This wasn’t the kind of shot-slinging game the Canmore Eagles and Olds Grizzlys were involved in a week ago but Sunday’s Alberta Junior Hockey League was decided by a shootout.
Seven days ago, Canmore rallied back from a 4-0 deficit to defeat hometown Olds 6-5 in a game that featured 86 shots, while Sunday’s matinee before 413 fans at the Canmore Recreation Centre saw the Eagles give away the lead and need to go four rounds into a shootout to pull out a 4-3 win.
Canmore has been involved in six consecutive one-goal games this month, winning just two of those —both against the Grizzlys. Those two wins have helped the Eagles extend their lead over the cellar-dwelling Grizzlys to eight points.
“We are trying to get things together we are good at times but structurally we kind of lose it and panic a bit,” said Eagles veteran defence Jesse Sheen. “We saw that today when they tied it up.
“We need to stay focussed. I think it might be because we are a little young and still learning but I think we should have closed this one out.”
On Sunday, the Eagles would lead 2-0 and 3-1, with the Grizzlys coming back in the third period and scoring with 53.3 seconds left in the third period to force the game to overtime.
The two teams played an exciting five minutes of 3-on-3 that featured nine shots but would have to go to the next stage of the tie-breaking system and need to go an extra round in the process.
In the end, Max Giangualano would get the decisive goal, firing a shot just inside the right-wing post past Olds goaltender Dunacn Hughes to put Canmore in front. The game was won when Grizzly Owen Guenter had the puck slide off his stick as he tried to go backhand on Eagles netminder Logan Dyck.
Canmore got regulation time goals came from Quinton Ong (14 this season), Daniel Fisher (5) and Giangualano (12).
Olds goals came from Dalton Ossman (5), Matthew Myatt (1) and Josh Borynec (13).
In the shootout, Borynec would put Olds up in the second round with Colton Young tying it in the third round.
Canmore outshot Olds 41-26 with Dyck (7-7, 3.04 GAA) and Hughes (0-1, 2.81) going the distance in goal for their respective teams.
Hughes was one of four affiliate players used in this game – two by each team. Canmore dressed defence James Philpott and forward Ryan Shostak, both from the Calgary Buffaloes midget AAA squad.
The Eagles’ additions were necessitated with the Taden Rattie (foot) and Trevor Van Steinburg (foot) both out with injuries.
Olds had Hughes, from the Red Deer Chiefs midget AAA, and Myatt, from the Mountain View Colts junior B of the Heritage Junior Hockey League.
Ong scored the game’s first goal, 5:18 into the opening period. The Eagles’ rookie forward used his speed to get behind the Olds’ defence and then beat Hughes with a backhand shot over the goaltender’s right pad.
Fisher would make it 2-0 at 16:02 when he collected a rebound in front of the Olds’ goal and shoveled the puck into the net.
Ossman would get a power-play goal for Olds at 18:01, when Eagles’ Daly Hamilton had the puck deflect off his stick into the goal on what was an intended pass by the Grizzly.
In the second period, the Eagles would regain their two-goal lead at 16:15 when Giangualano rifled home the puck from off the right-wing post off a pass from Connor Lyons as he emerged from behind the net.
Olds scored twice in the third period.
Myatt fired a shot from the right wing boards just above the face-off dot that beat Dyck far side at 15:55
The Grizzlys then pulled their goaltender with just under two minutes to play, and Borynec scored at 19:06 from close in on goal as the visitors pressed.
Andrew Milne, Eagles GM and head coach felt the game should never have gotten to overtime.
“I thought mentally we were very weak tonight,” said Milne. “We saw the first period go OK but we got fragile in the second and in the third even more fragile. I mean, we found a way to win, but we didn’t need to play like that for the last 40 [minutes]. We should have played a lot stronger.
Canmore (19-24-2) holds down seventh place in the South Division as it extended its lead over Olds (15-28-2), who have lost all seven games they have played since the calendar turned over to 2018. The Eagles are also now also just one point back of both the Camrose Kodiaks (15-18-11) and Calgary Canucks (20-24-1).
With the result, Sheen says a widening point differential means the team can now stop looking over its collective shoulder and focus on what lays ahead, mainly a chance to finish as high as third in the division, adding “but we are going to have to win those one-goal games.”
Canmore next plays Tuesday in Banff against the Okotoks Oilers (36-6-2, first overall).
“They are big, physical hard-working team,” said Sheen, who also noted the Eagles can learn from the Oilers as they are also one of the younger squads in the league this season.
“We need to spark our young guys to come out hot,” he added.
EAGLES NEST: Canmore’s power play was 1-for-4 while Olds went 1-for-3. … Eagles F Connor Lyons picked up an assist and has seven points (two goals and five assists) in six games since being acquired for Coy Prevost on Jan. 10. … D Carson Romeril left the team this weekend after being a healthy scratch on Friday. … Following Tuesday’s game, the Eagles head to Brooks this coming Friday and complete January with a home matinee against the Calgary Canucks on Sunday, Jan. 28 (2:30 p.m., Canmore Rec Centre).