TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2012 – If there is one thing that the Canmore Eagles should not be suffering from as they prepare for the start of their 2012-2013 Alberta Junior Hockey League regular season, it would be over-confidence.
After missing the playoffs during the 2011-2012 season with a dismal 18-42 record, the Eagles know they have a lot to prove when the puck drops on their 2012-2013 regular season in Olds on Saturday, Sept. 8.
“Last year wasn’t a lot of fun for anyone,” said Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne, who is entering his fifth season at the helm. “We got off to a bad start winning just three of our first 20 games and had to play catch-up for the rest of the season. We certainly took our lumps, but we battled hard, never gave up, and just missed making the playoffs by a single game.”
The Eagles certainly didn’t gain any significant confidence during their 2012 pre-season either as they went winless in four exhibition games having lost 2-0 and 4-3 to the Olds Grizzlys, and a pair of overtime shoot-outs (5-4 and 6-5) to the Calgary Mustangs.
“Exhibition games don’t mean that much to me,” said Milne, in defending his troops. “We were competitive in all the games and when the games got close at the end, I put in my rookies to see how they would react. We got burned by a few costly mistakes, but that’s what exhibition hockey is all about. Overall, I liked how we played in the exhibition games. Our goaltending was a little sloppy at times and some of our veterans took some undisciplined penalties, but hopefully we can clean that up before the season starts. We should be good to go come Sept. 8.”
With training camp basically over and his starting roster pretty much determined, Milne believes his team can certainly improve on last year’s performance.
”We have 14 veteran players returning this year, so that’s a pretty good core to start with,” said Milne. “They are all bigger, faster, more experienced and know the ins and outs of the league a little better. We’ve also added a #1 goaltender in Ty Swabb, so hopefully he can make a difference in the close games. We lost 11 games by one goal last year, and another eight games by two goals. We were close. But until we start to string some wins together, talk is cheap. It’s time for the boys to prove that they are a better team.”
NOTEBOOK: As the Eagles prepare for their season opener in Olds, the AJHL schedule makers may have given the Eagles a slight advantage to start the year. The host Grizzlys will be playing their second game in as many nights against the Eagles as they will be hosting the always powerful Spruce Grove Saints in their season opener on Friday night. . . The Eagles will open their home portion of their 2012-2013 schedule on Friday, Sept. 14 against the Whitecourt Wolverines and will host the Spruce Grove Saints on Saturday, September 15.