Tuesday's game at the Canmore Recreation Centre had a kind of déjà vu feel. The Canmore Eagles were facing the high powered Brooks Bandits and were on a similar mission as when they faced the Brooks Bandits in the 2nd Round of last year’s playoffs. In Game 3 of last year’s series, the Eagles were able to snap the Bandits’ 35 game winning streak (including regular season and playoffs) with a 4-3 Overtime win. This time, the Eagles were looking to snap the Bandits’ 18 games win streak to start of the season and their 51 straight regular-season wins. Just like Game 3 and Game 4 of last year’s series, the game went to extra time, but unfortunately, the Eagles fell just short, losing 5-4 in a shootout. With the single point earned, the Eagles record is now 6-9-2 for 14 points and the Eagles remain in 5th place, 4 points back of the 4th place Camrose Kodiaks.
“I thought it was a good game," said Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne. "I thought our guys put in a lot of effort. Obviously it’s a daunting task. You get yourself behind the 8-ball a little with them and it can be a difficult team to focus on and they have so many weapons, they can hurt you with. But I thought the guys did a great job sticking with the game plan and creating a lot of opportunities for us offensively and we good in a lot of areas tonight.”
Eagles Captain Tian Rask who was one of the team’s biggest offensive contributors tonight with 2 goals, including the tying goal late in regulation, also spoke saying, “I thought we played well as a unit. I mean everyone is doing their job out there, everyone was contributing in a way doing the right things, so I think just getting to overtime and give them a scare, it shows that we can play with the top team in the country.”
Not much happened in the first half of the opening frame as the shots on goal were 3 apiece with neither getting great scoring chances. The Eagles were able to get the first goal of the game when Captain Tian Rask scored his first of 2 goals of the night at 15:39 with Tristan Zandee and Carter Coles getting the assists. Before the end of the 1st period, the Bandits scored two quick goals only 41 seconds apart and both came from their leading scorer Randy Hernandez who scored at 18:13 and 18:54 respectively to give the Bandits the lead going into the 1st intermission.
In the 2nd period, the Bandits extend their lead at 3:59 on a goal from TJ Hughes who cashed in on an Eagles turnover. But 1:41 later, the Eagles answered back on a goal from leading scorer Alex Young with his 1st of 2 goals on the night. Zach Carlson picked up the assist.
In the 3rd period, it was Young again at 4:43 to tie the game at 3-3. The 3rd year veteran Forward now has 15 goals this season. Connor Lyons and Zach Carlson assisted. The Bandits, however, regained the lead on a Power Play goal from Defenceman Tim Rego at 6:40. The Eagles didn't let up and with their goalie pulled for an extra attacker, they were able to tie the game with 1:07 left in regulation on Captain Tian Rask’s 2nd goal of the game and 6th of the season to force Overtime. Dylan Witzke and Jared Bowman assisted.
Rask who hasn’t had the start of the season he was hoping for offensively spoke saying, "I mean it’s been a struggle for me offensively, but that’s ok. I’ve been focusing on my d-zone, doing the right things, the guys have kept me upbeat and happy. Getting two tonight is a huge monkey off my back.”
In Overtime at 3-on-3, both teams had some good chances to end the game and the Bandits had a power play with 41 seconds left, but nothing was solved, so a shootout was needed to decide a winner. The Bandits’ 1st shooter TJ Hughes scored the lone of the shootout to allow the Bandits to improve their record to a perfect 18-0.
It was Kadin Kilpatrick between the pipes for the 3rd straight game and the 19-year-old stopped 30 of the 34 shots he faced. In 4 starts since joining the Eagles 2 weeks ago, he has yet to lose in regulation as his record is 2-0-2.
The Eagles' next task is a big one when they host the Camrose Kodiaks (8-6-2) for a doubleheader on Friday and Saturday night. Puck drop for both games is 7 pm.
It will be the first time this season that both teams will face each other and with 4 points separating the 2 teams and the Kodiaks holding on the last home-ice advantage spot in the South Division, this weekend’s games will have a lot of implications on the standings.
“I think our guys are feeling a little bit better about their game obviously,” said Coach Milne. “We’re not getting the exact results we wanted, but I think we’re close, we’re there and we’re putting up a fight. At the end of it, we’re asking our guys to play a certain way and they’ve done that for the last 4, 5 games. So with that, we’re being rewarded with some points and I think if we can do that, we’re heading into a pretty important time of the season playing Camrose this weekend and then on the road for a bunch. We’re in a good spot, where we’re playing some good hockey at the right time.”
EAGLES FUN FACTS:
- In their last 5 games, the Eagles have picked up at least a point in 4 of those games with 2 wins and 2 overtime/shootout losses.
- After the pair of home games vs the Camrose Kodiaks this weekend, the Eagles will head on the road for their 4 next games (Lloydminster, Bonnyville, Drumheller and Okotoks) before returning home on November 16 against the Spruce Grove Saints.
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