Eagles sweep weekend 0
The Spruce Grove Saints' Dylan Richard, left, and Canmore Eagles forward Connor Wilson fight for the puck during a game Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. Justin Parsons/ Canmore Leader/ QMI Agency
The Canmore Eagles are perfect at home.
It may be early in the Alberta Junior Hockey League season, but the Eagles have put their first winning streak of the season in the books this past weekend.
The 4-1 win over the Spruce Grove Saints on Saturday, Sept. 15 gave the Eagles a sweep of weekend home dates. Canmore (now 2-1 on the season) also defeated the Whitecourt Wolverines 4-2 at the Canmore Recreation Centre on Friday.
"I am pretty happy with the way the guys have competed," said GM/ Head Coach Andrew Milne.
Sure it may be a modest two games, but it is a giant step for this junior A club, which had not posted back-back wins since its final two games of November of last season.
"We have worked at this for a couple of seasons now to get to the opportunity to play like this," said Milne.
The Eagles matched the Saint speed stride for stride, forcing the yearly North Division contenders into costly penalties and turnovers while staying disciplined.
"We knew coming in that their power play, which operates not in games but years in the 27 to 30 per cent range would be a big factor and we needed to make sure we didn't give it a chance," Milne said of his charges taking just two minor penalties. "(The Saints) make a lot of teams panic when it comes to their power play."
Zack Rassell put together consecutive one-goal and two-assist games this weekend, while Connor Hoeskstra scored his fourth goal in three games.
Like Friday night, the Eagles led 2-0 after the first period and 4-0 after 40 minutes. Ciaron Driscoll and Jordan Revie had the second-period goals.
Cam Barnes, in his start of the season, lost his shutout bid eight minutes into the third period on a goal by Tim Nolte.
"I think Zack came here on a mission, in that he was not happy with how he played after he left here," said Milne. While leading the Eagles in scoring last season, the then 19-year-old was traded to the Prince George Spruce Kings of the B.C. Hockey League. He was reacquired by the Eagles in the off-season.
"He really wants to send a message he appreciates us trading back for him," said Milne. "And I think we are seeing that. He is focussed and driven."
Rassell is currently tied for second in league scoring with two goals and four assists for six points.
Hoekstra's four goals gives him a share of the goal scoring lead in the league. He scored his fourth of 2010-2011 season in his eighth game and in his rookie season of 2009-2010 it took 16 games to get the same amount of offensive output as he has in three games this season.
"I got a hot stick right now and it's nice. People are finding me and I'm taking my opportunities to score," said Hoesktra, who also has one assist for five points.
Two wins in a row and two in three games this season takes the Eagles to lofty heights.
"Last year, we sort of played 60 minutes and took the result as it came. This year, we are playing a little more methodical when it comes to the big picture," said Milne. "We got ourselves up by four and then we were able to play a certain style in the third period. We call it 'hunkering down,' eliminating our defensive turnovers and limiting our offensive turnovers to make sure we seize the win."
The Eagles will look to improve on their home form next Friday, Sept. 21 when the Drumheller Dragons come to Canmore. Game time at the Rec Centre is 7 p.m.
Saints 1 at Eagles 4
Saturday, Sept. 15
1. Canmore: Hoekstra 4 (Wilson, A. Barnes) 10:42 PP
2. Canmore: Rassell 2 (Margeson, Simpson) 15:33
PENALTIES -- A. Barnes Can (hooking) 00:28; Nolte SG (high sticking) 9:26; Fostvelt (hooking) 12:55.
3. Canmore: Driscoll 1 (Rassell, McLeod) 6:33
4. Revie 1 (Rassell) 19:42
PENALTIES -- Spurrell SG (cross checking) 7:20; Warmington SG (hooking) 13:17; Moser Can (boarding) 15:36.
5. Spruce Grove: Nolte 2 (Borolotto) 8:01
PENALTIES -- None.
Shots on goal by:
Spruce Grove 9 8 15 - 32
Canmore 10 7 7 - 24
Goaltenders: Spruce Grove -- Sydora (1-1); Canmore -- C. Barnes (1-0)
Power Plays: Spruce Grove 0 for 2; Canmore 1 for 4.
Referee -- Reid Anderson; Linesmen -- Jason Nedinis, John Wiens.