Regular season opener quickly approaches
The Canmore Eagles have completed their preseason slate of games and now look towards the start of a new Alberta Junior Hockey League campaign.
The regular season begins Friday, Sept. 15 with the Okotoks Oilers visiting the Canmore Recreation Centre. Game time is 7 p.m.
While the team failed to win any of its four exhibition games, there is reason for optimism for a successful regular season with plenty of veterans returning on defence and a proven goaltender to build from a strong base for a long and gruelling 60-game season.
Goaltender Matthew Malin (2003 born, San Jose Jr. Sharks minor hockey affiliation) is in his third season with Canmore with 57 games already between the pipes with a better than .900 save percentage over that time, and a league award as the top rookie goaltender in the then South Division in 2021-22. Backing up is John MacPherson (2005, Regina Pat Canadians), coming off being named the Saskatchewan Major U18 AAA Hockey League top goalie and first-team all-star selection.
On defence, the returning players include Casey Black (2005, Calgary Flames), Luke Chase (2003, St. Louis Blues), Emmanuel Hudson (2004, Lethbridge Hurricanes), Brody Mortensen (2004, Warmen Wildcats) and Brody Tallman (2003, Lethbridge).
Looking to pick up for the lost offence from graduating players are returning forwards Hunter Burgeson (2003, Airdrie CFR Bisons), Rhett Dekowny (2004, Warmen), Canmore’s Owen Jones (2004, Airdrie), Tyler Loughman (2003, St Louis), Kayden Rawji (2004, Edmonton SSAC Athletics), Tavyn Schlaht (2005, Notre Dame Hounds), Cole Wirun (2004, Notre Dame) and Logan Ziegler (2004, Calgary Buffaloes).
As for the rookie class, the 2022-23 Edmonton Junior Oilers are well represented on this year’s Eagles with defence Josh Missfeldt (2005) and Carter Rimstad (2006) joined by forwards Stefan Serediak (2005) and twin brothers Carter Coutu (2005) and Zach Coutu (2005).
The defence corps is rounded out by newcomer Keston Beagle (2006, Red Deer Chiefs).
Rounding out the first-year forwards are rookies Bryson Insinger (2007, Calgary Bulls) and Banff’s Haruki Morikawa (2005, Airdrie) Tavynn Schlaht (2005, Notre Damn)
The Eagles’ regular season winds up March 2 on home ice against the Sherwood Park Crusaders. Games of note at the Canmore Recreation Centre include traditional league power houses Spruce Grove Saints on Tuesday, Sept. 26 and Friday, Jan. 19, and the three times defending national champion Brooks Bandits on Tuesday, Dec. 12 and Saturday, Feb. 17.
The AJHL has changed to a balanced schedule, which means that each of its 16 teams will play each other four times (two home and two away). The league has also removed its North and South distinctions with all teams grouped into one division from which the top 14 teams will advance to the playoffs, which begin in March and conclude with the national title tournament in May.
THE NEST: The Eagles played four games over nine days as part of its preseason preparation, losing twice each to the Olds Grizzlys (4-1 on Sept. 1 and 6-2 on Sept. 6) and Calgary Canucks (4-3 on Sept. 8 and 7-2 on Sept. 9). … Tallman did not play in any of the exhibition games but is expected to be ready for the season opener. … Mortensen and Wirun led all scorers during preseason games, each with two goals and one assist. … All Eagles’ home and away games are also available online through a FloHockey subscription available at flohockey.tv.