Eagles bounce Kodiaks twice to open 2017
Thursday, Jan 05, 2017 06:00 am
The Camrose Kodiaks learned a valuable lesson to begin 2017: don’t upset Matt Forchuk.
The Eagles captain was a force of nature in back-to-back AJHL wins for the squad, which rolled over the Kodiaks 4-2 and 4-3 at home Sunday (Jan. 1) and Monday (Jan. 2) at Alex Kaleta Arena. Forchuk scored three goals in two games against the Kodiaks; a team he truly enjoys beating.
“I didn’t send them a Christmas card,” Forchuk said.
Forchuk, the AJHL’s leading scorer with 56 points in 33 games, is accustomed to drawing heat from opposing teams, and the Kodiaks were no different. After battling through some nasty stick work and a few muggings, the crafty playmaker went to work.
He opened scoring Sunday on the powerplay with a quick shot off the faceoff that surprised the Kodiaks. He used the exact same play Monday in the third period to spark an Eagles comeback, as the team rallied from a 3-1 deficit to take the win.
“I took the faceoff and thought their centre was a bigger, slower guy, and I thought if I went through and went short side it would work. It doesn’t always work, but it did that time,” Forchuk said.
The entire Eagles team played inspired hockey against Camrose. Trevor Van Steinburg, Logan Ferguson and Coy Prevost all scored in Sunday’s tilt, while Bryce Platt and Ferguson found the back of the net on Monday.
After an evenly played match on Sunday, the Eagles came out buzzing in the first period on Monday, dominating the puck possession game. They cycled the puck with ease in the Kodiaks zone, but still fell behind 1-0 after a bouncing puck deflected past Eagles goaltender Ryan Bontorin.
Forchuk tied it up on the powerplay after Saretsky threaded a pass into the slot, which the sniper buried with ease.
The Kodiaks scored twice in 30 seconds to open the third, again off a few strange bounces, but quickly ran out of gas. After Camrose lost focus, launching attacks upon Forchuk and Ferguson, the Eagles exploded in the third for three goals. Forchuk launched the comeback, before Platt shoveled in the puck on the powerplay to knot the game at three. Ferguson, the league’s second leading scorer, netted his 22nd of the year and the game winner to seal the deal.
“When you piss off a Forchuk, Ferguson, Tisdale and Saretsky, they are going to capitalize,” said Eagles general manager and head coach Andrew Milne. “They wanted nothing more than to score there (in the third).”
Milne praised team leaders for taking charge against a tough team, and said the foot soldiers followed with big shot blocks and strong defensive efforts to hold onto the win.
“The character we saw was awesome. To come back like that in the third, I like the gritty effort they put in,” Milne said.
The Eagles were well prepared for the Kodiaks this time, Milne said, as they had a game plan to play a cool and mature game. He praised his leadership group for doing just that.
“We knew how they were going to play. They are right in your face, they play hard, they don’t give you time and space, they are questionable in some of their checking techniques; the frustrating part is the referee has to be involved just as much as we are.”
The AJHL trade deadline arrives on Jan. 10, and Milne said he’s prepared to make a move to shore up the team in a push for a championship. That will mean sacrificing some of the team’s high octane offence for defence.
“That’s going to be the plan. We know defence wins championships and we can definitely score. We may have to look at the situation. We’ve talked about it as a staff. If the situation presents itself, we’ll take it,” Milne said.
The Eagles are back on the road for their next three games, as they face off against Okotoks, Brooks and the Calgary Mustangs. They are back at home Jan. 13-14 with games against Brooks.