In a stunning turn of events, the 5th-seeded Canmore Eagles will now face the 3rd-seeded Drumheller Dragons in upcoming Alberta Junior Hockey League Southern Division semi-final playoff action.
After upsetting the 4th-seeded Camrose Kodiaks in the opening-round of the playoffs earlier this week, the Eagles looked destined to play the top-seeded Brooks Bandits in the next round until last night when the 7th-seeded Olds Grizzlys scored a 5-1 victory over the 2nd-seeded Okotoks Oilers in Game Five of their opening round series in Okotoks to win their series 3-2. The loss eliminated the Oilers from the post-season party and as a result, the Grizzlys will now face the Brooks Bandits in one Southern Division semi-final series, while the Eagles will face the Drumheller Dragons in the other semi-final series.
In another rather bizarre chain of events, the Drumheller Memorial Arena is also booked solid with another event this weekend and consequently the first two games of the best-of-seven series has been shifted to the Canmore Recreation Centre.
As a result, Game One and Game Two of the Dragons-Eagles series will be played at the Canmore Recreation Centre this weekend with Game One scheduled for a 7 PM start on Friday, March 14 and Game Two set for Saturday, March 15 at 7 pm.
Because Drumheller did finish ahead of the Eagles in the regular season standings, the Dragons will still enjoy home-ice advantage in the series as Games 3-5 will be played in Drumheller.
Advanced tickets for this weekend’s two home games will go on sale at the Canmore Recreation Centre beginning on Thursday, March 13 from 2-6 pm, and again on Friday, March 15 beginning at 2 pm.
During their regular season play, Drumheller finished in third-place in the Southern Division standings with 75 points and a record of 35-20-5. Canmore finished in fifth-place with 67 points and a record of 32-25-3.
The Dragons advanced to the second round of the playoffs by sweeping the Calgary Mustangs in three straight games and outscored the Mustangs by a wide 17-7 margin.
The Dragons and Eagles met each other six times during the regular season with each team coming away with three wins. Canmore won their last two meetings 3-2 in Canmore on Jan. 24, and 4-1 in Drumheller on Feb. 21.
As was the case in their recent series against the Camrose Kodiaks, the Canmore Eagles can expect another playoff series dominated by physicality and exceptional goaltending.
The Dragons like to play it rough as they accumulated 1,741 penalty minutes during the regular season and feature six players on their roster with 100 penalty minutes or more. The Eagles had just 1,100 team penalty minutes and had just three players with over 100 penalty minutes.
Scoring goals will also be at a premium as the Dragons picked up 20-year-old stud goaltender Devin Buffalo from the Flin Flon Bombers at the AJHL trade deadline. In his brief time with the Dragons, Buffalo is 7-1 with a Goals Against Average of 2.03 and a Save Percentage of .924.
The Eagles will counter with their own goaltending phenom as rookie Ryan Ferguson  was spectacular in the first round of the playoffs posting a 3-1 record, a Goals Against Average of 1.70 and a Save Percentage of .934.