Eagles coach has high hopes for AJHL season
Returning Canmore Eagle Braeden Music leads the rush during preseason action against the Olds Grizzlys.
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In what could be a crucial season for the future of the Canmore Eagles, head coach and general manager Andrew Milne has high hopes leading into the team’s first game of the season, Saturday (Sept. 8) against the Olds Grizzlys.
Despite a winless pre-season (0-4), Andrew Milne is confident his team should make the playoffs and could crack the top four in the division.
“With the veterans we’ve got, with the system we’ve got, the older guys know what’s required of them. We have to be a year wiser,” said Milne. “We want to be a playoff team. With our core group, we think we can be top four.”
At press time, the club’s final roster had yet to be set, as the Eagles are waiting to hear back from goaltender Cam Barnes. Last year, Barnes was 11-14-2 in 31 games with the Eagles, posting a 3.69 goals against average and .882 save percentage. He hasn’t attended the Eagles training camp, as he decided to try out for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL.
If Barnes does return, he may be the Eagles backup and push new number one goaltender Tyler Swabb for the starting job – leaving hopeful James Fisk’s future with the team uncertain.
Veteran Keegan Thompson’s spot on the team appears in jeopardy. Thompson scored five goals, with five assists and 65 penalty minutes last year for the Eagles, and tried to earn a spot with the Calgary Hitmen this year. However, several other young players have impressed at training camp and may have taken his job.
As for the offence, Milne is counting on former WHL forward Nils Moser to power the attack.
“We think he’ll provide a lot of offence. His hockey experience over the past three years taught him about leadership and what it takes to succeed. That will be a huge addition for the hockey club,” Milne said.
He’s also hoping new addition Jordan Revie can make a difference this year.
“Revie comes in with great skill. He put up 1.5 points per game last season in Junior B, and we think he can contribute,” Milne said. “And with Connor Wilson, our offence is going to be good. He makes players around him better.”
Zack Rassell, last year’s leading scorer, has returned with a new attitude, Milne said.
“Zack’s a more mature player now that he’s been around the block. He has a better understanding of the effort we need from him night in and night out,” Milne said.
Rassell missed two pre-season games with a wrist injury, but will be ready for the season opener.
Milne is also counting on new forward Alex Bechtold to keep the other teams honest.
“He dominated through fitness testing. He’s a physical force. We’re not expecting him to put up huge numbers.”
The defence will be led by returning players Ciaron Driscoll, Alex Barnes and Trey Phillips, with the addition of Ashton McLeod.
“He’s (McLeod) hard-nosed and hard to play against. He’s not the fastest, but he’ll keep players honest,” Milne said.
In other news, the Canmore Eagles announced the addition of former NHLer Jeremy Reich to the coaching staff. Reich played 90 games with the Boston Bruins between 2006 and 2008. He spent the last season playing pro hockey in Germany for ERC Llolstadt. Reich played with Milne for two seasons with the Swift Current Broncos.