Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

A bit of home cooking is going down well for the Canmore Eagles.

After enduring a road heavy menu during the first half of this Alberta Junior Hockey League season, Canmore has had a steady diet of home entrees the past three weeks and are feasting on a winning plater.

Three games this past week. Three games on home ice. Three more wins on the table.

The biggest of those victories was a confidence-boosting 4-1 result over a shorthanded Brooks Bandits squad on Tuesday (Dec. 12). That was followed by a 5-0 win over the Drumheller Dragons on Friday (Dec. 15) and the week was rounded off with another 4-1 victory, this one over the Bonnyville Pontiacs on Saturday (Dec. 16).

There has been plenty of individual highlights during December, with the Eagles winning five of seven games with still two more on the menu before Christmas.

Matthew Malin was in goal for all three victories, stopping 83 of 85 shots he faced. The San Francisco, Calif. native has won five of his six starts in December with a 1.53 goals-against average and a .951 save-percentage over that span.

Canmore native Owen Jones scored in each of the three wins (four goals) this past week and became the third Eagles player to reach the 10-goal plateau this season.

Logan Ziegler, who leads the Eagles in scoring with 32 points (16 goals and 16 assists) now has a seven-game points streak – one point in each of the seven games the team has played in December.

Nathan MacPherson-Ridgewell ran his points streak to an active five games, with two goals and four assists over that span, including goals in two of this week’s victories.

Captain Brody Tallman scored in each of the wins this week. His 14 goals are the most by any AJHL defenceman, while his 11 power play goals, including two more this past week, are the third most by any skater in the league. However, the most telling aspect to his leadership abilities on this team was his peerless defence, including putting his body on the line in blocking numerous opposition shots.

Canmore improved its record to 16-18-1-1 with the week’s results and into a tie for 11th place with the Grande Prairie Storm (15-16-3-1) at 34 points. The Storm has one game in hand but one less regulation time victory than the Eagles.

Canmore is on a four-game winning streak on home ice and have won five of its last eight home games dating back to Nov. 24. The team played just twice on the road in this same span, winning once and losing once.

Canmore still has two games on its plate before the team disperses for the Christmas break. The Eagles menu includes a game in Drumheller on Thursday, Dec. 21 and then its back home at the Canmore Recreation Centre to greet the Calgary Canucks, 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 22.

The Eagles will return to action on the first weekend of the new year with two games at the Canmore Recreation Centre, starting with the Drayton Valley Thunder on Friday, Jan. 5 and followed by the Lloydminster Bobcats on Saturday, Jan. 6.

Bandits 1 at Eagles 4 

A quick start followed by a strong commitment to the defensive side of the game gave Canmore its win over Brooks, snapping the league leaders 16-game wining streak in the process.

Tallman pointed the Eagles in the right direction with a power-play goal just 1:28 into the game. He was followed by goals from Tyler Loughman at 13:21 and Jones at 14:17.

Hughie Hooker ended Malin’s shutout bid at 18:18 of the third period with the Canmore goaltender turning aside 36 shots before getting beaten on the Bandits final shot of the game.

MacPherson-Ridgewell’s seventh goal of the season into an empty net closed out the scoring.

The game got feisty in the final moments with four misconducts – two to each team – and five minor penalties handed out during a scrum with five seconds remaining. Bandit Liam Fitezpatrick was given a gross misconduct out of the melee, which was followed up by a two-game suspension.

Brooks would outshoot Canmore 37-28 with 15 of those shots coming in the third period. Brendan Holahan was in goal for the Bandits and saw his personnel 12-game winning streak, dating back to the start of this season, snapped.

On the power play, Canmore was 1-for-5 and Brooks was 0-for-6.

The last decade of clashes between Canmore and Brooks in Canmore have been dominated by the nearly perennial league champions, so even though the Bandits were missing six regulars away at the World Junior A Challenge there was plenty of reason to celebrate. The Eagles’ win over the Bandits was their first during the regular season since Nov. 18, 2017 – a run of 13 consecutive games.

Brooks will be back in Canmore on Saturday, Feb. 17.

Dragons 0 at Eagles 5 

Malin earned his first shutout of the season in the third meeting of these two former South Division rivals.

Malin turned aside all 18 shots he faced as the Dragons were short on fire this night.

The contest was scoreless through the first period. In the second period, Canmore goals came from Ziegler, followed by Josh Hoesktra and Tallman on the power play to open a 3-0 lead.

Jones scored two goals in the opening 4:45 of the third period to put the game well out of the Dragons’ reach.

Ethan Look finished with three assists.

Canmore fired 26 shots at Drumheller goaltender Sean Cootes.

Each team had six power-play opportunities, with Canmore scoring twice.

This was the third meeting in 18 days between the two teams but first Canmore win. The teams will complete their season series this coming Thursday in Drumheller.

Pontiacs 1 at Eagles 4 

Jones, who scored the final two goals in Canmore’s previous game, opened the scoring against Bonnyville at 13:41 of the first period and the Eagles never looked back.

Tallman, on the power play, and MacPherson-Ridgewell added goals in the first half of the second period to extend the lead to 3-0 before Nicolas Beaudoin scored for Bonnyville.

Kayden Rawji’s fourth goal this season, into an empty net with 13 seconds remaining in the third period, completed the night.

Bonnyville outshot Canmore 30-29, with Malin in goal for the Eagles and Bodee Weiss in goal for the Pontiacs.

On the power play, Canmore finished 1-for-3 and Bonnyville was 0-for-2.

Canmore has won all three season meetings between the two teams, with their final meeting of the season set for Friday, Feb. 2 in Bonnyville.