A night after a near humiliating defeat to the Calgary Canucks, the Canmore Eagles bounced back with an impressive 5-3 win on home ice.
Playing at nearly full strength, the Eagles were much better on home ice than they were in Chestermere on Thursday night against the same team during this Alberta Junior Hockey League pre-season.
The Thursday contest was part of a split squad day for the Eagles with one unit playing at home and recording a 5-4 win over the Olds Grizzlys while the other team was enduring a 10-1 drubbing on the road by the Canucks.
All was set right for the junior A Eagles on Friday night at the Canmore Recereation Centre, although not without a few hiccups along the way as this is the pre-season and for the Eagles a whirlwind one at that with four games in three days.
The Canucks looked the better team in the early going of Friday's contest but it wasn't until the final minute of the opening period before there was any scoring and it was the Eagles that struck first.
Nolan Kurylo after blocking a shot at the Eagles' blue line started an odd-man rush and was rewarded with a goal at the other end of the ice, stuffing the puck in from the side of the net.
The Canucks struck back 32 seconds later as Matthew Painchaud knotted the game at 1-1.
The visitors outshot the home side 16-7 in the period.
The Canucks didn't take their foot off the peddle to start the second period continuing to pepper Eagles goalie Ryan Bontorin.
Ryan MacKinnon would give the Canucks the lead less than five minutes into the period.
It was Canmore's turn for a quick reply with Colby Livingstone finding himself unchecked at the right wing post when he received the puck with the goaltender covering off the far side.
The Eagles would take the lead with 11 seconds to play in the period when Adam Tisdale finished off a two-on-one rush by whipping a shot over replacement goaltender Kade Phipps' left shoulder.
After giving up plenty of shots early in the middle period, Canmore would rally but we're still outshot 18-17 in what was the most entertaining 20 minutes of this pre-season. It would get even better in the third period.
The Eagles came out at the start of the final period a more determined squad, putting the Calgary side on its heels. The visitors would take a pair of minors 19 seconds apart to give Canmore a lengthy five-on-three but they only needed nine seconds to score. Logan Ferguson flipping a shot over Phipps for a two-goal Canmore lead.
The Canucks would get back within one with a shorthanded goal less than 30 seconds later. Kyle Magus scoring off a two-on-one rush.
Braden Saretsky then iced the game with just under four minutes to play.
The shots on goal at the end of the game favoured the Canucks 43-35 with Bontorin going the distance for the Eagles. Ryan Ternes started for the Canucks and allowed two goals on 14 shots over 31 minutes, with Phipps surrendering three goals on 21 shots.
Next up for Canmore is the start of the regular season, which begins against the Calgary Mustangs on Friday, Sept. 16 followed by the Drumheller Dragons on Saturday, Sept. 17 (both games are 7 p.m., Canmore Recreation Centre.
EAGLES NEST: Andrew Milne, Eagles GM and head coach, is giving his players the weekend off. They will return to the ice on Monday. … Canmore finished the pre-season with a record of two wins and two losses. … All 16 teams will be in action on opening night, Friday, Sept. 16 with the defending league champion Brooks Bandits opening at home to the Okotoks Oilers. … Following the opening weekend home stand, the Eagles head out on the road for the first of their two three-games-in-three-days weekend this season, taking on Northern Division squads Fort MacMurray Oil Barons (Friday, Sept. 23), Spruce Grove Saints (Saturday, Sept. 4) and the Sherwood Park Crusaders (Sunday, Sept. 25).
For more from Russ at the Crag and Canyon – http://www.thecragandcanyon.ca/2016/09/10/eagles-nip-canucks-in-final-pre-season-game