PHOTO: Matt Forchuk was the overtime hero as he scored at the six second mark to lead the Eagles to a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Canucks on Wednesday night. (file photo courtesy of Julie Wilson)
NEXT HOME GAME – Friday, Feb 27 – Old Grizzlys – 7 PM
The Canmore Eagles received an overtime goal from Matt Forchuk at the six second mark of overtime to defeat the Calgary Canucks 3-2 in Alberta Junior Hockey League action on Wednesday night before 245 fans at the Max Bell Arena in Calgary.
The victory completes a six game sweep of the Canucks this season and improves the Eagle’s record to 26-31-2. The OT victory also keeps alive the team’s aspirations of catching the Olds Grizzlys for fifth-place in the AJHL Southern Division standings. The Eagles now have 54 points, just one point behind the fifth-place Grizzlys who have 55 points.
The Eagles and Grizzlys will play a critical late season match-up in Canmore on Friday night. With a victory, the Eagles could move ahead of the Grizzlys. Friday night’s showdown with Olds will be the Eagles last game of the regular season, while the Grizzlys will wrap up their season with a home game on Saturday night against the Drayton Valley Thunder.
The eventual fifth-place winner will play the fourth-place Drumhller Dragons (30-21-7) in the best-of-five, opening round of the AJHL playoffs, while the sixth-place team will play the third-place Okotoks Oilers (37-15-6)
The victory over the Canucks on Wednesday night was a hard fought affair as the eighth-place Canucks were fighting for their playoff lives. A regulation time loss would have eliminated the Canucks from playoff contention, but the single point earned by going to overtime keeps them mathematically alive.
“I will give the Canucks credit – they came after us hard and played a good game,” said Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne. “We knew it would be an emotional game coming in because their backs were against the wall and they gave us everything they could. We needed OT to get it done, but a win is a win, especially at this time of the year. We did what we needed to do and now we have to prepare for another big home game against Olds on Friday night.”
Ryley Risling (24th) and Simon Philp (17th) had the other goals for the Eagles in Wednesday’s victory while goaltender Ryan Ferguson stopped 28 of 30 Canuck shots to earn the victory.
NOTEBOOK: Forchuk’s goal at the six second mark of overtime marked the second fastest OT goal in AJHL history and his name will now go down in the AJHL record book. Ironically, the fastest OT goal ever scored was at the five second mark earlier this season on Oct. 8 by Tristan Crozier of the Grande Prairie Storm. . . .Eagle forward Brett Radford played his 100th AJHL game last night . . .The Eagles and Grizzlys have met five times this year with the Grizzlys holding a 3-2 edge in games won. Four of the five games have been decided by one goal . . .The Eagles will be holding their 20th Annual Awards Dinner on Saturday night at the Cornerstone Theatre. A few tickets are still available and can be purchased in the Eagles Nest Lounge during Friday night’s home game for just $50. The fun-filled night features speeches, awards and a silent auction.