Exiting November on a high note

Photo Credit Sei Spo Press

Exiting November on a high note

Teams and players go through slumps but what was happening to the Canmore Eagles in November was head shaking.

Success in this league is mostly dependent on how your experienced corps of 20-year-old players perform over a long season. The Eagles gave a textbook example in November of what can happen if those players aren’t firing.

Canmore lost its first six games in November after posting three consecutive wins to finish off October.

The leaders in those October games were Kayden Smith, Vincent Scott, Riley Dekowny and Alex Young, a veteran forward group that the Eagles were expecting to shoulder the offensive load this season, and they did just that the first two months. Smith even earned Alberta Junior Hockey League player-of-the-week honours for that three-game October stretch in which he registered five goals and five assists.

The offence from those 20-year-olds dried up in November and so did the wins, with the quartet totalling just two goals in first seven games.

That changed this weekend and especially on Sunday (Nov. 27) afternoon, as the Eagles dispatched the visiting Drayton Valley Thunder 5-1 Sunday afternoon at the Canmore Recreation Centre. Those players matched their total month’s output for goals of four in eight games with four in this game. Smith ended a month-long scoring drought just 28 seconds into the game then added a second goal at 13:11 of the period. Eleven seconds later, Scott scored and the Eagles were on their way to winning for just the second time in nine November games.

Cody Pisarczyk gave Drayton Valley a little bit of life midway through the third period, but Dekowny snuffed out any thoughts of a comeback with 4:06 left to play. Ryan Nolan, who was activated on Friday after missing 12 games with an ankle injury, rounded out the goal scoring 16 seconds later.

Smith, Scott and Dekowny are now all on 11 goals for the season. The return to form couldn’t be more timely as the Eagles head out on a six-game road swing to start December.

More good news is tempered by an ugly hit whose cost is yet to be determined. The Eagles finished with three power-play goals after counting just two in its previous eight games. Two of those man-advantage goals came during a major penalty that was assessed to Drayton Valley’s Daniel Kernaghan in the third period for a head hit on Smith, who had to be helped off the ice, not to return.

Canmore would finish 3-for-10 and Drayton Valley 1-for-7 in power-play opportunities.

Canmore outshot Drayton Valley 42-27, with Andreai Proctor-Ramirez in goal for the Eagles. Colin Reay started for the Thunder and was pulled after the third goal, although he made 13 saves in 13 minutes of play. Cole Savage came on to finish the game.

Crusaders edge Eagles

Canmore’s weekend began with a 4-3 loss to the Sherwood Park Crusaders on Friday (Nov. 25) at the Canmore Recreation Centre.

There were signs in this game that the Eagles’ offensive leaders were about to return to form. Scott ended his 10-game scoring drought with a goal in the third period. Dekowny then got just his second goal of the month in the same period pulling the Eagles within one goal. Kai Billey scored Canmore’s first goal and his third of the season.

After a scoreless first period, Sherwood Park took a 3-1 lead in the second period with Brandon Sacchetti scoring twice and setting up Cole Assailly. Evan Arnold completed the Crusaders’ scoring midway through the third period.

Canmore finished the game on the power play but were unable to find the equalizer after Sherwood Park’s Kiernan Gately was assessed a major for a hit to the head of Kayden Rawji.

On the power play, Canmore was 0-for-4 while Sherwood Park was 2-for-8.

Canmore outshot Sherwood Park 52-33 with Erick Roest keeping the Crusaders in position for the win. Matthew Malin was between the pipes for the Eagles.

The weekend results leave Canmore at 10-13-1-1 and holding down sixth place in the South Division. The Eagles now head out on the road for their next five games beginning Friday (Dec. 2) against the league-leading Brooks Bandits