The Canmore Eagles rebounded to post a 4-1 win over the Lloydminster Bobcats on Saturday night.
Playing their final AJHL home game of the 2016 portion of their Alberta Junior Hockey League schedule, the Eagles used some quick stick work to pull out a win over the North Division cellar dwellers before 427 fans at the Canmore Recreation Centre.
Jake Ashton (with his fifth goal of the season), Coy Prevost (11), Logan Ferguson (19) and Brett Stewart (7) scored for Canmore.
Austin Ehret (2) scored for Lloydminster.
Canmore outshot Lloydminster 46-25. Ryan Bontorin was in goal for the Eagles. Austin McGrath, one of 14 junior A rookies in the Bobcats' lineup, was the other goalie of record.
Lloydminster's roster includes just one player from the team that hosted and reached the RBC Cup (Canadian junior A championships) final last May, captain Connor Odelein, who was featuring in just his second game following a leg injury that sidelined him for two months.
The Eagles were looking to rebound from a 3-1 loss on Friday night to the Okotoks, and rebound they did as it led to two of their goals.
“I knew our team was going to be good (Saturday),” said Andrew Milne, Eagles GM and head coach. “I didn't think we were really bad (Friday), we fired 42 shots at Okotoks … we just did not execute to a tee.
It was different Saturday with more players showing a little extra jump against the struggling Bobcats. Ferguson was happy with his teammate's overall performance.
“Everyone was contributing whether it was offensively or defensively, and when everyone is going like that we as a team can be dangerous. It was good to see that,” he said.
In the first period, Ashton skated over the blue line and let loose with a long shot that sailed over McGrath's left shoulder.
In the second period, Prevost scored a shorthanded goal when he wired home a long rebound from the Bobcats goaltender.
The game got feisty near the end of the second period and carried over into the third period as Eagle Daylan Marchi and Bobcat Tre Doyon fought four minutes into the period. The chippy play continued right up to the final seconds of the game with referee Ray McArthy doing a good job in meting out the discipline this night and keeping the game flowing.
Neither team scored a power play goal, with the Bobcats awarded five chances and the Eagles four chances.
As for the scoring in the third period, Ferguson batted home a rebound from the side of the net to make it 3-0 Eagles.
Ehret would end Bontorin's bid for a third shutout this season when he beat the goaltender over his right shoulder from in tight on the left wing with just under six minutes to play.
Stewart would score an empty net goal with 2:32 remaining.
With the win, Canmore improves to 18-12-4 but still in fifth place in the South Division. The Eagles finish off their 2016 portion of the schedule with a game against the Dragons (15-15-4, sixth place, South Division) in Drumheller on Tuesday night.
Heading towards 2017, Ferguson believes his team can challenge at the top of the division over the final two months of the regular season.
“There is a lot of things we can improve on. We are in a good spot mentally right now, and we just have to keep rolling,” said the captain. “After the new year, every team tightens up system's wise, and I think we have to be good defensively in the new year, keeping it simple, and bringing our best effort every night.”
The Eagles currently trail the fourth-place Camrose Kodiaks (21-13-3) by five points but Canmore has three games in hand on their more northern divisional rival. The Eagles are six points back of the third-place and slumping Calgary Canucks (22-12-2, losers of five in a row).
The Brooks Bandits (27-3-4) lead the South with Okotoks (22-8-5) in second place. The two teams are 18 and nine points, respectively, clear of the Eagles.
The loss for Lloydminster is its fourth in a row during an eight-game road trip that opened with two victories. The Bobcats are now 8-23-2 and in eighth place in the North Division.
EAGLES NEST: Eagles scratches were Braden Saretsky, serving the second game of his two-game suspension for a slashing major – he is eligible to return to action on Tuesday – and the injured Evan Katelnikoff. … Following the holiday break, the Eagles will open the 2017 portion of their schedule with two games at home against the Camrose Kodiaks on Jan. 1 at 6 p.m. and Jan. 2 at 2:30 p.m., with both game are at the Canmore Rec Centre.