Eagles mop up MOB

Eagles mop up MOB

The Canmore Eagles completed a three-game sweep of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons on Sunday (March 10) night to advance out of the Alberta Junior Hockey League play-in event.

Kayden Rawji scored 43 seconds into overtime to put Canmore into the AJHL playoffs. The Eagles will take on either the second-place Lloydminster Bobcats or third-place Calgary Canucks depending on how the other two play-ins finish.

After winning the opening two games in Canmore – 4-0 and 4-1 – the Eagles travelled to Fort McMurray for the third game of the series. The Eagles took a 1-0 lead in the first period on Brody Mortensen’s shot from near the blue line that beat Oil Barons’ goaltender Cage Stewart blocker side.

After a penalty filled opening period that featured 14 minutes of power play time between the two teams, the Oil Barons, with their season on the line, put together a strong second period and were rewarded with two goals inside seven minutes. Carter Schmidt, who returned to the lineup after missing the opening two games due to suspension, poked home a loose puck for a shorthanded goal to even the score. Jaxon Priddle then rifled home a pass from Demitri DiFlorio, who also missed the opening two games due to suspension, to put the home side back on even terms.

In the third period, Canmore would tie the game with the only power-play goal of the game at 15:49. Nathan McPherson-Ridgewell, standing just off the right-wing post, smashed home a cross-ice pass from Owen Jones.

Fort McMurray would get two scoring chances in opening 30 seconds of overtime but would get caught for a 3-on-2 when Brody Tallman cleared the puck to Logan Ziegler near centre ice, who would find Rawji to his left. The fan favourite would break in down the left wing getting near the goal where his centring pass, intended for Riley Dekowny, deflected off an Oil Baron defender and past a sprawling Stewart.

Canmore, which finished seventh in the regular season, must now wait to find out its next opponent. Teams will be reseeded for the playoffs once the play-ins are completed. The other play-ins will contest Game 4s Monday (March 11) with the sixth-place Grande Prairie Storm taking on the 11th-place Olds Grizzlies and the eighth-place Camrose Kodiaks versus the ninth-place Drayton Valley Thunder. The Storm grabbed a 2-1 series lead with a 4-3 overtime win on Sunday. The Kodiaks hold a 2-1 lead on the Thunder with a 5-3 win, also on Sunday.

The top five from this past regular season, who all earned byes into the playoffs, are the Whitecourt Wolverines, Lloydminster Bobcats, Calgary Canucks, Bonnyville Pontiacs and Drumheller Dragons, who finished first to fifth respectively. The schedule for the first-round of the best-of-seven playoffs will be released following the conclusion of the play-in round.