From the Crag and Canyon:Nine is just fine for Eagles as they open AJHL season

Canmore Eagles general manager and head coach Andrew Milne knew his team could score goals — and they did it in a big way to begin the Alberta Junior Hockey League season.

On opening night, and on the road at Calgary’s Max Bell Cente, Canmore got scoring from eight different players in a 9-3 romp over the hometown Canucks.

“I thought we did a lot of good things tonight,” said Milne. “Definitely, we had opportunities to be successful tonight and we capitalized.”

Alex Young scored twice with singles coming returning fellow forwards Taden Rattie, Colton Young, Quinton Ong, Tian Rask, Max Giangualano and defenceman Daly Hamilton. Forward Owen Reith, acquired in the off-season to conclude the trade that took Coy Prevost to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and brought Connor Lyons to Canmore at last January’s trade deadline, rounded out the scoring.

“We have a lot of guys hungry to score a lot of goals and we did that tonight,” said Milne.

The Canucks got goals from Cooper Johnson, Jackson Zloty and Cameron Pollock-Hughes.

The Eagles outshot the Canucks 54-30 with Thomas Davis in goal for the winners and rookie Blake Pilon going the distance for the home team.

The Eagles were 0-for-3 on the power play while the Canucks went 0-for-5.

“I don’t think the Canucks played their best game,” said Milne. “I think they are still identifying some players and trying to work through it.”

Hamilton, who had a strong pre-season, scored the first goal of the season for the Eagles. He wired a wrist shot from the left point, tucking the puck just under the crossbar over the Canucks netminder’s right shoulder at 10:41 of the first period.

It would be the only goal of the period.

The Eagles outscored the Canucks 4-1 in the middle frame, when Alex Young scored both of his goals. Both came off bursts down the right wing that had him firing a wrist shot, shortside high from the about the faceoff dot.

Canmore would four more goals in the final period to the Canucks two goals.

Reith and Giangualano also each drew two assists to finish with three points as a dozen players got on the scoresheet. Forward Nolan Steer and defencemen Brian Bailer and Mark Drohan each recorded two assists.

Drohan was acquired in the off-season from the Canucks in exchange for D Adamu Tanaka and F Justin Giacomin, who both missed Friday’s game due to injuries.

The Eagles dressed 12 returning players and eight new players for this game. The rookies making their junior A debuts included Bailer and fellow d-man Aiden West, forwards Daniel Anton, Michael Spafford and Zach Carlson.

So, who didn’t we mention? Friday’s lineup also included defenceman Jared Bowman, acquired from Olds, and backup netminder Logan Dyck.

Lyons played alongside the Young brothers on Friday. A line that was maybe the best in the AJHL down the stretch run last season.

The other forward lines were Rask–Ong–Giangualano, Steers–Rattie–Reith, and Spafford–Anton–Carlson.

The only player on the current 21-player roster not to dress was forward and Banffite Kazu Prevost. Milne said the Banff Hockey Academy graduate will see his first game action on Sunday when the Eagles travel back to Calgary to play the Mustangs, 5:45 p.m. at Father David Bauer Arena.

EAGLES NEST: Milne said the club’s billeting issues have mostly been resolved but the team is now looking to augment the number of billet families to allow it to expand its roster by at least three more players. … Following Sunday’s game, the Eagles head to Drumheller on Tuesday.

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