By Russ Ullyot
Courtesy of the Crag and Canyon
Simon Philp’s shorthanded goal three minutes into the first period set the Canmore Eagles on their way to a 3-2 win over the Drayton Valley Thunder in Alberta Junior Hockey League action on Friday night.
Back on Canmore Rec Ceentre ice after a successful midweek home game in Banff, which the Eagles won 5-2, the Eagles also got goals from Joe Serpico and Griffin Mumby as they built a 3-0 lead by early in the second period before 417 hometown fans.
Drayton Valley goals came from Brayden Harris and Joseph Tambasco as the Thunder rallied but fell short.
“I thought we played well,” Eagles head coach Andrew Milne said. “We did what we had to do. We came out strong and put ourselves in position to win.
“We did make it a little interesting late but we did a lot of good things tonight.”
Ryan Ferguson was in goal for Canmore and made 29 saves.
Marc Olivier Daigle was in goal for Drayton Valley and made 26 saves.
The game’s opening two goals came courtesy of the special teams.
The first was a shorthanded marker by the Eagles at 3:02. Simon Philp scored on a breakaway after stealing the puck at centre ice. Skating in on Daigle he wristed the puck over the goaltender’s right shoulder.
It was the Eagles’ fifth shorthanded goal of the season, tying them for the league lead and with the number they scored all of last season. The team did not record a single shorthanded goal the entire 2012-13 season.
The Eagles nearly gifted the goal back to Drayton Valley in the 10th minute of play when Connor Wilson slipped at his own blue line allowing the Thunder’s Noah Kieser an unfettered route to goal, only to have Ferguson dive out and poke check the forward.
On the subsequent rush up ice, the Eagles scored to take a 2-0 lead at 10:19. Serpico scored from close in as both teams scrambled for the puck at Daigle’s right post. Wilson would pick up one of the assists on the play.
It was the 22nd power-play goal on home ice, by far the best of any AJHL team this season, as the hometown Eagles are operating at nearly 29% on Rec Centre ice. Away from home, the Eagles are just 14.5% with the man advantage – ninth best in the league.
Canmore had another chance to score a shorthanded goal in the final minute of the first period when Lane Olson stripped the puck at his own blue line and skated the length of the ice, but Daigle stood his ground and turned aside the deking forward.
Canmore did take a 3-0 lead at 5:36 of the middle frame when Mumby’s long wrist shot from the blue line eluded Daigle’s catching glove.
The Thunder got on the scoreboard when Harris fired the puck over a crouching Ferguson at 7:23. The Canmore goaltender never saw the shot as Harris moved out from a crowd behind the goal line and fired it high 10 feet out from goal.
Even with that goal and a late third-period maker against him, Ferguson was the star of the night with several spectacular saves.
The early stages of the third period were highlighted by a bizarre call from referee Geoff Dasilva, who assessed Canmore tough guy Jeremy Gordon only a double minor for roughing when he and Drayton Valley’s Brodi Clowes dropped their gloves. The two exchanged punches with Gordon landing several heavy blows before they went to the ice.
Clowes was assessed an instigator minor and a major for fighting. He may have instigated the incident but he was more on the receiving end than the aggressor during the 30-second bout. Milne explained the ruling was due to the new automatic game misconduct penalties for fighting instituted this year.
“When there is an instigator, they really want to hammer the instigator, and that player came off the bench after Gordo’s big hit and started the fight. So they are really trying to penalize the instigator on the play,” Milne said. “They (both) should get a major but they don’t want it to count as one of his fives [an accumulation of which can lead to further suspension]. It’s a slap in the face to the instigator.”
In this reporter’s regard, it also proves the automatic game misconduct penalty is really a farce of a rule when such incidences arise.
Late in the game, Drayton Valley did have a two-man advantage when two Eagles were ruled off the ice at the same time. Tambasco scored at 18:10 to make it a one-goal game leading to a frantic ending.
Jordan Revie would hit the post taking a shot on an open net with 50 seconds to play and the Eagles had to scramble the last few seconds to hold on for the win.
Canmore climbed back to the .500 mark on the season at 12 wins, 12 losses and one shootout defeat. The Eagles remain tied with the Olds Grizzlys (11-10-3) for fifth place in the South Division at 25 points. The Grizzlys defeated the Calgary Canucks 6-3.
Drayton Valley is 10-10-4 and fifth in the North Division.
Next up for Canmore is another Wednesday night home game, hosting the Okotoks Oilers at the Canmore Rec Centre. Game time is 7 p.m. The Eagles then head to Okotoks on Friday.
EAGLES NEST: Not dressing for the Eagles were injured players Matt Forchuk, Jakob Lavoie, Kevin Wolf and Levi Nelson. … Jordan Greenfield was Friday night’s backup goaltender. He is playing junior B in Spruce Grove. Canmore’s Adam Tanaku got his second start on defence for the Eagles, although his role was greatly reduced from Wednesday’s game in Banff against the Calgary Canucks. … The Eagles annual Town Party goes Saturday night at the Coast Hotel beginning at 7 p.m. complete with door prizes, silent auction and raffles. Sully’s Garage and Cronic are providing the music.