The Eagles travelled to Olds on Tuesday night to battle against the Grizzlys for the first time this season. The Eagles were successful in leaving the Olds Sportsplex with 2 points as they edged the hometown Grizzlys by a score of 3-2 to even their early-season record to 2 wins and 2 losses.
But despite picking up the 2 points, Eagles Assistant Coach/Assistant General Manager Evan McFeeters thinks that the team needs to work on a few things saying, ?I think our players? effort was there. Now we?re just working on cleaning up our structure a little bit and playing more organized Hockey. It wasn?t the prettiest of wins tonight, but a win is a win on the road on a Tuesday night in Olds. We got the job done, but we obviously have some things to clean up.?
It was the Grizzlys who got on the board first with a goal from Tyler Pang only 57 seconds into the game. However the Eagles would respond with two goals in the first period, both scored on the Power Play. At 4:46, it was Connor Lyons from Jared Bowman and at 16:51, it was Lyons again, with the assists coming from Alex Young and Brent Schuldhaus. With his pair of goals, Lyons now has 4 goals and he?s the team leader in that category.
In the 2nd period, the Eagles would extend their lead on a late goal from Owen Reith at 18:17, on a nice tic-tac-toe play for his 1st of the season. Michael Spafford and Alex Young assisted on the goal.
The 3rd period would see the Grizzlys get within one on a Power Play goal from David Dach at 5:10, but that was as close as the Grizzlys would get as the Eagles were able to prevent the home side from getting the equalizer.
Starting in goal for the Eagles was rookie Devin Chapman who was making his 1st AJHL start. Chapman was solid in net and made 16 saves to pick up his 1st AJHL win.
?It feels pretty good,? said Chapman about getting his 1st win in his 1st start. ?I thought I could have played a little better, stopped both the goals that went in. But the boys helped me with scoring a couple of goals on the Power Play. So it feels good to get the first win out of the way.?
?I thought Devin really settled in after allowing that 1st goal,? said Coach McFeeters. ?Yes he probably would want that 1st goal back, but in his 1st game, he was rock solid and he looked confident as the game went on. He made some big saves down the stretch in an uncomfortable situation when you?re trying to protect a one-goal lead when things aren?t quite going your way. He was the backbone of our team tonight, he was our team MVP in his first-ever AJHL game.?
The final shot clock was 26-18 in favour of the Eagles.
Next up is the AJHL Showcase Weekend in Camrose as the Eagles will face-off against a pair of North Division teams. The Eagles will face the Grande Prairie Storm (4-2) on Thursday at 7 pm and the Drayton Valley Thunder (1-3-1) on Friday at 3:30 pm. It will be the first time this season that the Eagles get to have a crack at the teams from the North Division.
?It?s the right time to give our boys a test like that. All eyes are on them. They have no choice, but to come in and then put the best work for them,? said Coach McFeeters. ?We?re on the right path right now and our structure needs to be cleaned up before we get to the Showcase. So tomorrow is a preparation day and when we get to Camrose on Thursday evening, it?s a big opportunity for our players individually and also as a team to take that jump forward and get when we want to be early in the season.?
After the Showcase, the Eagles will have a week to prepare for their next home game, which will be on Friday, October 4 vs the Sherwood Park Crusaders at Fenlands Arena in Banff.
EAGLES FUN FACTS:
– Eagles Defenceman Tayler Miller made his Eagles debut tonight. Miller missed the first 3 games of the regular season due to an injury.
– Devin Chapman is the first Eagles goalie to earn his 1st AJHL win in his 1st AJHL start since Thomas Davis on October 28 2016, when Eagles defeated the Grande Prairie Storm 4-3 in a Shootout.