From the Crag and Canyon: Eagles put the future on ice

Canmore Eagles prospects skated over three days of scrimmaging last weekend.

The first of two spring camps, this one for invited players ages 14 to 17, was a chance to showcase themselves before the Eagles coaches and scouts at the Canmore Recreation Centre with the hope that one day they could find themselves playing junior A hockey in the mountain town.

Among the interested spectators were last season’s Eagles players — many of whom helped out by officiating games — including the team’s MVP and leading scorer Colton Young. He was on hand to watch his 15-year-old brother Kyle, who played minor midget this past winter with the Calgary Royals, the same program that Colton, who is 19, and middle brother Alex, 17, came through before they joined the Eagles.

“I’m just kind of watching my other brother out here,” Colton said, with a smile creasing his face when asked about the possibility of all three Young brothers playing for the Eagles at the same time. “It could be a possibility.”

In order for that to happen, it would have to be this coming winter, as Colton will graduate out of junior hockey following the 2018–19 season.

Colton said he would love to still be playing at this time of the year; the Eagles’ season ended in the first round of the Alberta Junior Hockey League playoffs. Plans are already in place for off-season workouts, which include building greater leg strength, although he is already one of most explosive fastest skaters in the AJHL. He’ll also be adding a lot skill work in stickhandling and shooting while trying to better his shot for next year.

The workouts include “pushing” his brothers to the next level as well. He also spends time on the ice with family and friends.

“My friends will rent the ice, and we will go out and work on shooting on other goalies about the same level,” said Colton. “A lot of them I have played with since peewee and grown up with.”

As for this past weekend, 130 players took part in high-intensity scrimmages, which featured nine teams participating in fast-paced 20-minute scrimmages throughout the three days.

Eagles GM and head coach Andrew Milne said the change from a more traditional game format allowed for more inspection into player fitness and whether they’re ready to make the jump to the next level.

“I think our scouting staff has done a good job,” said Milne. “The competitiveness has been high and I like the group dynamic of what is here so far.”

Some of the players will also attend the second spring camp, scheduled for May 4–7, when the second batch of invitees that performed at the midget AAA and junior levels will hit the ice.

“We are looking for their compete level, if they can skate because we have a fast hockey club … and we would like to add a little bit of size,” said Milne. “If you can fit that category — compete, fast and size — then you are probably in our scouting reports.”

The Eagles will be looking to fill out about half dozen roster spots this coming season, preferably with rookies, as the team plans for not only next season but seasons to come.

“We know the corps of our hockey team is back next season,” said Milne.

It was a team that featured a dozen rookies as it looks to improve on its 21 wins and 39 losses through the maturing of the current roster.

Training camp dates are not yet set, with the team waiting on the league to finalize the schedule and the availability of the rink during an expected summer upgrade of the facility.

For more from the Russ at the Crag and Canyon

Photos by Pam Doyle Photography