Moving on

Moving on

The Canmore Eagles are headed to the second round of the Alberta Junior Hockey League playoffs after an impressive 5-0 victory over the Lloydminster Bobcats on Sunday (March 24) evening.

Canmore won the best-of-seven series 4-2, winning the first game 8-3 in Lloydminster and all three games played at the Canmore Recreation Centre, which featured 825 rapturous fans for Game 6.

Five different players scored for Canmore starting with Logan Zigler’s second playoff goal just 35 seconds into the contest. The Calgary native took a pass from Nathan Look at the Bobcats’ blueline, drove down the right-wing boards, pressed to the goal, cutting across the front of the net past Bobcats goaltender Jack Solomon and with a forehanded flick put the puck into the far and empty side of the cage.

As it turned out it would be the only goal the Eagles would need this game. Matthew Malin recorded consecutive shutouts on home ice. While he needed to make just 12 saves in a 3-0 win in Game 4, the San Francisco, Calif. native was more thoroughly tested Sunday with 24 shots directed his way.

For Canmore, it was another dominant performance on home ice, firing 41 shots on the visitors. Carter Coutu scored his second of the playoffs in the second period. In the third period, Rhett Dekowny scored his third of the playoffs, followed by Owen Jones’s second and Zach Coutu’s fourth. It was also the second time in this series that the Coutu twins each scored in a game. Carter Coutu had the game winner in Game 3 – a 4-3 win.

Tyler Loughman finished with two assists and took over the AJHL playoff scoring lead with eight points on one goal and seven assists. In addition to their goals, Dekowny, Jones and Ziegler also picked up assists.

Malin finished this series with a 2.16 goals-against average, a .910 save percentage and the only two shutouts by any goaltender in these playoffs.

Canmore, the No. 7 seed in these playoffs, will now take on the regular-season champion Whitecourt Wolverines in the next round. The Wolverines defeated the No. 8 Camrose Kodiaks in five games, wrapping up the series with a 7-1 win on Friday (March 22).

A sixth game was made necessary when Lloydminster came from behind to defeat Canmore 4-3 on its home ice on Friday. After falling behind 1-0 on regular season scoring leader Caden Cabana’s only goal of this playoff round, a shorthanded effort, the Eagles took a 3-1 lead into the third period on goals by Brody Mortensen (his first playoff goal) in the first period, followed by Dekowny and then Emanuel Hudson (his second goal) in the second period.

In the third period, Ishan Mittoo’s goal 38 seconds in was followed by two goals from Ben Aucoin – his third and fourth of the series – with the Moncton, N.B. native’s game winner coming with 12 seconds left in regulation time.

Lloydminster outshot Canmore 33-31 with Solomon and Malin in the respective goals.

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

The Bobcats power play fizzled throughout the series, including going 0-for-7 in Game 6 – and just 2-for-24 or 8.3 per cent in the series — while the Eagles were 1-for-6 in the decisive game and 8-for-30 or 26.7 per cent over the six games.

Canmore heads to Whitecourt for Games 1 and 2 at JDA Place on Friday, March 29 and Saturday, March 30. The series arrives in Canmore for Game 3 on Tuesday, April 2 and Game 4 on Wednesday, April 3. If necessary, Game 5 will be in Whitecourt on Friday, April 5, Game 6 in Canmore on Sunday, April 7, and Game 7 in Whitecourt on Tuesday, April 9. The winner advances to the AJHL championship series.

The other teams in the championship hunt are the No. 3 Calgary Canucks, who take on the No. 5 Drumheller Dragons. The Canucks earned their spot into the second playoff round with a 5-4 overtime win over the No. 6 Grande Prairie Storm on Sunday evening. It was the only road victory in that series with the first five games each won by the home team. The Dragons advanced over the No. 4 Bonnyville Pontiacs, sweeping the series with four consecutive wins.

Playoff tickets for Canmore home games are available online at and it is recommended they be purchased this way to avoid disappointment at the box office on game day. If Game 6 is any indication, tickets for Canmore home games will be in great demand and quite possibly in short supply on game day.