Sweet at home, sour on the road
Matthew Malin earned his second shutout of the season as the hometown Canmore Eagles scorched the Calgary Canucks 6-0 on Tuesday, Jan. 12 in the first of four Alberta Junior Hockey League games for the team last week.
The Eagles then took their game on the road playing three northwest opponents which all ended in losses: 5-2 to the Grande Prairie Storm on Friday, Jan. 12; 4-2 to Whitecourt Wolverines on Saturday, Jan. 13; and 5-2 to the Drayton Valley Thunder on Sunday, Jan. 14.
The team made three roster moves prior to the Jan. 10th signing deadline. Returning to the team after stints in the WHL are a pair of 20004-born players: goaltender Matthew Kieper, most recently with the Swift Current Broncos, and defenceman Ryan Nolan from the Kamloops Blazers.
Leaving the team is 2005-born goaltender John MacPherson, who joined the Eagles this season from the Regina Pats Canadians U18 team. The Martensville, Sask. native was named the Saskatchewan U18AAA league’s top goaltender last season but struggled in his first season of junior hockey. Through 15 games, he had a 4.65 goals-against average and an .865 save percentage.
Eagles rookie forward Tavynn Schlaht, who was given a gross misconduct penalty in the final minute of a 4-0 loss to the Lloydminster Bobcats on Jan. 6, was handed a five-game suspension under the Canadian Junior Hockey League suspension guidelines for maltreatment, with four of those games served during this past week’s games.
Canmore continues to hold onto 12th place at 18-24-1-1, two points back of the 11th place Storm (17-19-2-1) and six points ahead of the 13th place Camrose Kodiaks (13-24-0-6). This week, the Eagles host the Storm on Wednesday (Jan. 17) at the Banff Fenlands Arena and the Spruce Grove Saints on Friday (Jan. 19) at the Canmore Recreation Centre. Both games have 7 p.m. start times.
Canucks 0 at Eagles 6
Malin made 27 saves as Canmore posted its second consecutive win over 9th place Calgary (22-20-9-1) at the Canmore Recreation Centre in the past month: the other win was 3-1 on Dec. 22 after dropping two games at the Max Bell Centre in Calgary earlier this season.
Tyler Loughman scored twice, giving the St. Louis, Missouri native 12 goals on the season.
The Eagles held period leads of 1-0 and 3-0: Cohen Daoust (his 2nd goal of the season) scored in the first period; Josh Hoekstra (7) and Loughman scored in the second period; Bryson Insinger (2), Logan Ziegler (19) and Loughman all counted goals in the third period.
Canmore outshot Calgary 43-27 with Julian Molinaro starting in goal for the Canucks, giving up six goals on 38 shots over 46:33, with Chase Cruz finishing up the contest and making five saves.
Molinaro’s night came to an end 6½ minutes into the third period when he got into heated dispute with Eagles Kayden Rawji after giving up the sixth goal. The Canucks goaltender was handed 34 minutes in penalties for his exchange with Rawji, who was tagged for an unsportsmanlike minor penalty. Three more misconducts would be handed out in the final period, including a 10-minute misconduct to Loughman, who missed the final two minutes of the contest.
On the power play, Canmore would finish 2-for-5 and Calgary was 0-for-3.
Eagles 2 at Storm 5
Grande Prairie won for the third time in three meetings with the Eagles this season, using a as three-goal first period to take control of the game.
Goals by Matthew Strilets and Colin Doherty just 21 seconds apart in the 16th minute snapped a 1-1 tie. Dayne Tews opened the scoring.
Both Canmore goals came from Loughman, giving him back-to-back, two-goal games and 14 goals for the season. The first would knot the game at 1-1 at 6:36 of the first period. The second came at 18:15 of the second period making it a 4-2 game.
Grande Prairie would take a 4-1 lead in the second period on a goal by Cyprus Smith-Davies with Matt Corbet closing out the scoring late in the third period.
Grande Prairie outshot Canmore 28-22 with Nicholas Jones in goal for the Storm and Malin for the Eagles.
On the power play, the Storm were 1-for-6 and the Eagles were 0-for-6.
The teams will meet for the final time this regular season in Banff on Wednesday (Jan. 17).
Eagles 2 at Wolverines 4
Kieper made his return to the Canmore goal but it wasn’t enough to save his team as the hometown Wolverines overcame a 2-1 deficit with three third-period goals.
In the first period, Whitecourt would open the scoring with the Eagles tying it up on Rhett Dekowny’s ninth goal of the season. Ziegler scored his team-leading 20th goal this campaign to give the Eagles the lead in the second period.
For Whitecourt, Travis Verbeek scored in the first period, with Evan Arnold, Joey Melo and Spencer Rheaume all scoring in the third period.
Whitecourt outshot Canmore 28-21 with Lukas Renaud in goal for the Woverines.
For Canmore, Kieper made his first appearance since Nov. 15, 2023. The Winnipeg native started the season with the WHL Kamloops Blazers, where he played two games. He joined the Eagles in November, playing four games that month. The WHL Swift Current Broncos would add the goaltender to their roster at the end of November – where he played nine games posting a 5-2-1 record with a 3.42 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage – before being returning to the Eagles.
On the power play, Whitecourt was 2-for-7 and Canmore was 1-for-6.
The Wolverines have dominated and won all three games contested between the two teams this season, with a final regular season clash coming Thursday, Jan. 25 in Canmore.
Eagles 2 at Thunder 5
Drayton Valley may be outside the playoff picture but they have Canmore’s number winning three of four meetings this season. The Thunder have just 14 wins through 43 games this season and are in 15th place with 30 points.
The two teams traded goals in each of the first two periods with Drayton Valley then marshalling three more in the first nine minutes of the third period to pull away for the win.
Much like the previous evening for Canmore, Dekowny (his 10th goal) would score in the first period and Ziegler (21) would score in the second period.
For Drayton Valley, Xander Schulte scored in the first period, Matthias Bessy scored in the second period, Anton Yatshyshin got the game winner early in the third period followed by two goals from Ty Gordon.
Drayton Valley outshot Canmore 38-35 with Cameron Doucette in goal for the Thunder and Malin in goal for the Eagles.
On the power play, Drayton Valley was 2-for-3 and Canmore went 0-for-6 with just nine minor penalties called this game.
Drayton Valley (14-27-2-0) is one point behind the 14th place and final playoff spot holders Fort McMurray Oil Barons (13-25-2-3) and two points back of the 13th place Kodiaks. The Olds Grizzlys (10-28-2-3) are in the cellar and six points adrift off a playoff spot with 19 games remaining.
At the top end, the Brooks Bandits (37-4-0-0) hold down top spot with 74 points followed by the Sherwood Park Crusaders (34-8-1-0) with 69 points.