After silencing the high powered Brooks Bandits in back-to-back games, the Canmore Eagles were looking to do something no team in the AJHL had been able to do since January 1st; defeat the Okotoks Oilers. Going into the game, the Oilers who took over the top spot in the AJHL South Division a week ago, after they beat Brooks in consecutive games, were riding a 13-game win streak and were also ranked the no. 2 team in Canada earlier this week. Those two impressive stats did not stop the Eagles from keeping their win streak alive as they edged the Oilers 5-4 in a shootout in front of 845 fans at Pason Centennial Arena in Okotoks.
The Eagles win streak is now at 4 games and their season record improves to 22-25-4 for 48 points. In the South Division standings, the Eagles remain 9 points back of the Camrose Kodiaks for 4th Place as the Kodiaks also won their 4th straight game with a 4-2 victory over the Bonnyville Pontiacs Friday night.
?I?m happy for the guys,? said Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne. ?I think they played really good hockey lately. They played well and they deserved to win. I thought tonight, it wasn?t our greatest effort, but we got out to an early lead, we got up by 2 that was great. I think tonight, we saw one of the best performances in Junior Hockey that I?ve seen in my time, in Alex Young. I thought he was just phenomenal tonight. He carried the play, they went after him aggressively, they were all over him and he battled through and was stronger. I thought Alex threw the team on his back and played outstanding tonight.?
It was at 6:10 of the opening frame when Young got his night started scoring his 1st of the game with Zach Carlson and Connor Lyons assisting. Only 27 seconds later, Young struck again with his linemates Carlson and Lyons also assisting on that goal. Okotoks got on the board on a goal from their leading scorer Jack Works at 12:43.
Early in the 2nd period, the Oilers tied the game at 2-2 on a Power Play goal from Brandon Machado. The Eagles regained the lead at 10:41 with Alex Young completing the hat trick with a Power Play goal. That goal was his 34th of the season. Once again, Carlson and Lyons got the assists. Late in the period, the Oilers scored to tie the game on Power Play goal from Brayden Morrison at 16:39. Then at 18:11, Dylan James scored to put the Oilers in front for the first time in the game.
The Eagles certainly refused to go down after killing off a 4-minute penalty, the Eagles were able to get back on even terms as Defenceman Zach Cunningham scored his 2nd of the season at 10:52, which forced Overtime.
The five minute 3-on-3 Overtime could not determine a winner, so the two teams went to a Shootout.
Alex Young and Ethan Schaffer scored for the Eagles, while only Brandon Machado was able to light the lamp for the Oilers. Eagles Goalie Devin Chapman shut the door to Oilers leading scorer Jack Works to give the Eagles, the win.
?It feels really good,? said Alex Young after the game. ?It?s always tough playing here. These guys work so hard and the atmosphere is a little intimidating at times. So it was great to get a win here.?
Devin Chapman made 43 saves on 47 shots to earn his 4th consecutive win in as many starts. His record is now 11-10. The shots on net were 47-24 in favour of Okotoks.
?Devin has given us some confidence,? said Coach Milne. “I think our guys are comfortable with him in the net. Chappy works hard at the game. He works hard, whether it?s on the ice or off the ice. When you work that hard and you finally get rewarded. I think he?s been rewarded for his work ethic over the past 4, 5 months here in Canmore.?
The Eagles face-off against Okotoks Oilers Saturday night at the Canmore Rec Centre. Puck drop is 7 pm.
?I think we all know that Okotoks is not going to be happy with the result here tonight,? said Alex Young. ?They?re going to be coming into Canmore playing as hard and as fast tomorrow. I think we?ve been playing great Hockey, Playoff style Hockey, for the last 3 games here. I don?t think we need to change anything up. So we?re gonna continue to play our game and hopefully get another win.?
EAGLES FUN FACTS:
– It was the Eagles? first win at Pason Centennial Arena in Okotoks since October 31st, 2015.
– The Eagles? current 4 game winning streak is their longest since September 2018.
– It was the first time this season that the Eagles won a game in extra time. The Eagles last Shootout win was on March 1st, 2019, a 3-2 win in Camrose.
– Alex Young?s hat trick was his 5th as an Eagle. With 34 goals on the season, he has matched his goal total from last season and his 78 points, he has surpassed his point total from last season (74). He is also now 5th in the AJHL scoring race.