The Pontiacs also went with a rookie, Sandro Sylvester, of Montreal.

“I thought it was a good bound back game [after losing 4-1 to the last-place Lloydminster Bobcats on Friday],” said Andrew Milne, Eagles GM and head coach. “I thought we played really well as a unit tonight. I was proud of the guys, they way they played.

“That’s a good team over there and I liked the way they played.”

Bonnyville was looking to gain a share of top spot in the North Division with a win over Canmore. The Pontiacs lost just three times — and just once in regulation time — to South teams all of last season.

The host side got off to a quick start. The Pontiacs were given two early power plays and made the second one count, with Oliver scoring his fourth goal of the season.

The Eagles would get their own power-play goal with 1.6 seconds to play in the period with former Banff Hockey Academy player Trygve Many Guns off for roughing. Livingstone scored and the teams went to the first break tied at 1-1.

Power plays also played a part in the second period, as the Eagles took the lead on Pinchuk’s second goal this season at 5:48.

‘It was nice to see that one go in, I haven’t had much luck with pucks going in … it’s been a while since I scored,” said Pinchuk. His only other goal came a dozen games ago, Oct. 14 against the Brooks Bandits.

The goal came on the Pontiacs' second penalty of the period and fourth consecutive after the Eagles took the first three penalties of this game.

Prevost would deflect in a Daly Hamilton point shot with less than two minutes to play in the middle frame to give the Eagles a 3-1 lead. Prevost’s goal was his 10th and came with the team’s playing five aside.

The Eagles scored the only two goals of the period despite being outshot 22-9 as Davis came up with some big saves to deny any Pontiacs reply.

“He was calm under pressure, made the saves he needed to, and put himself in position where he could battle for pucks. I thought our D did a great job giving (the Pontiacs limited scoring chances,” said Milne.

Bonnyville made it a one-goal game in the fourth minute of the third period on Gawlicki’s fourth goal only to have the Livingstone answer 28 seconds later.

Forchuk’s 12th goal of the season on the power play with five seconds to play would complete the scoring.

Forchuk also had two assists, both coming on Livingstone’s goals, and has a league-leading 24 helpers. He is back to second in league scoring with 36 points.

Canmore finished three-for-seven on the power play. Bonnyville was one-for-five.

Milne said the team was looking to make up for a subpar performance to start this mini-northern trip.

“We had a meeting (Saturday) morning and I think they were all thoroughly embarrassed. For us it was more about preparation. We got behind the eight-ball and thought it was about preparation. Tonight, they responded with better prep and it showed in our game,” said Milne.

With the win, Canmore is now 13-8-3 and once again in a three-way tie for third place in the South Division with the idle Camrose Kodiaks (14-9-1) and Okotoks Oilers (13-7-3), who scored three unanswered goals in the third period on Saturday to come from behind to edge the hometown Grande Prairie Storm 5-4.

The Brooks Bandits (17-3-3) continue to lead the South standings after defeating the North-leading Whitecourt Wolverines 4-1 on Saturday.

The Calgary Canucks (17-8-1) hold onto second place in the South, defeating Lloydminster 5-1 on Saturday.

Canmore heads to Calgary on Tuesday to take on the Canucks, 7 p.m. at the Max Bell Centre.


For more from Russ at the Crag and Canyon: http://www.thecragandcanyon.ca/2016/11/20/eagles-drive-for-five-against-pontiacs