EAGLES FORCE A DECISIVE GAME 7!
“I”™m really proud of the way the guys played and this series is definitely not over”. Those were words from Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne after the Eagles fell just short in Game five in Camrose on Friday night. After losing that game, the Eagles found themselves with their backs against the wall as they had to win Game six at the Canmore Recreation Centre yesterday in order to keep their season alive. Well, the Eagles players proved that their bench boss was absolutely correct, as they took down the visiting Camrose Kodiaks 5-2 to even the series at three games apiece and force a decisive Game seven at the Encana Arena in Camrose on Tuesday night.
“I thought we played with a lot of character, we talked about that from last game being down by three, coming back and playing two really good periods in the back half of that game and our guys responded really well. You saw it today, the character of our guys played through. I thought in the first period, we were a little bit off, they came pretty hard and Manny (Andreai Proctor-Ramirez) did his job. That”™s why he”™s our MVP and our best player. I thought he was outstanding today, but the reality is that a bunch of guys stepped up and played big minutes when relied on. Emanuel Hudson came back in the lineup and played awesome, I thought Cunningham was outstanding, Lusok, Bidyk, obviously Drae (Gardiner) and Cheeto (Cale Lyons) have been phenomenal. To get those guys to play as hard as they have all series has been great to see. I”™m happy for the guys” says Coach Milne.
The Eagles took the lead at 4:23 of the first period when Banff native Max Monette cashed in on a beautiful pass from Midget AAA Affiliate and Canmore product Owen Jones to make it 1-0 Eagles. It was Monette”™s first goal of the playoffs. Drae Gardiner also got an assist. The visitors took advantage of an Eagles”™ giveaway in their own end to tie the game as Michael Horon was the beneficiary at 8:35. But just before the end of the opening period, the Eagles reclaimed the lead as Forward Kyle Young scored a highlight reel goal with 17 seconds left. Braden Plaschewsky and Cale Lyons picked up the assists.
In the second period, the Eagles took advantage of a power play opportunity to add to their lead as Mitchell Watson jumped on a rebound at 8:35 for his second of the playoffs to make it 3-1 Eagles. Riley Dekowny and Drae Gardiner drew the assists. The Eagles got themselves in some trouble in the later stages of the second period, as Dekowny got a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct for a hit to the head on Kodiaks Defenceman Blake Kondor. Being on the power play when the penalty was called, the Eagles had to defend themselves a man short for 4:01 and the penalty kill did an outstanding job keeping the Kodiaks at bay, however the Kodiaks were able to score just one second after the penalty expired, at 18:22 on a goal from Tio D”™Addario to cut the Eagles”™ to one heading into the second intermission.
Despite entering the third period with two men short (Nathan Ellis also leaving the game in the second period), the Eagles did not let that bother them and they were to pull the game away from the visitors as Kyle Young scored his second of the game on a nice solo effort at 8:03. Then at 18:36, Braden Plaschewsky sealed the Eagles victory off of a nice feed from Young to make it 5-2 Eagles.
Final shots on goal were 49-28 in favour of Camrose. Proctor-Ramirez made 47 saves, while Kodiaks goalie Spencer Welke made 23 saves on 28 shots. The Eagles”™ penalty kill was 100% (3-for-3) and the power play went 1-for-5.
Coach Milne admired his team for being able to get out of that long penalty kill late in the second saying: “Obviously for us, it was a tough five-minutes to kill, but our penalty kill has been awesome. I think at times, even though they”™ve got some goals, we”™ve been committed to it and our guys have been really good at it. You look at Vinnie Scott, Mitch Watson and those guys have played such heavy heart minutes and that is driving the group right now. That type of attitude and effort is contagious and I think that”™s what has happened to our Hockey club”.
So here we go again! Just like in the last series between the two teams two years ago, a decisive Game seven is needed to determine who advances to the next round. Six Eagles players, including 20 year-old Defenceman and Alternate Captain Cale Lyons remember all too well what happened in that game seven the Eagles and they will certainly want to see a different result this time and see their Junior Hockey career continuing past Tuesday night.
“We just need to stick to our game plan, we believe in the guys in our room and that we can bring it out again and just outwork them” says Lyons.
Game time for Tuesday night”™s Game seven is 7 pm. The Eagles will have a fan bus trip going to Camrose.
AROUND THE AJHL PLAYOFFS: The series between the Eagles and the Kodiaks is the only one in the opening round that will require a Game seven. In the other remaining series in the South; the Drumheller Dragons eliminated the Calgary Canucks with a 4-3 win in Game six yesterday, despite a hard fought effort in the series from the Canucks who finished 40 points behind the Dragons in the regular season. On Tuesday, if the Eagles win the series, they will face the number one seed Brooks Bandits in the second round, while the Dragons would take on the Okotoks Oilers who made short work of the Blackfalds Bulldogs, sweeping them in four straight games. If the Kodiaks win, they will take on the Dragons, while the Oilers and the Bandits will clash.
In the North Division; all second round matchups are now set after the Whitecourt Wolverines sent the Bonnyville Pontiacs packing with a 4-1 win in Game six. The Wolverines will faceoff against the top seeded Spruce Grove Saints who will be coming off a bye. The other North Division series will feature the 4th seeded Drayton Valley Thunder vs the 2nd seeded Fort McMurray Oil Barons.
Round two is expected to begin on Friday night (March 18th).