PHOTO: Eagle defenceman Brett Schimmel is keen to start the AJHL regular season on Friday night against his old team – the Brooks Bandits. (photo courtesy of Julie Wilson.)
If the Canmore Eagles Junior A Hockey Club are looking for a measuring stick to see how they might stack up against other Alberta Junior Hockey League competition, they will soon find out as this year’s Eagles team will open their 2015-16 regular season with a home and home series against the Brooks Bandits on the Sept. 11-12 weekend.
The Bandits and Eagles will hook up in Canmore on Friday night before the two teams return to Brooks for a Saturday night rematch. The Bandits are arguably one of the best Junior A franchises in the nation having compiled an impressive overall regular season record of 182-37-21 over the past four years and claiming an RBC Cup National championship in 2013.
For the Eagles, who have lost their top five scorers from last year's squad through graduation or NCAA scholarships, the upcoming weekend represents a ideal opportunity to establish a winning atmosphere on the club.
“We’re not worried about the Brooks Bandits, we just have to concentrate on what we have in our own dressing room,” said Eagle’s veteran defenceman and Brooks native Brett Schimmel. “Instead of looking in the rear view mirror as the Bandits may be, we are looking forward to having a successful year in our own right. We feel the coaching staff has assembled a team that can stack up not only against the Brooks Bandits, but any team in the AJHL.”
With six rookie forwards and two rookie netminders earning spots on this year’s Eagle roster, Canmore will start the season relying heavily on their core of returning defencemen including Schimmel, Jakob Lavoie, Griffin Mumby, and Brayden Biccum to keep the opposing forwards in check.
“We definitely have some strong leadership from the backend, but I also feel our forwards have the ability to be successful against any other lineup in the league,” said Schimmel, who played for the Bandits when they claimed their National Championship back in 2013. “Guys like Olson (Lane), Forchuk (Matt), Ferguson (Logan), Hildebrand (Kurt), Pauls (Kyle) and Radford (Brett) will see a lot more ice time and powerplay time this year, and I think they're up to the challenge.
“I also like our group of rookie players that have made the club this year. They’ve got good speed and offensive talent. They’ve also all played on winning teams before, so they’ve brought some positive energy to the dressing room. We’re excited to get the season underway.”
Game time Friday night at the Canmore Recreation Centre is 7 PM
NOTEBOOK: There will be a free pre-game Bar-B-Q courtesy of Shoppers Drug Mart before Friday’s home opener starting at 6 pm. . . .Mayor John Borrowman will be on hand to perform the ceremonial opening face-off. . . .The Eagle’s Nest Lounge will be open with special $4 Molson draft. . . The 50-50 jackpot will also be a mimumum of $500 to the winner!