Eagles vs Oil Barons in play-in series

Eagles vs Oil Barons in play-in series

The Canmore Eagles’ road to an Alberta Junior Hockey League playoffs begins on home ice but runs through Fort McMurray.

A dramatic final day of the regular season on Saturday (March 2) saw the Grande Prairie Storm (24-26-4-3, 55 points) slip past Canmore (25-29-2-1, 53 pts.) into sixth place with a 4-1 win over the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (17-34-3-3-, 40 pts.), who finished 10th with the loss and draw the seventh-place Eagles in a best-of-five play-in series.

For Canmore, a midweek (Tuesday, Feb. 27) 6-1 loss to the Calgary Canucks (31-23-1-2, 65 pts.) – one of five teams to gain play-in byes – denied the Eagles sixth place. The Canucks finished third overall, one point back of the Lloydminster Bobcats (33-24-0-0, 66 pts), who grabbed that position with a 6-3 win over the league-topping Whitecourt Wolverines (34-18-4-1, 73 pts.) on the final day of the season.

The Eagles completed their regular season with a 7-2 win over the Camrose Kodiaks (22-28-0-7, 51 pts.) on Friday (March 1) to get to 53 points and had the tie breaker over the Storm had they failed to gain a point on Saturday.

Grande Prairie will take on 11th-place Old Grizzlys (10-41-3-3, 26 pts.) and the eighth-place Kodiaks meet ninth-place Drayton Valley Thunder (19-35-2-1, 40 pts.) in the other two play-in series.

The other two teams to gain play-in byes are fourth-place Bonnyville Pontiacs (30-23-4-0, 64 pts.) and fifth-place Drumheller Dragons (26-23-5-3, 640 pts), who will meet each other in a first-round playoff series but the two teams have at least two weeks to prepare while the play-in series takes place. The Dragons last played on Feb. 25 with the best-of-seven playoffs having a tentative start date of March 15.

Canmore opens at home against Fort McMurray. The opening two games are Thursday, March 7 and Friday, March 8 at the Canmore Recreation Centre, 7 p.m. start times. The series switches to Fort McMurray for games on Sunday, March 10 and, if necessary, on Monday, March 11. If a fifth game is required it will be back in Canmore on Wednesday, March 13.

Canmore and Fort McMurray met four times over the course of the regular season, splitting a pair of doubleheaders played in each other other’s arenas. The two teams met in Fort McMurray on Nov. 4-5 with the Eagles winning 6-1 and the Oil Barons 5-4 respectively. Back in Canmore on Feb. 15 & 17, the Eagles won 6-3 and the Oil Barons followed up with a 5-4 overtime victory.

Canucks 6 at Eagles 1

Calgary, chasing second place in the AJHL standings, scored five third-period goals en route to its victory at the Canmore Recreation Centre.

The Canucks opened the scoring with Riley Hearn scoring the lone first-period goal. Rhett Dekowny answered for the Eagles with his 16th goal of the season in the second period.

The flood doors opened in the third period as Jackson Bessette, Julien Gervias, Nolan Paquette, Ty Hipkin and Gavin Garland all scored.

Three of the third-period goals came via the power play as the visitors had six chances in the game, while home side went 0-for-4.

Calgary outshot Canmore 37-35 with Julian Molinaro in goal for the Canucks and affiliate player Hudson Sedo getting his second successive start for the Eagles after shutting out Olds in his junior debut.

Eagles 7 at Kodiaks 2

The biggest offensive outburst of the season for Canmore came in its final regular-season game of the season. The Eagles had scored six goals in four games prior to Friday’s big victory.

The win by Canmore kept them in sixth place for another day and left Camrose in ninth place as the regular season came to an end for both the Eagles and Kodiaks.

Brody Tallman and Rhett Dekowny each scored twice for the Eagles.

Both Tallman’s goals came on the power play giving him 14 man-advantage goals, second most in the league. The 20-year-old finished the top scoring defenceman in the AJHL with 45 points (17 goals and 28 assists). He also accumulated the third most penalty minutes in the league at 139 in 52 games played.

Dekowny reached 18 goals and 38 points on the season with his two goals.

Camrose got two goals from Sam Lozinski, who opened the scoring 3½ minutes into the contest. Tallman answered at 9:08.

Canmore scored the only two goals of the second period: Owen Jones scored his 15th goal and Bryson Insinger his fifth as the Eagles took a 3-1 lead.

In the third period, Tallman and Dekowny extended the lead before Ethan Look’s ninth goal made it 6-1. Following Lozinski’s second of the game, Dekowny wrapped up the goal scoring with a shorthanded, penalty shot goal at 15:13.

Canmore outshot Camrose 53-20 with Matthew Malin back between the pipes for the first time in two weeks for the Eagles. Elliott Pratt went the distance for the Kodiaks.

On the power play, Canmore finished 3-for-9 and Camrose went 0-for-3.

Logan Ziegler picked up one assist in the game and finished the leading scorer on the Eagles with 21 goals and 26 assists for 47 points, 15th overall in the AJHL.

The league will announce its individual award winners over the coming week with Brody Mortensen shortlisted for the outstanding defenceman (W.G. ‘Bill’ Scotet Memorial Trophy, presented by Alberta Ford Dealers) award.