PHOTO: Matt Forchuk (#10) and Brayden Biccum have a lot to smile about as the Eagles have won six straight games, including five straight victories on the road. (Pam Doyle file photo)
UPCOMING HOME GAMES
Friday, Nov. 20 – Drayton Valley Thunder at Canmore – RBC Night – 7 PM
Saturday, Nov. 21 – Sherwood Park Crusaders at Canmore – 7 PM
When Canmore Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne looked at his upcoming Alberta Junior Hockey League schedule back on Oct. 12, he probably had some degree of trepidation as his hockey club was about to embark on a potentially difficult portion of the schedule with just three home games on the slate during his team’s next dozen games.
If Milne had any concerns about the “compete level” of his 23-man roster, they have no doubt been erased as his club responded exceedingly well to post an impressive 8-3-1 record over this 12-game span.
The Eagles wrapped up this 12-game segment with a come-from-behind 8-5 victory over the Calgary Mustangs on Sunday night in Calgary before 221 fans at the newly renovated Max Bell Arena. The victory was the Eagles sixth straight, with five of the victories coming on the road.
With the victory, the Eagles now sport an overall record of 15-7-2, good enough for 32 points and a second-place tie with the Brooks Bandits in the AJHL Southern Division standings, just one point behind the first-place Camrose Kodiaks.
The Eagles, who scored three power-play goals, one short-handed goal and one empty netter against the Mustangs, received goals from Coy Prevost (10 & 11th), Kyle Pauls (6 & 7th), Matt Forchuk (15th), Lane Olson (11th), Nicholas Wihak (2nd) and Braden Saretsky (5th). Brett Radford also chipped in with three assists.
Canmore goaltender Ryan Gilchrist picked up the win to improve his record to 8-3-1 stopping 18 of 19 Mustang shots. Gilchrist relieved starter Ryan Bontorin at the 6:18 mark of the second period after Bontorin allowed four Mustang goals on nine shots. The Eagles outshot the Mustangs 49-28 on the night.
“It was a sloppy start for us, we didn’t have much jump and it took us a while to find our skating legs,” said Milne in reference to the fact that his club had just returned from a long bus ride home from Friday night’s 8-1 road victory in Fort McMurray. “I also have to give the Mustangs some credit. They worked hard and played like a desperate hockey team. They were back on their home ice for the first time this season and trying to impress a new head coach. Once our guys got their legs and we got accustomed to the big ice surface at the Father David Bauer arena, they were very effective.”
The Eagles will now enjoy a little more home coming in the weeks to come as their pre-Christmas schedule will see them play seven games at home, one game in Banff, and just three games on the road.
Canmore will play two home games this weekend with the Drayton Valley Thunder (10-10-4) in town Friday, Nov. 20 and the Sherwood Park Crusaders (16-6-2) in town for Saturday, Nov. 21. Both games will start at 7 PM.
“It will be nice to be close to home for the next stretch, but we’ve got some big physical northern division teams coming into our rink and they play a very rugged style of game, “said Milne whose club has scored at least one power-play goals in each of their last nine games and registered an impressive 19 power-play goals in that stretch. “Our success to date has been to use our team speed, force penalties and capitalize on our power-play.”
NOTEBOOK: With a two-point night last night, Canmore’s Matt Forchuk now sits atop the AJHL scoring parade with 38 points in 24 games played. Line-mates Lane Olson sits in second-place with 33 points and Logan Ferguson is tied for third-place with 32 points . . .The Eagles also own the AJHL’s top power-play with 33 goals on 124 power-play opportunities for a conversion rate of 26.61 %.