All 16 teams of the Alberta Junior Hockey League descended on Calgary’s Max Bell Centre this past week for the annual AJHL Showcase. The annual event attracts more than 150 coaches and scouts from the professional world, NCAA and Canadian college and university programs and major junior.
Canmore took on the Calgary Canucks on Wednesday (Sept. 27) and the Blackfalds Bulldogs on Saturday (Sept. 30).
Eagles 1 vs Canucks 8
Tyler Loughman scored with 36 seconds remaining in this game as Canmore avoided being shutout as the Eagles struggled to find any momentum in the contest. The second meeting between these former South Division rivals in four days at the Max Bell Centre, the Canucks were again the dominant team from the opening whistle. The Sept. 24 encounter ended 6-3 for the home team.
In Wednesday’s game, the hosts took a 3-0 lead in the first period, stretched it to 5-0 in the second period and added three more goals in the third period. Sam Lozinski recorded a hat trick, scoring once in each period. Ty Hipkin scored twice. Singles came from Gavin Schmidt, Dylan Bidyk and Gavin Garland.
Loughman’s goal was his second of the season and the only goal the Eagles could muster at the Showcase.
Calgary outshot Canmore 34-26. Rookie John MacPherson started in goal for the Eagles, making 23 saves before giving way to Matthew Malin – three saves on three shots – for the final 11:50 of the contest. Spencer Borsos was in goal for the Canucks.
On the power play, Calgary was 2-for-6 and Canmore was 0-for-4.
Bulldogs 3 vs Eagles 0
Malin kept his team in this contest right up to the final minute when an empty net goal sealed a Blackfalds’ victory.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead with two goals in 17 seconds in the 15th minute of the first period. Edward Moskowitz and Ryan Shaw were the goal scorers. Dakota MacIntosh was credited with the goal into an empty net with 30 seconds remaining in the game.
Malin made 39 stops on 41 shots before being pulled with just under 2 ½ minutes remaining for the extra attacker. Ethan Morrow made 26 saves to earn his first shutout of the season for Blackfalds.
Canmore had plenty of opportunity to score in this game, including seven power-play chances compared to Blackfalds’ three. The Bulldogs would record one man-advantage goal.
Eagles make roster moves
The Canmore Eagles made some roster moves prior to the Showcase weekend.
Canmore acquired Josh Hoekstra from the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League.
The 20-year-old forward from Edmonton played four seasons of major junior hockey, appearing in 167 games – including 67 games in each of the past two campaigns. He registered 16 goals and 28 points during his time in the WHL. The 6-foot-1, left-handed shot’s best season was in 2022-23 when he had 10 goals and 7 assists.
Leaving the club are a trio of second year players, Kai Billey and Luke Chase, whose rights have been moved to the Nipawin Hawks of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, and Hunter Burgeson, whose rights are now with the SJHL Battleford North Stars.
The month ahead
Canmore finished the opening month of the AJHL regular season with one win, four regulation-time losses, no overtime defeats and one shootout loss for three points. The Eagles hold a share of 14th place along with the Whitecourt Wolverines (1-4-0-1) and Olds Grizzlys (1-5-0-1) at the conclusion of September.
Setting the pace in the AJHL are once again the Brooks Bandits (6-1-0-0) with 12 points from their opening seven games, followed closely by the Canucks (5-1-1-0) and Camrose Kodiaks (5-2-0-1).
It will be a busy October for Canmore, with 11 games on the schedule: only four of those games are at the Canmore Recreation Centre. The Eagles begin the month with their first lengthy road trip, with games against the Bonnyville Pontiacs on Friday (Oct. 6), Lloydminster Bobcats on Saturday (Oct. 7) and Camrose on Sunday (Oct. 8).
The next home game for Canmore is Thursday, Oct. 12 against the Grande Prairie Storm, 7 p.m. at the Canmore Recreation Centre.