The Lloydminster Bobcats capitalized for three powerplay goals to down the Canmore Eagles 5-0 in an Alberta Junior Hockey League game played Saturday night before 1,279 fans in Lloydminster.
The Eagles also dropped a tight 5-4 decision to the hometown Bonnyville Pontiacs on Friday night and now sit with an 8-6-1 record at the quarter mark of the 60-game AJHL season.
“We’ve played a lot of hockey games in the past week and this two-game northern road trip may be amongst the toughest in the league this year,” said Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne, in reference to Bonnyville and Lloydminster holding home records of 7-2-1 and 7-1 respectively. “ We lost a tough one in Bonnyville on Friday night and were only down 2-0 after two periods of play in Lloydminster, but then we just kind of ran out of gas. These are two very strong northern teams and two very tough arenas to play in, and we were in both games pretty much to the end. Not to make excuses, but our schedule also had us playing six games in the past 12 days, and I think it eventually just caught up to us. If you are going to win in these two rinks, you better have everything going your way.”
Despite allowing five goals, Canmore goaltender Ryan Bontorin was the Eagles “Star of the Game” on Saturday night in Lloydminster as the Eagles were outshot 34-17 by the Bobcats. Bontorin was also in the Eagles net during Friday night’s loss in Bonnyville where he faced 45 Pontiac shots.
“Ryan (Bontorin) played well and certainly kept us in these two games with some big-time stops,” said Milne, of the 19-year-old Calgary rookie who is now 3-3-1 on the season. “Ryan Gilchrist (5-2) has also played well for us when called upon, so we feel confident going forward with both of our netminders.”
The Eagles will now enjoy five days of rest and practice before they face the 8-3-1 Brooks Bandits in a home and home series next weekend. The Bandits, who defeated the Eagles 11-2 and 6-2 during the opening weekend of the season, will be in Canmore on Friday, Oct. 23 before the two teams return to Brooks for the rematch on Saturday, Oct. 24.
“It certainly doesn’t get any easier for us, but we look forward to getting some rest this week and preparing for another big test next weekend,” said Milne. “Brooks certainly had their way with us the last time we met, but we’ve made a few changes to our lineup and now that we've got 15 regular season games under our belt, we should be much better prepared for this match-up. We'll be ready to go.”
NOTEBOOK: Twenty-year-old defenceman Brett Schimmel played his 100 game in an Eagle uniform last night . . . With the shut-out loss in Lloydminster last night, Eagle forward Lane Olson saw his 10 game point streak come to an end.