PHOTO: Logan Ferguson scores one of the two Eagle goals in Saturday night’s 12-2 loss to Spruce Grove Saints. Photo courtesy of Pam Doyle.
In the simplest terms, it was a week to forget for the Canmore Eagles Junior A Hockey team.
Fresh off a hard fought, physical and emotionally draining 4-2 victory over the Camrose Kodiaks last Saturday night (Jan. 9), the Eagles lost 7-2 to the Olds Grizzlys on Tuesday, 3-2 to the Calgary Canucks on Friday, and hit absolute rock bottom on Saturday night losing 12-2 to the Spruce Grove Saints.
Injuries, suspensions, player trades, provincial exams, a hectic schedule of eight games in 15 days, and overall poor play have all come cascading down on the team at the same time.
As a result of their three straight losses this week, the Eagles overall record has now fallen to 19-20-4 and they suddenly find themselves in fifth-place in the Alberta Junior Hockey League Southern Division standings. The top four teams all qualify for home-ice advantage when the playoffs begin in mid-March.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, the immediate road ahead does not get any easier as the club now heads out on the road for seven of their next eight games.
“To say its been a difficult week would certainly be an understatement,” confirmed a perplexed Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne, whose club has just two wins in their past 10 games. “It has been a combination of factors, but the bottom line is that we just haven’t been a very good hockey club of late – no excuses. Last night was embarrassing for all of us – the players, coaches, management, volunteers and our fans, but the bottom line is, I still believe in our group of players. We have the right ingredients to be a good hockey team. When we get healthy, get everyone back in the lineup, and start playing like a cohesive team again, we should be OK. Like a computer that’s suddenly gone totally AWOL, we need to turn it off, re-boot it and start it up again. It’s still a good computer, it just needs a fresh re-start and that’s what we’ll do.”
The Eagles will now have a full week of practice and preparation before heading north next weekend to face the Grande Prairie Storm (9-31-3) on Friday, Jan. 22, the Whitecourt Wolverines (32-7-5) on Saturday, Jan. 23, and the Sherwood Park Crusaders (27-15-2) on Sunday afternoon (Jan. 24).
“Maybe going on the road will be a good thing for us right now,” said Milne. “No distractions, just concentrate on playing good fundamental hockey again. We’ll have some good practice sessions this week and get back to concentrating on the fundamentals. We can be better, and we will be.”