For the Canmore Eagles’ final game before the Christmas break, the 464 fans at the Canmore Recreation Centre were certainly treated to a “barn burner”. Goals came in abundance just like presents for Christmas, as the Eagles defeated the visiting Camrose Kodiaks by a score of 7-5. The Eagles head into the Christmas break on a 3-game winning streak and find themselves in a share of 4th Place in the tight AJHL South Division with Camrose and a record of 19-12-3 for 41 points. The Okotoks Oilers took sole possession of 3rd Place with a 4-1 win over the 2nd Place Drumheller Dragons. Okotoks has 43 points, while Drumheller has 46 points.

In the first 2 periods, on 3 different occasions, the Eagles took a lead but saw the Kodiaks come back to tie the game. After the Kodiaks knotted the game at 5-5 with 3:22 left in the middle frame, the Eagles’ coaching staff decided to pull goalie Logan Dyck for Thomas Davis.

“We just felt the time after the 5th goal was just momentum,” said Eagles’ Assistant Coach/Assistant General Manager Evan McFeeters. “We had just gone up by 2 goals and they fought back for the 2nd time to tie it. We wanted to slow the game down, control the game. Putting Tommy in the net gave our guys a bit of a spark. After that, we didn’t give up too many on the defensive side and we ended controlling the puck. Logan was ok tonight, our team was really good, that’s why we have 2 good goalies and that’s why we have 20 strong players.”

The goalie change was certainly a game changer for the Eagles, as they were able to weather the storm and regain the lead in the 3rd period with 2 goals. Thomas Davis stopped all 9 shots he faced after taking over for Logan Dyck who made 12 saves on 17 shots. For the 3rd straight game, the Eagles outshot their opponent by a wide margin, as the shots were 49-26.
In their current 3-game winning streak, the Eagles’ offence has been firing on all cylinders as Canmore has scored 21 goals in the last 3 games.

“It starts with possession of the puck,” said Coach McFeeters. “We’re not throwing the puck away and hoping to get it back. We have a plan to retrieve the puck, we have a plan to keep the puck and we have to plan to get the puck to the net. And a lot of it has been just being quick on the forecheck. As soon as we have one opportunity, we don’t want to be one and done, we want to have 4, 5, 6 and done. And be relentless on the forecheck. The last 3 games, we pilled on some shots, we had opportunities and the pucks have gone into the net. The shot quality has been there, the shot volume has been there. Some nights it goes in for us and tonight was one of those nights.”

Defenceman Brent Schuldhaus who was acquired from the Spruce Grove Saints almost 3 weeks ago scored twice (4th & 5th), his first 2 goals as an Eagle. The other goals came from Quinton Ong (12th), Alex Young (18th), Tian Rask (11th), Michael Spafford (7th) and Mark Drohan (7th). Owen Reith picked 3 assists. Rask, Alex Young and Finn Whithey had 2 points each. For Whithey who joined the Eagles on December 1 after playing the VIJHL, it was his first 2 points as an Eagle.
The Eagles now get to enjoy a 1-week break. The players will be back in town on Boxing Day to practice and get ready to take on the top team in the league, the Brooks Bandits (32-3) for a home-and-home series. The first game will be played at Canmore Recreation Centre on Friday, December 28 at 7 pm, while the return game will be played the following night in Brooks.

“They will get 4 or 5 days to visit mom and dad, grandma, grandpa and their sibling,” said Coach McFeeters. “They are going to enjoy some quiet time away from the rink. They are going to come back on Boxing Day re-energized to continue on this bit of a roll we are on here. We know that our schedule after the break has a lot of games in a short amount of time against some really good opponents in our league, so we have to be prepared. These guys deserve the break. They’ve been going in a very hard division for the last 4 months and they’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do, so it’s a very well deserved break.”

– The Eagles have the exact same record as at the Christmas break in the 2016-17 season.
– After hosting the Brooks Bandits in their 1st game after the Christmas break, the Eagles will play their following 5 games on the road. The Eagles’ 1st home game in 2019 will be Sunday, January 13 for an afternoon game vs the Calgary Canucks.
– In their current 3-game winning streak, the Eagles have outshot their opponents by a margin of 137-64. The Eagles have only been outshot once in their last 12 games and that was against the top team in the league, the Brooks Bandits.
– The Eagles have 6 players with 30+ points this season (Colton Young, Alex Young, Drohan, Giangualano, Ong and Lyons). The only other team in the AJHL who have as many players with 30+ points are the Brooks Bandits.
Photo from Pam Doyle Photography