Braden Saretsky doesn’t want to pinch himself.
It has been a dream start to his final junior A hockey season even though the Canmore Eagles found it hard to parlay his early season prowess with the puck into wins on a weekend road trip.
The 20-year-old, second-year player has scored five goals in five games. It is not so much that he is scoring at a goal-a-game rate, which is certainly noteworthy, but when he is getting those goals.
All of his goals have been the first goal scored by his Alberta Junior Hockey League club in each of its first five games of this season:
q He scored at 8:58 of the first period in a season opening 6-0 win over the Calgary Mustangs on Sept. 16;
q He scored at 1:47 of the first period to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead in a 5-3 win over the Drumheller Dragons on Sept. 17;
q He scored at 13:31 of the first period, with his power-play goal tying the game at 1-1, in a 6-3 loss to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons on Friday;
q He scored at 4:57 of the first period to give his team a 1-0 lead in a 7-4 loss to the Spruce Grove Saints on Saturday;
q He scored at 19:39 of the first period to tie the game at 1-1 in a 6-2 loss to the Sherwood Park Crusaders on Sunday.
“I seem to be getting chances early in the game, and maybe I have been taking advantage of those chances,” said Saretsky, who finished last season with 17 goals and 37 points.
He also has three assists this season and eight points through five games, which has him tied for second in AJHL scoring, trailing only teammate Matt Forchuk who has nine points (3G-6A).
“I think it is a matter of confidence, and I only have one more season to gain a scholarship to the States so I have to buckle down and play the best I can play,” said Saretsky.
“The difference between last year and this year is I was getting used to the league, may not have had as much confidence and not as much ice time.
“I think last year, I proved I can put up points when I need to and I am getting the opportunity to this year. I also have to give some props to my teammates this year.”
Saretsky was lined up with Adam Tisdale and Coy Prevost on the weekend. The line played together for most of last season.
Prior to making the move to Canmore, Saretsky played junior B in Kimberley with the championship winning Dynamiters, and prior to that, the Summerland Steam and Penticton Lakers.
The 2014-15 Dynamiters, to which Saretsky was traded mid-season, won the Kootenay International Hockey League championship. Also on that team were current Eagles Prevost, Jonas Gordon and Trevor Van Steinburg. Another current Eagle, Tyler Van Steinburg, also played a couple of games with the Dynamiters that season although he spent most of that year at the major midget level.
“They have a good program there, good coaching with their main goal to get players to junior A, and they do a pretty good job,” said Saretsky, who wishes the Dynamiters plenty of future success.
Saretsky, who calls West Kelowna home, added he would trade any of his last three goals for a victory as Canmore went winless in three games in North Division arenas and saw its season record slip to two wins and three losses for fifth place in the South.
“We have high expectations of ourselves and definitely wish we could have gotten some wins,” he said. “We have to now put it away and move on (and) get ready for the Showcase and get a couple of big wins.”
Canmore heads back on the road this week for the annual AJHL Showcase, which runs Thursday through Saturday in Camrose and features all 16 teams. The event is a chance to showcase all the players in a central location to various scouts from professional, university and other junior organizations.
The Eagles will play two games in Encana Arena, taking on Spruce Grove on Thursday, beginning at 4:30 p.m., and the Drayton Valley Thunder on Friday, beginning at noon.
Well, if Saretsky is living a dream, he hopes no one pinches him until hockey season is over.
EAGLES NEST: The Canmore Eagles’ fifth annual Town Party is Saturday at the Canmore Golf and Curling Club. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Can-Bow Motors, Lockwood Autobody, Canmore Printcraft and Heart Mountain Store. … The AJHL offensive player of the week is Tanner Younghans of the Sherwood Park Crusaders, who registered 7 points (4G-3A) in three games last week. … The AJHL defensive player of the week is Dennis Cesana of the Brooks Bandits. The 18-year-old rookie, who has committed to NCAA Div. 1 school Army, had 6 points (1G-5A) in three games last week. … Complete game recaps, including photos for all Eagles’ games, can be found online after every game at thecragandcanyon.ca/sports.
For more from Russ – http://www.thecragandcanyon.ca/2016/09/28/eagles-saretsky-has-scoring-touch