Canmore Eagles winger Bryce Platt goes to try and kick the puck past Calgary Mustang's goalie Michael Barabash at the Canmore Rec Centre.
ARYN TOOMBS RMO PHOTO
With a mere seven games left in the regular season, the Canmore Eagles picked up three of a possible six points through a critical portion of their schedule as they continue to chase second place in the AJHL's southern division.
The Eagles defeated the Camrose Kodiaks 4-1 on Thursday (Feb. 9), followed by a 3-2 shootout loss to the Kodiaks on (Feb. 10). On Tuesday, the Eagles held a 3-2 lead in the third period against the Okotoks Oilers, before giving up two goals to drop a 4-3 decision.
“They were two tough opponents. We played well in game one, in game two we didn't start great and we ran into a hot goalie,” said Eagles general manager and head coach Andrew Milne. “But I think top to bottom we were good. Our goaltending was solid, we played solid defence and that's what we have to do in the playoffs.”
The Eagles are on a hot streak, posting an 8-1-1 record in their last 10 games. Milne said the team is getting strong goaltending and playing well defensively, which is what they will need to find success in the playoffs.
Against Okotoks on Tuesday, the team still managed to give up 39 shots, and were outshot 16-5 in the first period. Logan Ferguson, Matt Forchuk and Adam Tisdale scored for the Eagles, however, the team struggled on the powerplay and gave up seven powerplays to the Oilers. The Oilers now sit three points ahead of the Eagles in the standings.
“We gave them too much. Getting outshot 16-5 in the first period is unacceptable. To defeat them will take a full team effort. Their goalie plays the puck as well as a defenceman, so you can't dump it in against them. If we get them in the playoffs, we'll know what to do,” Milne said.
On Friday, the Eagles outplayed Camrose, throwing 39 shots on net, but couldn't beat the Kodiaks goaltender in overtime, losing 3-2 in the shootout. Dondre Watson and Forchuk both scored for the Eagles. Thomas Davis was solid in net for the Eagles in the loss.
On Thursday, Bryce Platt and Braden Saretsky both scored twice to lead the Eagles attack, as they trounced the Kodiaks 4-1.
Davis started all three games over the critical stretch, and Milne said he was solid throughout. His strong play has created a battle for the number one position, as Ryan Bontorin and Davis both push one another for starts.
“Davis has been good over the three games. We've established there is going to be a battle and it puts a little pressure on both guys to be strong,” Milne said.
In order to jump up the standings, the Eagles will need to defeat the Calgary Canucks twice over the next seven games as they battle for home ice advantage. The Eagles also face Okotoks twice, so second place in the southern division is not out of the question.
The Eagles also lost Jake Ashton for the remainder of the season. Ashton tore a ligament in his knee and is out indefinitely.