It was a busy week for transactions in the Alberta Junior Hockey League as the trade deadline was Friday (Jan.10). The Canmore Eagles were among the most active teams as they made moves that saw 3 players leaving the Eagles nest and 4 players coming in.
On Wednesday (Jan.8 ) the Eagles made a big trade involving 4 players when they sent two 2000 born players, Forward Max Giangualano and Defenceman Carter Coles to the Grande Prairie Storm in exchange for 2000 born Forward Lukas Jirousek and 2001 born Defenceman Zachary Cunningham and future considerations.
Giangualano and Coles were both in their 3rd season with the Eagles and Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne said that they both needed a change of scenery.
“I think what it came down to for our guys, I think both guys are quality individuals, good players," said Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne. "Max and Carter have been here for a while. Obviously, Max hasn’t had the season he wanted to have. We both agreed on that. We had high expectations and so did he. And we tried a lot this year to work with on Max, see what we can do. Max came to the conclusion that maybe a change of scenery would be best for him and helping him proceed in his career. We were willing to accommodate that. So we took our time and did our due diligence and found that the trade we had was a good one and worked out well for us. As for Carter, he was little stalled in his time here. He was probably looking for an opportunity to refresh and re-energize. We were able to give him that.”
Giangualano and Coles have had similar paths in their Hockey careers. They both played their Minor Hockey with the Calgary Buffaloes Association. They both joined the Eagles as affiliate players in the 2016-17 season, before making the jump full time with the team the following season as 17 year-olds.
Giangualano played a total of 149 games in an Eagles uniform, amassing 46 goals and 79 points.
Coles also played 149 games as an Eagle and his career totals are 3 goals and 30 points.
Coach Milne was asked about the two newest members of the Eagles, Lukas Jirousek and Zachary Cunningham saying, “I think with Cunningham, he’s a very offensive gifted Defenceman. He’s highly skilled. I think he’s in a situation where his season has not gone the way he would like. So we’re probably, again, I thought we sorted washed there with the two players. Obviously, Zach has a little less experience than Carter, but in that situation, we gained a year, so I felt it’s an advantage for us. But he’s a guy we know can play high offence and we wanted to do that here with us. In Jirousek, he’s a big heavy body, we saw him a lot in Olds. He plays heavy, he plays hard, he’s quick on pucks, he plays strong down low. We really want him to be that when he gets here as well. I know we lost a lot in both Carter and Max, but hopefully, we gained it back.”
Cunningham is from Grande Prairie, AB. He’s in his 2nd season in the AJHL. Last season in his rookie campaign with the Storm, he had 6 goals and 12 points in 54 games. This season, he has 7 assists in 28 games.
Jirousek hails from Whitehorse, Yukon. Last season was his 1st season in the AJHL and he had 10 goals and 23 points in 54 games with the Olds Grizzlys. He was traded to Grande Prairie in the summer months and so far this season, he has 6 goals and 12 points in 29 games.
Both Jirousek and Cunningham made their Eagles debut Friday night against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.
“I love it. Honestly, it was a loud crowd [Friday Night],” said Lukas Jirousek after the game. “The team has great offence, a lot of speed, I really like that. It’s nice, great billets and a gorgeous place to live. I am really excited.”
Cunningham also expressed his first impressions after playing his 1st game as an Eagle saying, “I thought it was great. I think the boys were real good. I like to set some big plays, I like the offence and you know the fans were great too. It was awesome to play in the building. I thought overall, it was awesome.”
On Friday, the deadline day for teams to make transactions, the Eagles acquired 2000 born Defenceman Cameron Chin from the Spruce Grove Saints in exchange for future considerations. Then the Eagles sent 20-year-old veteran Defenceman Brent Schuldhaus to the Olds Grizzlys in exchange for future considerations.
“We knew that Cameron Chin was going to be available,” said Coach Milne. “In order to do that, we had to move out a Defenceman. The opportunity to move out a 20-year-old and bringing a younger guy was the best. What it came down to was the fact that we wanted to get a year younger and doing so, we had a move a guy out. You know it’s almost like a swap, but we gained a year.”
Schuldhaus and Chin were teammates with Spruce Grove during the 1st half of the 2018-19 season. The Eagles acquired Schuldhaus in late November of 2018. In 69 games in an Eagles uniform, the Calgary, AB native and former Shattuck St Mary’s product scored 11 goals and picked up 27 points.
Chin is in his 2nd season in the AJHL. The Burnaby, BC product had 5 goals and 16 points in 48 games last season as a rookie. This season, he has 3 goals and 16 points in 39 games.
“He’s a guy that comes from a really good program,” said Coach Milne about Chin. “He’s played two years in a great program in Spruce Grove, so he figured out how to win and he’s done a lot of that in his career. You know the leadership side was important for us. He’s a 19-year-old that can play two years here or the remainder this year and next year and he’s got good leadership qualities. He’s a puck-moving Defenceman, a guy that can get up ice really quick and make good plays. 16 points in his 39 games played. We’re excited about that opportunity, we gained a year and get a guy that’s come from a really good program.”
And finally, the Eagles added a player who was already a part of the organization. It’s 2001 born Forward Tye Carriere. After an outstanding campaign playing Midget AAA in his hometown of Red Deer when he had 18 goals and 32 points in 34 points, Carriere was signed to a card with the Eagles and was expected to make the jump with the team at the beginning of last season. However, he ended playing in the Western Hockey League with the Calgary Hitmen. In his 2 seasons with the Hitmen, Carriere played 66 games and he recorded 7 goals and 10 points.
“We are excited about Tye coming in,” said Coach Milne. “Obviously for him, it’s a tough go. He’s had a tough run here in the Western Hockey League with some poorly timed injuries. But he’s a guy we are familiar with out of Midget. We liked him coming out of Midget. Obviously, he made the decision to go to the Western league and now it comes down to just games played. He needs to get in the lineup and start playing some Hockey. We’re excited that he’s gonna be with us because he’s another big body that can play up the middle that can skate well. We add that age bracket as well. If he does stick around, we've got a couple of years, if not, it's great for developing and moving him on.”
Carriere is expected to make his Eagles debut Saturday night against the Lloydminster Bobcats.
Photo: #23 Zach Cunningham is one of the newest Eagles players.
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