After playing some good Hockey in their 3 games last week without getting rewarded, the Canmore Eagles were able to get back in the win column Monday night in front of 340 fans at the Canmore Rec Centre as they downed the visiting Drayton Valley 5-3. With the win, the Eagles move within a point of the Camrose Kodiaks for 4th place in the AJHL South Division with a record of 9-13-3 for 21 points.
?It feels good to be back in the win column,? said Eagles Assistant Coach/Assistant General Manager Evan McFeeters who was the team?s acting Head Coach tonight in absence of Head Coach/General Manager Andrew Milne. ?Our guys were itching to get this feeling back. It?s not that we?ve been playing poorly. I thought we played a good game against Spruce Grove. We didn?t finish the job against them, so we had some extra motivation tonight to protect our home ice and to play to the best of our availabilities.?
The Eagles struck first early in the opening period when Connor Lyons sniped his 18th of the season at 1:29. Zach Carlson and Carter Coles picked up the assists. Less than a minute later, the visitors answered back to tie the game on a goal from Henry Wagner at 2:20. The Eagles regained the lead at 16:14 on a power-play goal from Zach Carlson, his 5th of the season. Max Giangualano and Lane Paddison got the assists.
In the 2nd period, the Eagles extended their lead on a power-play goal from Defenceman Brent Schuldhaus at 12:01. It was his 6th goal of the season with Giangualano picking up another assist. The Thunder answered to cut the Eagles lead on a goal from Dexton Mozell at 15:43. The Eagles though regained their 2-goal cushion on a highlight-reel goal from Alex Young at 17:06. But before the end of the period, the Thunder once again got within one on a power-play goal from Kadyn Chabot at 18:54.
Only one goal was scored in the 3rd period and it came from Alex Young at 5:09. It was Young?s 2nd of the game and his 18th of the season to seal the Eagles victory.
?It?s definitely a weight off my back because I haven?t been scoring as much as earlier in the season,? said Young after the game. ?Just to get a couple of goals tonight, I think it makes me play a little more relaxed out there.?
After Young?s 2nd goal, the Thunder had some good chances to get back in the game, as they got 3 power-play opportunities within 6:16, but the Eagles penalty kill did a great job at keeping the Thunder at bay to help preserve the win. The Eagles penalty kill unit has been struggling for most of the season, but Coach McFeeters was really happy to see the unit doing such a great job tonight saying, ?It?s going to give our penalty kill a boost. They know they can kill penalties now in tough situations if they stick to the structure. They compete and understand that part of the penalty kill is sacrificing your body in some situations to block shots and getting into the lanes and that extra effort of having 4 guys against 5. Moving forward, we will definitely show the video on tonight?s penalty kill and use that as a learning tool.?
It was rookie Devin Chapman who got the start between the pipes. The 18-year-old netminder from Williams Lake, BC stopped 34 of the 37 shots he faced to earn his first win since October 11. The final shots on goal were 37-31 in favour of Drayton Valley.
?Great bounce back game by Devin,? said Coach McFeeters. ?He?s been putting a lot of work in and it?s nice to see him put the work in and get rewarded. I think it was a good performance. It wasn?t just a win for him, he was a big factor for us and it feels good. He?s going to have some confidence going forward.?
The Eagles now get a couple of days to get prepared for another set of challenging games this weekend. On Friday night, the Eagles travel to Drumheller looking for some redemption against the Dragons (13-9-2) who defeated the Eagles in overtime in both of the first two meetings between the two teams this season. Then on Saturday night, the Eagles welcome the 2nd place team in the South Division and #6 team in Canada, the Okotoks Oilers (20-2-2). It will be the Oilers? first trip to the Rec Centre this season as the first two games between the 2 teams were played in Okotoks. Puck drop is 7 pm.
?We know how both teams play,” said Coach McFeeters, “We know what their strengths are and we know what our team strengths are. We have the next 3 days to prepare for those two divisional matchups. We?re gonna have to make up some points in the standings here. These are the teams we have to do it against. We have success here at the Rec Centre. We have some unfinished business against Drumheller. It seems like every game goes to overtime. We expect another tight game and if it goes to overtime, let?s hope we can come on top this time.?
EAGLES FUN FACTS:
– Eagles rookie Defenceman Dylan Witzke was serving the final game of a two-game suspension he was handed after the game in Okotoks last Friday. He is eligible to return to the lineup on Friday night in Drumheller.