Eight goals for Christmas for Eagles

The Canmore Eagles gifted their coaches a bunch of goals heading to the Christmas break.

Adam Tisdale, Coy Prevost and Brett Stewart each scored two goals as Canmore thrashed the Drumheller Dragons 8-3 before 530 fans at the Drumheller Memorial Arena on Tuesday night, the final night of pre-Christmas games in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Also scoring for Canmore were Logan Ferguson and Braden Saretsky.

Drumheller goals came from Bradley Stonnell, with two, and Chad Hurtubise.

“We hit them with some pretty good speed and they had a tough time containing it,” said Andrew Milne, Eagles GM and head coach. “We had four lines that were clicking all night.”

Milne said he used the freshness of the memories from the 6-5 overtimes loss in Drumheller on Dec. 9 as motivation for his players during Tuesday's game.

“Absolutely, I reminded them of what happened after we had this type of start last game we played them — that they came back last game,” said Milne. The Eagles grabbed a 2-0 lead inside the first seven minutes of the Dec. 9 game before letting the game slip away.

Canmore outshot Drumheller 38-26, with Ryan Bontorin in goal for the Eagles and Hunter Virostek in goal for the Dragons.

The games featured 111 penalty minutes although the only fight featured Eagle Kyle Pauls battling Slater Dykema in the third period after the Dragon cross-checked Coy Prevost. Dykema drew a pair of major penalties for his actions. Dragons Head Coach Brian Curran was expelled from the bench at the same time.

Canmore was 2-for-7 on the power play while Drumheller was 1-for-3. The game also featured three shorthanded goals, two by the Eagles.

Ferguson opened the scoring at 8:27 of the first period. Tisdale followed with his first of the game on the power play at 10 minutes.

Matt Forchuk drew assists on both goals and heads to the break with a league-leading 53 points (16 goals and 37 assists). Ferguson is second in scoring at 50 points (20 goals and 30 assists).

Each team scored once more before the period ended, with Prevost scoring a shorthanded goal and Stonnell getting the Dragons on the board in the final minute.

Canmore scored three more goals in the middle frame. Prevost with his second goal giving him 13 on the season was followed by Saretsky, his 17th goal coming on the power play, and Stewart's first of the game.

Stonnell upped his goal scoring total to 10 with a power-play marker that at the time made it a 4-2 game.

In the third period, Tisdale scored a shorthanded goal to move his season goals total to 15 and Stewart scored the Eagles' final goal and his ninth of the season.

Hurtubise's shorthanded goal at 13:29, his eighth goal this season, completed the scoring.

Canmore ends 2016 at 19-12-4 and in fifth place in the South Division. The Eagles are three points back of the fourth-place Camrose Kodiaks (21-13-3) with the two teams set to meet in Canmore on Sunday, Jan. 1 (6 p.m., Canmore Rec Centre) and Monday, Jan. 2 (2:30 p.m, Canmore Rec Centre).

After the bus ride home, the team breaks Wednesday morning. The players will return Dec. 29 for three days of practice before the take on Camrose. So what is Milne's Christmas message to his players?

“Well, as a typical coach, I reminded them of how important it is to come in shape because we have two [games] in a row with Camrose and how big they are,” he said. “I really want them to step away from the game for a while, mentally, physically and emotionally because it has been a bit of a grind here.

“It's nice to step away and spend some time with your family but I also want to make sure they maintain some conditioning and not just lay around for 10 days.”

When the season resumes on Jan. 1, Canmore will have 25 regular-season games left, with 15 of those games on home ice, which includes the next installment of its rivalry with the Dragons on Jan. 31 in Banff (7 p.m., Fenlands).

EAGLES NEST: Not dressing for Canmore were Adamu Tanaka and Evan Katelnikoff. …  … Forchuk's two assists gives him 101 helpers in his junior A career. … Ferguson's goal gives him 50 goals in 152 AJHL games. … Drumheller heads to the break with a 15-16-4 record and in sixth place in the South, eight points back of Canmore.