PHOTO: The Eagles will be decided underdogs in their upcoming Southern Division semi-final series against the Brooks Bandits – file photo courtesy of Pam Doyle.
When the Canmore Eagles take on the Brooks Bandits in this year’s Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Southern Division semi-finals, it will certainly be a classic case of David versus Goliath.
Based on the statistics from their 60-game AJHL’s regular season schedules, it’s not hard to determine that the Brooks Bandits head into this best-of-seven series as the overwhelming favorite.
Here are the hard statistics based on the 2015-16 regular season.
The Bandits finished first in the AJHL Southern Division standings with a record of 49-9-2 and 100 points. Brooks posted an impressive home record of 27-3, scored a league high 306 goals on offence, allowed just 135 goals on defence, and posted a league high goal differential of positive 171.
The Eagles finished in fourth-place in the Southern Division standings with a record of 26-27-7 and 59 points. Canmore posted a home record of 15-11-4, scored 205 goals on offence, allowed 240 goals on defence, and posted a net goal differential of minus 35.
In their six games played against each other this season, the Bandits won five games in regulation and lost a 3-2 overtime decision to the Eagles in a game played in Canmore back on October 23.
During their six-game season series, the Bandits outscored the Eagles by a 32-12 margin and outshot them by a margin of 227-157.
The only area where the Eagles had the advantage was on the powerplay where they finished first in the AJHL with 82 powerplay goals on 332 opportunities for a conversion rate of 25.47%. The Bandits finished in 4th place with 78 goals on 341 opportunities for a conversion rate of 22.87%.
“It’s not going to be easy, we know that, but we’ve played some pretty good games against them, if you take out the first two games of the year when we didn’t have the goaltending that we do now,” said Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne, in reference to 11-2 and 6-2 losses to the Bandits when the season opened back on Sept. 11 and 12th. “We are eventually going to have to go through the best, to be the best and we realize that we’ll have to be at the top of our game if we are going to beat them.
“But the playoffs are a new season, upsets happen, and we are playing our best hockey of the season right now. Our goaltending is solid, our defence is very mobile, all four lines are scoring, and we’ve got a dynamic powerplay going for us. We also come into the series relatively healthy, rested and ready to go.”
Games One and Two will be played in Brooks on Friday, March 18 and Saturday March 19, before the series shifts back to Canmore for Games 3 and 4 on Monday, March 21 and Tuesday, March 22.