PHOTO: The Canmore Eagles will open the New Year with a home and home series against the Okotoks Oilers on Jan. 2 and Jan. 3. Game time on Sunday Jan. 3 in Canmore is 2 PM.

Canmore at Okotoks – Saturday, Jan. 2 – 7 PM
Okotoks at Canmore – Sunday, Jan. 3 – 2 PM

When the Canmore Eagles open the 2016 portion of their 2015-16 Alberta Junior Hockey League season during the first week of January, they will soon find out if they are contenders or pretenders in the AJHL’s Southern Division standings.
The Eagles, who currently occupy fourth-place in the Southern Division standings with a respectable record of 18-13-4, will play five games against Southern Division opponents over the first nine days of January including a home and home series against the third-place Okotoks Oilers, a road game in Drumheller against the fifth-place Dragons and a pivotal two game home series against the second-place Camrose Kodiaks on the Jan, 8-9 weekend.
“I hope our players had a relaxing week off during the Christmas holidays and got the rest they needed because we have a very difficult schedule coming up,” said Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne, whose team entered the holidays with a disappointing 3-5-2 record over their last 10 games. “Our next seven games on the schedule are all against Southern Division teams so we’ll soon find out how we stack up against our competition.”
With the AJHL’s final trade deadline coming up on January 10, Milne will no doubt use the team’s upcoming five games to gauge the overall competitiveness of his hockey club.
“With Lloydminster hosting the RBC Cup this spring and at least five very strong teams in the Northern Division, I believe there will be a lot of player movement at the trade deadline this year as each contending team tries to add that missing ingredient to their lineup,” said Milne, who traditionally remains very quiet at the trade deadline. “I like our team’s chemistry right now and the direction we’re going, but these next five games will certainly tell the story as to how we stack up and what we might try to accomplish at the trade deadline.”
NOTEBOOK: In their three games against the Okotoks Oilers this season, the Eagles won a 6-5 shoot-out in Canmore on Sept. 22, lost a 4-3 shoot-out in Canmore on Oct. 6, and won 5-2 in Okotoks on Oct. 31. . . As the Eagles enter 2016, they currently have three players in the AJHL’s top 10 scoring parade. Matt Forchuk is in second-place with 48 points, Lane Olson is in ninth-place with 43 points and Logan Ferguson is in tenth-place with 42 points. . . .Canmore’s powerplay is the second-best in the AJHL as the Eagles have connected for 48 powerplay goals on 185 opportunities for a conversion rate of 26%. . . Just a reminder that Sunday, Jan. 3rd’s home game against Okotoks is a 2 PM start.