Eagles flex talons against Mustangs

A three-goal third period gave the Canmore Eagles a 5-1 win over the Calgary Mustangs in Alberta Junior Hockey League action Saturday night.

Canmore ran its winning streak to six games and took sole possession of fourth place in the South Division playing before 490 fans at the Canmore Recreation Centre.

Five different players scored for Canmore including Jesse Sheen scoring his first junior A goal in his 49th game. Also scoring were league-leading points collector Matt Forchuk (his 22nd goal but first in nine games), Braden Saretsky (his team-leading 26th goal), Coy Prevost (19) and Dondre Watson (4).

Replying for the AJHL last-place Mustangs was Damon Porter (7).

“These are tough games to play because it is not easy for our guys to get up,” said Andrew Milne, Eagles GM and head coach. “It sounds bad and we needed the two points but at times we get a little bit lackadaisical. … We are learning how to win and be successful. If we come and trounce them it is positive for the offence but it doesn’t really help the mental side. And right now we want to build mentally strong players so they are ready for mentally tough situations in the playoffs.”

Canmore outshot the Mustangs 52-21 with Thomas Davis (9-3) in goal for the Eagles and Michael Barabash (3-12) in goal for the visitors. Both goaltenders were property of the Spruce Grove Saints to start this season.

Canmore’s power play was scoreless in eight changes against the league’s worst penalty killing unit. The Mustangs were scoreless in five power-play chances.

“Our power play was awful, not because of structure but because we weren’t there mentally,” said Milne. “How many did we shoot in (Barabash’s) chest.”

Forchuk had the lone first period goal at 15:09. He also picked up an assist to improve his league-best points total to 73 (22 goals and 51 assists).

The teams traded shorthanded goals in the second period with Prevost scoring his second shorthanded marker in as many games at 1:15. Porter replied for the Mustangs at 5:05.

Canmore outshot the Mustangs 24-10 in the second period with Barabash keeping his team in the game through the first 40 minutes.

“He’s done that before,” said Milne. “We knew going into (the game) we would probably have to fire 50 pucks at him because in the past he has played really well.”

In the third period, Saretsky at 7:44, Watson at 9:34 and Sheen at 10:04 assured the two points were in the win column for the Eagles.

Saretsky also finished with one assist to climb to sixth in league scoring with 58 points (26 goals and 32 assists.

Picking up two assists was Ferguson who is fourth overall in scoring at 68 points (25 goals and 43 assists).

But the hero of the night was Sheen who scored his first goal of the season.

“It felt good [getting that first goal],” said Sheen. “I just skated in and whacked at it. I felt it hit my stick so I celebrated.”

Colton Young had the first whack at the puck with the rebound sitting loose in the crease before Sheen pounced on it. Milne said everyone was happy for the hard-working, rookie defenceman.

“We were all excited,” said Milne. “He has been so good for us all season, coming in as a young guy playing top pairing minutes. He has been in on every penalty kill, plays in key situations against the other team’s top lines. So I am happy for him to finally get rewarded with a goal.”

Canmore (28-16-5) moved to solo fourth place with 61 points as the Camrose Kodiaks (28-19-3) lost 3-2 to the North Division Saints (32-15-5).

The Eagles moved within three points of the third-place Calgary Canucks (30-16-4) and remain four points back of the second-place Okotoks Oilers (30-15-5). The Oilers defeated the Canucks 3-2 in a shootout, coming back from a 2-0 first-period deficit.

The Mustangs (8-38-2) are currently on a three-game losing streak and are last overall in the AJHL. They host the Eagles on Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. at Father David Bauer Arena.

EAGLES NEST: Not suiting up for Canmore were F Jake Ashton and D Adamu Tanaka. … The Eagles play their next five games on the road including a doubleheader in Camrose against the Kodiaks on Thursday and Friday. … Camrose has to host the league-leading Brooks Bandits (40-4-4) on Tuesday before they take on the Eagles.


For more from Russ at the Crag and Canyon: http://www.thecragandcanyon.ca/2017/02/05/eagles-flex-talons-against-mustangs

Photo by : Pam Doyle Photography