The Canmore Eagles were host to the 2nd place team in the North Division, the Sherwood Park Crusaders on Friday night. The Eagles put up a good battle against one of the most high octane offences in the AJHL in front of 520 fans at the Canmore Recreation Centre, but unfortunately, it was not enough, as the Eagles fell to the Crusaders by a score of 4-1. After starting the month of February with 3 straight wins, the Eagles have found themselves on the losing side in their last 3 games. The Eagles are in 6th Place in the AJHL South division with a record of 27-22-5 for 59 points. They are 1 point back of the 5th place Calgary Mustangs and 3 points back of the 4th Place Camrose Kodiaks, the last spot for home ice advantage in the 1st Round of the Playoffs.
Eagles’ Head Coach/General Andrew Milne who was not happy with the team’s performance in their last game, a 7-3 loss to Okotoks Oilers on Tuesday night was pretty pleased with how the team played Friday night saying, “I thought we played with good tenacity, I thought we were better defensively (from Tuesday's game against Okotoks), obviously. They got a Power Play goal that hurt us in the 1st period and with the 2nd Power Play goal coming, that’s not easy to defend again. So I thought we kept their really high octane offence team off the scoreboard, better defensively, but obviously not good enough.”
The game was certainly very chippy as both teams got themselves in curricular activity after whistles on several occasions and a total of 107 penalty minutes were assessed, including 83 in the 2nd period alone. Of all the penalties, there were 2 game misconducts, 1 major penalty and three 10-minute misconducts.
The Crusaders struck first on an even-strength goal from Nick Bowman at 8:18 of the 1st period. Shortly after Eagles’ Forward Taden Rattie was given a game misconduct for a checking from behind penalty, the Crusaders made the Eagles’ pay as Zach Kaiser scored on the Power Play at 8:54 to make it a 2-0 game. The Eagles got on the board late in the period, as Alex Young (33rd) tucked in a loose puck that cut the Eagles’ deficit to 1 goal. Connor Lyons and Aidan West picked up the assists.
In the 2nd period, after a series of penalties including a 5-minute major and a Game Misconduct to Eagles’ Forward Max Giangualano for Cross-Checking, the Crusaders scored on a 4 on 3 Power Play to regain their 2-goal lead as Arjun Atwal threaded the needle at 10:08. With about 5 minutes left in the period, the Eagles were given an opportunity to get back in the game when they had a 2-man advantage for 1:04. Unfortunately, the Eagles who were missing 3 key players of their Power Play unit (Rattie, Giangualano and Mark Drohan) were unable to take advantage of their big opportunity. Rattie and Giangualano were out of the game, while Drohan was serving a 10-minute misconduct.
“It absolutely hurt us,” said Coach Milne. “It’s a tough flow, and tough ability to get in a routine there, but I thought we had some good looks but didn’t get quite the puck luck we would have liked in there. That probably cost us the game, we had an opportunity, we had chances, but can’t blame our guys for that. We probably outworked them for 40 minutes.”
In the 3rd period, the Eagles had some good opportunities to claw back, but unfortunately, they could not solve Crusaders’ netminder Matt Berlin. The Crusaders were able to seal the victory with an empty-net goal from Nick Bowman, his 2nd of the game at 18:57.
Between the Eagles’ pipes, it was Logan Dyck who was making his 4th consecutive start. The 19-year-old from Calgary, AB had a great game and he kept his team in the game as he stopped 33 of the 36 shots he faced. The shots on goal were 37-32 for the Crusaders.
The Eagles are back in action Saturday night as they travel to Okotoks to take on the Oilers (36-16-2). Those same 2 teams will meet again for the 3rd time in less than a week back at the Canmore Recreation Centre on Monday, Family Day for a matinee game. Puck drop is 2:30 pm. After the game, fans will be able to enjoy a skate with the Eagles players.
EAGLES FUN FACTS:
– Eagles’ Defenceman Brent Schuldhaus did not dress for tonight’s game as he has an illness.
– It was the Eagles’ last game of the regular season vs a North division opponent. The Eagles’ record vs the North division is 10-6-2.
– The Eagles only have 6 games left to play in the regular season, with only 2 on home ice. After Monday’s game vs Okotoks, the Eagles will host the Drumheller Dragons on Friday, February 22 for their regular season game on home ice. The Eagles will then conclude their schedule with 3 road games, before the Playoffs get underway on March 7.
– Eagles’ Forward Max Giangualano was handed a 2-game suspension by the league for his major penalty for Cross-Checking.