For the 2nd consecutive game, the Canmore Eagles were playing a team that is sitting at the top of its division. After falling to the top team in the South division, the Brooks Bandits on Tuesday night in Canmore, the Eagles travelled to the Northeast part of the province to take on the top team in the North division, the Bonnyville Pontiacs. The Eagles were facing a red hot Pontiac team that was on a 5-game winning streak and had outscored their opponents by a 27-5 margin in that stretch. The Eagles certainly showed that they can go toe-to-toe with the best teams in the AJHL as they stunned the Pontiacs 5-4 in Overtime.
A big win for the Eagles who improve their record to 25-19-5 for 55 points. However, the Eagles remain in 6th Place in the tight AJHL South division, the Eagles gained ground on the 2 teams ahead of them in the standings as they are only a single point back of the 5th Place Camrose Kodiaks and 2 points back of the 4th Place Calgary Mustangs.
In tonight’s win, the Eagles were lead by 17-year old Forward Alex Young who recorded a hat trick (29, 30 & 31) and he also added 2 assists for a 5 point night. Connor Lyons scored the other Eagles’ goals (19 & 20), including the game winner in Overtime. The Lyons-Young-Reith line combined for a total of 11 points, as Lyons and Reith each had a 3-point game.
“We played well all night and Alex was unstoppable,” said Eagles’ Head Coach/General Manager Andrew Milne.
The Eagles had to battle back a few times, as they were able to erase 2 deficits. Bonnyville got on the board first only 3 minutes into the 1st, but the Eagles’ answered back 40 seconds later on Alex Young’s first of 3 goals. Bonnyville regained the lead before the end of the 1st with a Power Play goal at 18:44. The Pontiacs gave themselves a 2-goal lead by scoring at 2:06 of the middle frame. The Eagles answered back on a goal from Connor Lyons at 7:49 of the 2nd period, then Alex Young with his 2nd of the game tied the game at 3-3, at 15:15. The score remained tied 3-3 until late in the 3rd period, when Alex Young scored a Power Play goal with 1:39 left in regulation to complete the hat trick and give the Eagles their 1st lead of the game. Bonnyville pulled their goalie for an extra attacker to try to tie the game. The Eagles had a few chances to seal the victory with an empty net goal, but a couple of their tries missed the net and even one hit the post.
With the Pontiacs pressing in the Eagles’ zone in the dying seconds of regulation time, they were able to tie the game and force Overtime with only 1 second left. However, the Eagles did not let that goal deflate them, as Connor Lyons pounced on a loose puck to end the contest only 48 seconds into the 3 on 3 five-minute Overtime period.
Coach Milne credited the entire team for this big road win saying, “It takes a total team effort to beat a team like Bonnyville.”
One player who really stood out and was a key in the victory was netminder Logan Dyck. He stopped 35 of the 39 shots he faced to improve his record to 14-12-2.
“I thought Logan played great and made some amazing saves, especially late in the 3rd period,” said Coach Milne.
The Eagles wrap up their weekend road trip tonight as they head to the Border City to take on the Lloydminster Bobcats (9-38-1). Unlike the Pontiacs, the Bobcats have not had a lot of success this season as they are sitting in last place in the North Division and the last playoff spot in their division is almost out of reach with the Whitecourt Wolverines who are 21 points ahead of the Bobcats.
“We need to carry over from last night’s game and play the same way,” said Coach Milne regarding Saturday’s game. It will be the 3rd and final time that the Eagles and the Bobcats will face-off this season. The Eagles won the first 2 games by scores of 3-2 in a Shootout back on September 29 at the AJHL Showcase in Camrose and 8-2 on December 15 in Canmore. Puck drop is 7:30 pm.
After Saturday's game, the Eagles will be back on home ice next weekend to start off a 4-game homestand.
EAGLES FUN FACTS:
– Alex Young’s hat trick was the 4th of his AJHL career and his 3rd this season. What is amazing about his hat tricks is that his last 2 were against a team that was in 1st Place in its division. His most recent hat trick came on January 4th against the Sherwood Park Crusaders who were in possession of 1st Place in the North division at the time. Young is now 4th in the AJHL scoring race with 31 goals and 64 points in 48 games.
– The Eagles have had success at the R.J Lalonde Arena in Bonnyville in recent years as last night was their 5th win in their last 7 visits in the home of the “small neutral zone”. Prior to that, the Eagles had lost 8 straight in Bonnyville (2004-2012).
– Saturday’s game will be the Eagles’ final road game vs a Northern team this season. After tonight’s game, the Eagles will only have 10 more games to play in the regular season with only one against a North division opponent. The Eagles will also play their only game of the season outside of the Province of Alberta. Why? Well, that’s because the Lloydminster Bobcats’ home, the Civic Centennial Arena is located on the Saskatchewan side of the Border City. So 3 Eagles players, Quinton Ong, Tian Rask and Michael Spafford will play in their home Province of Saskatchewan.