Sei Spo Press
The Canmore Eagles found themselves on the wrong end of defensive battle Wednesday night as they fell 3-1 to the Okotoks Oilers.
Two second-period goals by Conyr Hellyer gave the Oilers all they needed to get past a game Eagles’s squad who were missing a pair of key defencemen for this Alberta Junior Hockey League clash at the Canmore Recreation Centre.
Canmore’s Kayden Rawji scored the lone goal of the first period, a power-play marker, for his seventh goal of the season. The Eagles were outshot 16-7 in the opening period with Matthew Malin superb in goal and he never let up all game long.
An empty net goal by Zeth Kindrachuk, who also assisted on both of Hellyer’s goals sealed the victory with 85 seconds remaining.
Canmore was without key defencemen Finn McLaughlin and Brody Tallman for this game. They will both be out for the foreseeable future, On the recent road trip, McLaughlin suffered a broken wrist that will have him sidelined for at least six weeks, while Tallman is listed as a couple of weeks with an upper body injury.
That left a defence that featured five rookies in Luke Chase, Casey Black, Brody Mortenson, Ryan Nolan and affiliate callup Jaxson Doyle from the Okotoks Oilers U18 team. Only Emanuel Hudson has long-term, junior hockey experience as he is in his second season with the Eagles. For most of the game, they weathered the test. The exception being a four-minute spell in the second period when Hellyer capitalized for his two goals.
For the game opening goal, Rawji, who was suspended for the last two games, scored with a one-timer from the inside right wing has marks off a face-off win by Rhett Dekowny.
While down 2-1, Canmore had an extended 5-on-3 midway through the third period but were unable to find the equalizer. Then with the Eagles employing an extra attacker in the final two minutes, a misplay at the Okotoks’ blue line saw Hudson fall trying to keep the puck in the offensive zone which allowed the Oilers to grab an empty net goal.
Okotoks outshot Canmore 38-28 with Parker Sawka in goal for the Oilers.
Each team was 1-for-3 on the power play.
Okotoks finished with the season series with four wins in the six matchups with Canmore.
Canmore added another player to its roster just prior to the Jan. 10 Hockey Canada imposed signing deadline. Nick Anisimovicz has joined the Eagles from the Western Hockey League’s Tri-City Americans for the remainder of this season. The 16-year-old forward played two games for Canmore last season, scoring twice in his AJHL debut. This year with the Americans, he had three assists in 21 games.
Canmore remains in fifth place in the South Division with a record of 17-20-2-2. The Eagles next play a key doubleheader against the Camrose Kodiaks, who are 17-22-2-0 and just two points back of the Eagles in sixth place. Both games are at the Canmore Recreation Centre, with 7 p.m. starts on Friday and Saturday.