PHOTO: Goaltender Ryan Ferguson picked up the win against Drayton Valley to improve his record to 16-8-2. (Julie Wilson photo)
The Canmore Eagles erupted for three unanswered goals in the game’s final ten minutes to defeat the visiting Drayton Valley Thunder 4-3 in a highly entertaining Alberta Junior Hockey League game played Friday night before 475 fans at the Canmore Recreation Centre.
The third-period comeback victory improved the Eagle’s overall record to 23-17-3 – good enough for 49 points and keeps them in fourth-place in the tightly bunched AJHL Southern Division standings. Canmore now trails the second-place Okotoks Oilers and Drumheller Dragons by just two points and keeps the Eagles one point ahead of the hard charging fifth-place Camrose Kodiaks.
The Eagles, who were playing their third game in four nights, looked listless for the first two periods against the Thunder as they found themselves down 2-1 after the first 20 minutes, and 3-1 after two periods. Following a spirited fight between the Eagle’s Jeremy Gordon and the Thunder’s Douglas Morris at the 5:17 mark of the third period which took place directly in front of the Canmore bench, the Eagles found new life and mounted their furious comeback outshooting the Thunder 17-10 in the third period.
John Stevens (4th), Luke Simpson (17th), Ryley Risling (3rd) and Joe Serpico (12th) had the Eagle goals while netminder Ryan Ferguson stopped 26 of 29 Thunder shots to improve his overall record to 16-8-2. Canmore outshot the Thunder by a 40-29 margin.
“Jeremy Gordon’s fight seemed to spark our hockey club and got us out of our funk,” said Eagle’s Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Mine, who saw his club’s home record improve to an impressive 17-4-1. “After two tough road losses earlier in the week, we really needed this win and I’m proud of the boys for the way they fought back and found a way to win. It was a gritty performance. We are obviously playing very well on home ice and we need to keep winning games if we want to secure home-ice advantage for the playoffs.”
The Eagles will now play three straight games on the road beginning next Tuesday, Jan. 14 when they travel to Calgary to play a make-up game against the Calgary Canucks. The game was originally scheduled for Dec. 2 but was postponed due to a snow storm. They will then head to Olds on Friday, Jan. 17 to face the Grizzlys and visit the Calgary Mustangs on Tuesday Jan. 21. Canmore’s next home game will be on Friday, Jan. 24 when the Drumheller Dragons come to town.
NOTEBOOK: The Eagles have just seven home games remaining on their schedule . . . The AJHL trade deadline came and went on Friday and , as expected, the Eagles did not makes any roster moves . . .Attendance for the Eagle’s last four home games is averaging 507. . . With his powerplay goal last night, forward Luke Simpson is now tied with defenceman Trey Phillips for the team’s goal scoring lead with 17 goals apiece. Simpson has played just 25 games, while Phillips has played 41 games. Phillips continues to lead the team in overall scoring with 42 points and is the top scoring defenceman in the entire AJHL.