After a week of practice, the Canmore Eagles went to Olds to start off a big stretch of 9 games in 17 days. The Eagles started off that stretched on the right foot as they downed the struggling Olds Grizzlys 3-1 to snap their 2-game losing streak and improve their record to 8-4-2. The Eagles remain in 3rd Place in the AJHL South division and also remain 6 points back of the 2nd Place Drumheller Dragons and 1 point up on the 4th Place Okotoks Oilers. Drumheller and Okotoks were also winners of their own matchups on Friday.
One of the big keys in tonight’s victory was the Eagles’ Penalty Kill. The Eagles gave up only 1 Power Play goal to the Grizzlys, which was scored on a 5 on 3, but were able to kill off the other 5 Grizzly Power Play opportunities. That included killing off a 5 minute Power Play in the middle of the 3rd period, as rookie Defenceman Aidan West was assessed a 5 minute major for boarding and a game misconduct.
Eagles’ Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne had praise for the great work of his Penalty Kill unit, especially Forwards Owen Reith and Nolan Steer who he thought were phenomenal. However, the Eagles’ bench boss was not happy with the team’s discipline, which was a big downfall in the Eagles’ previous game when they fell to the Bonnyville Pontiacs 3-2 on Sunday. “We have to control our team’s discipline, it has become a big issue. Something we need to address. We won’t be able to sustain that Penalty Kill for the rest of the year,” said Milne.
At the other end of the ice, the Eagles received goals from Captain Colton Young (7) who also had an assist, Taden Rattie (5) and Quinton Ong (5). The Eagles’ Power Play struck once in 8 opportunities. The Eagles still have the #1 Power Play in the AJHL with an efficiency of 32.53%. However, in the last 3 games, the Eagles have only managed to score twice in 18 opportunities with the man advantage. When asked about the Eagles Power Play stats cooling off recently Coach Milne said, “Other teams having identified our structure and what we are trying to accomplish. Other coaches will adjust, they will adapt, but also tonight we were too cute, too fancy. Trying to make fancy plays, rather than efficient plays”.
Back to the keys of tonight’s victories, 20-year-old netminder Thomas Davis had another good performance in his 2nd consecutive start. He stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced to improve his season record to 4-1-2. At the other end, it was Canmore native Jay Thomson who was the starting goalie for the Olds Grizzlys. The 17-year-old played well and made some big saves to give his team a chance to win. He made 25 saves on 28 shots.
The Eagles continue their weekend road trip as they head up to Fort McMurray to take on the Oil Barons (7-5-3) on Sunday afternoon for a 2:00 pm matinee game. The team is stayed in Edmonton Friday and will make the long trip to Fort McMurray on Saturday afternoon.
After that contest, the Eagles will come back home and face the Drumheller Dragons (12-4) in Banff on Tuesday night at 7 pm.
EAGLES FUN FACTS:
– Eagles Captain Colton Young is now the team’s new leading scorer following his 2 point performance. He is tied with 9 other players for 5th in the AJHL scoring race with 19 points. The current AJHL leading scorer is Okotoks Oilers forward Dylan Holloway who has 26 points and he turned 17 only a month ago.