Eagles hold onto sixth place

Eagles hold onto sixth place

The battle for playoff positioning comes down to the final two weeks of the regular season.

The play-in tournament is in play for the bottom six teams in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Canmore Eagles holding onto the coveted sixth place. That would put the team in line to take on the 11th place Olds Grizzlys in a best-of-five series to decide one of three playoff spots.

A preview of two possible playoff scenarios Canmore may face was previewed this past week, as they took on the Fort McMurray Oil Barons for two games and the Grizzlys in the other game. The Eagles took five of a possible six points to hold onto sixth place with a record of 23-28-2-1 for 49 points. In three home games over the past week, the Eagles defeated the Oil Barons 6-3 on Thursday (Feb. 13), then lost 5-4 in overtime to the Oil Barons on Saturday (Feb. 17). The week ended with a Family Day Matinee (Monday, Feb. 19) with the Eagles defeating the Grizzlys 6-4.

The 49 points is one point better than the surging seventh-place Camrose Kodiaks (20-27-0-6) and two points more than the struggling eighth-place Grande Prairie Storm (20-25-4-3). The Eagles and Kodiaks each have three games remaining while the Storm has five games left in their regular season.

Canmore’s remaining games include heading to Olds on Friday, Feb. 23, hosting the Calgary Canucks on Tuesday, Feb. 27 and travelling to Camrose on Fridy, March 1. The Kodiaks are in Bonnyville to take on the second-place Pontiacs on Wednesday, Feb. 21 and host the fifth-place Lloydminster Bobcats on Saturday, Feb. 24 before finishing up the regular season against the Eagles. The Storm hosts the third-place Drumheller Dragons for two games, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 24-25, followed by a road game against first-place Whitecourt Wolverines on Wednesday, Feb. 28, and finish up with a two-game weekend series at home against Fort McMurray on Friday and Saturday, March 1-2.

The Drayton Valley Thunder and Fort McMurray, both on 38 points, are in their own battle for ninth and 10th places, with the Thunder having a game in hand.

At the top of the standings: Whitecourt has 65 points, while Bonnyville has 61 points, followed by Drumheller at 60 points, Calgary at 59 points and Lloydminster at 58 points, meaning there could be plenty of movement between second and fifth over the final few games, and possibly even top spot if the Wolverines slip up over their final six games.

Oil Barons 3 at Eagles 6

Two goals each by Ethan Look, giving him seven goals on the season, and Zach Coutu, up to eight goals, allowed Canmore to skate away from Fort McMurray after falling behind 3-2 early in the second period.

Coutu’s goal at 6:42 of the first period gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead.

Then in a six-goal second period, Fort McMurray took the lead in the opening 90 seconds on goals by Carter Schmidt and Keenan Ingram. Tyler Loughman tied the game with his 17th goal of the season at 6:48. Demitri DiFlorio restored the Oil Barons lead at 16:14. Look got his first of the game at 18:07 followed by Kayden Rawji’s game winner 46 seconds later, pouncing on a rebound and backhanding the puck past the fallen Oil Barons’ goaltender for his 10th goal of the season.

Look and Coutulead then each scored their second goals of the game in the final period.

Canmore outshot Fort McMurray 44-32, with Matthew Malin in goal for the Eagles and Cage Stewart in goal for the Oil Barons.

On the power play, Canmore was 1-for-4 and Fort McMurray was 0-for-3.

Oil Barons 5 at Eagles 4 (OT)

Canmore built a 3-0 lead only to surrender four consecutive goals before overtime was needed to decide the winner.

Two goals by Rhett Dekowny, giving him 14 goals on the season, and Casey Black’s fifth goal, had the Eagles in front 3-0 early in the second period.

Schmidt then scored inside of two minutes on either side of the second break to make it a one-goal game. Reis Nyland and Kyle Marsden then followed with goals to give the visiting Oil Barons a 4-3 just 6:37 into the third period.

Nathan McPherson-Ridgewell scored his 11th goal of the season at 11:10 off cross-ice pass from Brody Mortensen, rounding the goaltender to put in a backhander which took the game to overtime.

At 2:01 of the 3-on-3 session, a crease-crashing Zayden Sadlemyer, got his stick on a Schmidt pass to direct the puck past Malin for the game-winning goal.

Fort McMurray outshot Canmore 43-27 with Stewart again in goal for the Oil Barons.

On the power play, Canmore was 1-for-8 and Fort McMurray was 1-for-6.

Grizzlys 4 at Eagles 6

A hat trick by Tyler Loughman, to become the second Eagles’ player to reach 20 goals on the season, proved the difference in this game against an Olds team that showed no quit despite going down by four goals in the second period.

Rhett Dekowny finished the game with four points: his 15th goal of the season and three assists, while Haruki Morikawa ended a 14-game scoring slump with a goal, his fourth of his rookie campaign, and one assist.

Loughman opened the scoring at 3:08 of the first period, followed by Morikawa’s goal just 13 seconds later. Gage Giblin would get one back for Olds in the period.

The teams traded goals in the second period, Loughman with his second of the game and Junshi Hideshima for Olds, before the Eagles scored three times to take a 6-2 lead into the second break. During a 4-on-4 scenario, Loughman completed his hat tick at 13:11 followed seven seconds later by Dekowny’s goal. Ethan Look completed the Eagles’ four-goal second period with his eighth of the season at 17:29.

Olds came out quickly in the third period catching Canmore on the back foot and goals 20 seconds in by Greye Rampton and at 1:11 by Brodie Hankel made it unnecessarily nervy through to the end of the game.

Canmore outshot Olds 33-27 with Matthew Kieper in goal for the Eagles and Aidan Comeau in goal for the Grizzlys.

Neither team scored a power-play goal, with Canmore afforded four chances and Olds three opportunities.

In what might be the preview of a playoff play-in series between Canmore and Olds, the Eagles won three of the four meetings with two of those wins by two goals (5-3 in Olds on Nov. 21 and Monday’s game) and the other by three goals due to an empty net marker (5-2 at Olds on Dec. 6). The Grizzlys won 2-1 in Canmore on Nov. 26.