Eagles split with Bobcats

Eagles split with Bobcats

The Canmore Eagles put in a dominant performance to begin their Alberta Junior Hockey League first-round playoff series but were denied back-to-back wins as they took on the Lloydminster Bobcats on Friday (March 15) and Saturday (March 16) in the border town.

The seventh-seeded Eagles, coming off a play-in sweep of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, showed the second-seeded Bobcats they would be no easy meal when the best-of-seven series opened, snatching an 8-3 victory in which 13 of the Eagles’ 18 skaters grabbed at least one point.

Brody Tallman finished with two power-play goals and an assist. Tyler Loughman registered one goal and three assists. Picking up a goal and two assists were Rhett Dekowny and Logan Ziegler. Also scoring goals were Nathan MacPherson-Ridgewell, Ryan Nolan and Zach Coutu.

Replying for Lloydminster were Luke Fritz, Orin Olson and Caden Steinke.

Ziegler’s power-play opened the scoring 12:09 of the first period.

In the second period, Nolan, Coutu and MacPherson-Ridgewell gave Canmore a 4-0 lead by 14:29 of the frame. Fritz would score for the home side.

Lloydminster goals on either side of Loughman’s tally would make it a 5-3 game just five minutes into the third period. Tallman would then score twice within 25 seconds (9:27 with the Eagles enjoying a 5-on-3 advantage and at 9:52). Dekowny would wrap up the scoring at 15:44.

The Eagles finished the game with four power-play goals on eight chances while the Bobcats were 0-for-5.

Canmore outshot Lloydminster 34-21 (26-15 over the final two periods) with Matthew Malin in goal for the Eagles and Jack Solomon in goal for the Bobcats.

On Saturday, a late goal in regulation time gave Lloydminster a lifeline which they took full advantage of it to escape the night with a 4-3 double overtime victory in a game that went for more than four hours.

Canmore dominated the early proceedings, outshooting Lloydminster 14-3 in the opening period and taking a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals by Kayden Rawji.

The teams would trade goals in the second period, with Ben Aucoin scoring for the Bobcats and Owen Jones for the Eagles. Aucoin’s second of the game early in the third period cut the Eagles lead to 3-2.  Caden Steinke’s in-tight shot would tie the game at 18:18.

Three minutes into the first overtime the game was halted for more than 30 minutes as medical personnel attended to fallen Bobcat Emmett Nordin, who crashed heavily into the boards just inside the Bobcats blueline. The 18-year-old Kelowna native was eventually removed by ambulance and taken to hospital for observation with early indications it is a sore neck and that he would recover fully.

When the game resumed, both teams traded shots – 12-11 for the Bobcats – in a back-and-forth period but neither team was able to beat past Malin or Solomon.

It was a more defensive-minded effort by both teams in the second overtime, until Kade Fendelet made a headlong rush down the right wing in the eighth minute, turning towards goal and sliding the puck between a sprawled Eagles defender and the goaltender for the game winner.

Overall, Canmore outshot Lloydminster 48-44, while each team scoring once on the power play with the Bobcats having five chances to the Eagles three opportunities.

Lloydminster’s Caden Cabana, who topped the AJHL in scoring this season with 69 points (27G-42A) has just two assists (both in Saturday’s victory) over the opening two games.

The series resumes in Canmore on Tuesday, March 19, 7 p.m. at the Canmore Recreation Centre.

In the other three playoff series:

The No. 1 Whitecourt Wolverines won its opening two games with the No. 8 Camrose Kodiaks. Whitecourt won both games by 3-2 scores although they needed overtime on Saturday to secure the win;

The No. 3 Calgary Canucks posted back-to-back 4-3 wins over the No. 6 Grande Prairie Storm with Friday’s opening game going to overtime;

No. 4 Bonnyville Pontiacs find themselves trailing the No. 5 Drumheller Dragons 2-0 after a pair of home ice losses. The Dragons won 4-2 on Friday and 4-3 in overtime on Saturday.

The Calgary versus Grande Prairie series resumes Monday, March 18 while each of the other three series resume on Tuesday, March 19.

Canmore hosts Lloydminster on Tuesday, March 19 and Wednesday, March 20, 7 p.m. at the Canmore Recreation Centre. Game 5 will be in Lloydminster on Friday, March 22. If necessary, Game 6 will be play in Canmore on Sunday, March 24, beginning at 5 p.m., while a Game 7 would go in the border town (the Centennial Civic Arena is on the Saskatchewan side) on Tuesday, March 26. Game times in Lloydminster are 7 p.m.