As the longest serving member of the Canmore Eagles, hometown player Kyle Pauls is looking forward to the challenges the junor A hockey squad will be faced with this season.
“We’re looking to go as far as we can in the playoffs,” said Pauls who has contributed 51 points in his 196 games over four seasons as an Eagle.
Last season’s playoffs saw the Eagles soar past the Drumheller Dragons, taking them three games to one. But Canmore was swept in four games by the eventual Alberta Junior Hockey League champion Brooks Bandits.
“I think Ryan Bontorin, our goaltender, is going to be really good for us this year,” said Pauls. “I’m really excited to see what he can do as a 20-year-old goaltender. I think we’re going to be good this year, and I’m really excited to see what happens.”
As a Canmorite, Pauls grew up following the Eagles from as soon as he started skating at three years old.
“It’s been a great learning experience,” said Pauls. “It’s been challenging going through being 16 and having to go to school and play hockey. Since I’ve been out of school, it’s been a little more relaxing, but it’s still hard work having to go to the gym to train and what not.
“It’s crazy how fast it flies by. Living at home, knowing everyone and growing up watching the Eagles, and having friends that were locals on the team helped make it a great experience. I used to watch the Eagles as a kid all the time.”
Now entering his fifth and final season with the Eagles, Pauls credits his coaches for allowing him to grow as a player.
“I’ve really enjoyed having Andrew Milne as my [head] coach, as well as [assistant coach] Jeremy Reich,” said Pauls. “Having Andrew play in the Western Hockey League and Reich playing in the National Hockey League was a great thing and they both helped my game out tremendously.”
The Eagles’ exhibition schedule includes four games in three days, Sept. 7-9, including a split squad game on Sept. 8 against the Olds Grizzlys and the Calgary Canucks.
The Eagles’ regular season kicks off on Sept. 16 against the Calgary Mustangs at the Canmore Recreation Centre at 7 p.m. followed by another home game on Sept. 17 against the Drumheller Dragons, also at 7 p.m.
For more from Zach Laing: http://www.thecragandcanyon.ca/2016/08/31/pauls-prepares-for-fifth-season-with-eagles