EAGLES DROP PAIR OF GAMES VS NORTH DIVISION OPPONENTS
Two North Divisions teams made the trip to the mountains this weekend to take on the Eagles. It was the Lloydminster Bobcats and the Spruce Grove Saints who were the only two teams in the AJHL that had yet to play at the Canmore Rec Centre since the start of the pandemic.
On Friday night vs Lloydminster, the Eagles fired 46 shots on net and had many good scoring chances, especially in the third period, but unfortunately they fell to visiting Bobcats by a score of 4-2.
“I think that game was all over the map. We didn”™t start well and that cost ourselves getting down. I thought we pushed hard in the third outshooting them 17-4, but just couldn”™t capitalize. It”™s kind of been the story of our season not to capitalize on some of our chances. We can”™t give up goals early, because it becomes a mental struggle for us, so we have to push to be stronger earlier” says Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne.
The loan goal in the first period was scored by the visitors with only a few seconds left as Ethan Aucoin scored on the powerplay. At 5:30 of the second period, the Eagles tied the game on Riley Dekowny”™s 13th goal of the season on a beautiful tic-tac-toe play with Vincent Scott and Mitchell Watson. The Bobcats however quickly broke the Eagle”™s momentum as just 52 seconds after, Lloydminster scored two quick ones 45 seconds apart with Jayven Leslie and Reid MacKay finding the back of the net. Before the end of the middle frame, the Bobcats extended their lead with a goal from Matthew Swanson at 16:55.
Just 29 seconds into the third period, Ethan Schaeffer scored a powerplay goal, his 21st of the season to make it a two goal game. Cale Lyons and Isaac Suppin assisted. But despite getting plenty of good scoring chances, it was as close as the Eagles would get. Final shots on goal were 46-33 in favor of the Eagles with goalie Andrei Proctor-Ramirez making 29 saves.
On Saturday night vs the Spruce Grove Saints, the game had a wild start as 6 of the first 7 shots fired found the back of a net. The Saints scored the first 2 goals courtesy of Braeden Virtue and Logan Acheson only 2:19 into the contest. The Eagles though fought back with two goals of their own as Ethan Schaeffer scored his team leading 22nd goal of the season. Then at 6:17, the Eagles tied the game on Riley Dekowny”™s 14th goal of the season. However, being on even terms with the top team in the North Division was short lived, as the visitors regained the lead on a goal from Luigi Benincasa at 7:08. Then at 8:17, Cody Pisarczky put the Saints up by two once again and the goal chased Eagles”™ starting goalie Andrei Proctor-Ramirez who gave up 4 goals on 4 shots and was replaced by Matthew Malin. The storm settled down after that flurry of goals as there were only two more goals scored in the last 51 minutes of the game. Both goals however came from the visitors as Hunter Brown and Nikola Jovanovic sealed a 6-2 win for the Saints.
The final shots goal were 32-21 in favor of the Saints. Matthew Malin did well in relief of Proctor-Ramirez as he made 25 saves on 27 shots.
“The start of the game was crazy. We knew they would come hard, obviously they weren”™t too happy after we beat them in their building last game (the Eagles beat the Saints in Spruce Grove 5-3 on January 22). I thought they had a couple of early breaks. They got the first two, we battled back to tie it and they got a couple of easy ones that shouldn”™t have gone in and I wouldn”™t blame the goaltender on those, I just think it was poor team effort on a lot of that. After that, things settled in and we pushed, but they”™re a good Hockey club. They”™re tough to penetrate, they do a good job of trapping and playing the neutral zone and not giving you a lot of chances. We had some chances later in the game to bringing it within two, but they ended up scoring early and it was a tough one to battle back for us. “ says Coach Milne.
Coach Milne likes how the team”™s special teams are coming in the last 10 games with the powerplay running at 21% and the penalty kill at 96%.
In the South Division standings, the Eagles remain in fifth place. The fourth place Okotoks Oilers remain seven points up, while the sixth Blackfalds Bulldogs are now just two points back of the Eagles.
The Eagles have only six games left in the regular season and they get to enjoy plenty of rest over the next two weeks as they only have two games scheduled between now and February 20. The Eagles”™ next action is on Friday, February 11th as they travel to Calgary to take on the Canucks (11-35-6). The Eagles”™ next home game is on Thursday, February 17th as they host the Drumheller Dragons (29-14-8). Puck drop is 7 pm.
“I think rest is important” says Coach Milne. “Right now at this time of the year, rest is going to be a big factor, it”™s a weapon we can use. The idea here will be taking good rest and give the guys a good opportunity to recoup and prepare ourselves for the push down the final stretch and the playoffs”.
EAGLES NEST: The Eagles game vs Spruce Grove was the team”™s final game vs a North Division opponent this season. In their final 6 games of the regular season, the Eagles will face the Calgary Canucks twice, the Drumheller Dragons, the Brooks Bandits and the Olds Grizzlys twice. The Eagles only have 2 home games remaining (Feb 17th vs Drumheller and Feb 23rd vs Olds).
The playoffs are scheduled to start on March 4th. The Eagles have already secured their spot.