Eagles stumble in opener 0
The Canmore Eagles stepped into the Alberta Junior Hockey League regular season and fell flat on their beaks.
Opening the season in Olds on Friday, Sept. 8, the Eagles were mauled 5-2 by the Grizzlys despite a two-goal performance from 19-year-old Connor Hoekstra. Rookie Connor Wilson assisted on both goals. Jordan Revie, also playing his first game as an Eagle, registered an assist on Hoekstra's second goal.
Olds scoring came from five players: Bart Moran, Brandon Clowes, Landon Viveiros, Taylor Bilk and Blair Oneshuk.
"I thought we made some mistakes, and it seems that when we make mistakes it costs us," said GM/head coach Andrew Milne.
"I thought we gave them a lot of their offence (Saturday)."
The game began ominously for the Eagles. It took just 63 seconds for the first grimace. Rookie Alex Bechtold - he appeared in three games last season - was cross checked into the boards by Olds' Chris Stachiw and suffered a broken ankle.
Stachiw was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct on the play, while Bechtold was rewarded with a visit to hospital and the prognosis he will be out of the lineup for an extended period of time.
"It was unfortunate for us, because Alex is a big part of what we are trying to build here," said Milne. "It looks like it is four to six weeks for a broken ankle on very, very . questionable decision making by their defenceman."
The Eagles were unable to cash in on the resulting power play and would be down 1-0 by the end of the period after Moran scored his third goal in two games. The Grizzlys' veteran opened his goal-scoring account Friday night by depositing two pucks in the Spruce Grove Saints' net during a 5-4 loss.
In the second period of Saturday's game, Olds scored three times, including a shorthanded goal by Clowes. Hoeskstra's first of the game reduced the deficit to 2-1, but before the period ended Viveiros and Bilyk made it a 4-1 lead.
During the second period, the Eagles looked as unsettled as the road uniforms they wore in which only the veterans had their names on the back of their sweaters as a result of a delay in uniform shipments. The visitors not only gave up a shorthanded goal, but took several pointless penalties - including a check from behind and game misconduct to rookie defenceman Ashton McLeod - had a pair of blown scoring chances -Hoekstra and Rassell both had open nets and pushed the puck wide - and then to complete a period of miscues, Bilyk kept a weak clearing attempt in at the line and then threaded a shot from the point through a screen past Eagles netminder Ty Swabb with less than a second to play in the period.
The Eagles' goal, a nifty wrister into the top of net after a lengthy dash down left wing by Hoekstra, came at 12:57 of the period and was the team's first shot of that middle stanza."
Still for all that, the Eagles were not out of this game. Hoekstra's second of the night, a power play marker at 2:27 of the third period, kept the team in the contest until Oneshuk took advantage of another Eagles' breakdown at their blue line and went in uncontested on Swabb, beating him with a backhander up high with 66 seconds remaining to make sure Saturday's end result was no longer in doubt.
Milne though didn't want to put too much pressure on the defensive miscues, but rather focused his attention on his charges inability to create scoring chances. Olds outshot Canmore 40-25.
"I didn't think we competed hard enough to get to the front of the net (Saturday)," noted Milne. "I thought their group got to the net and made life uncomfortable for Swabbie and I thought we made things easy for their back end and their goaltender (Brandon Thiessen) especially."
With the Eagles next game not until Friday, Sept. 14 against the Whitecourt Wolverines, Milne will stress the need to work harder in the opposition's end during a week of practices.
"We are going to have to work all week on finding ways to get to the front of the net," he said. "It's pretty simple in this league, in that if you want to score goals you have to go to the front of the net."
Friday's game against Whitecourt is also the home opener for the Eagles, with game time 7 p.m. at the Canmore Recreation Centre.
EAGLES NEST: Hoekstra twice had two-goal games last season and they came in successive contests: Oct. 12 versus the Brooks Bandits and Oct. 18 versus the Calgary Canucks. He finished last season with 17 goals. . Goaltender Cam Barnes was returned to the Eagles by the Kelowna Rockets (WHL) on Friday. The 18-year-old was the backup Saturday night. James Fisk was returned to his midget team in Strathmore to make room for Barnes. ... Riley Point was named the Eagles' captain on Saturday, with the assistant captains logos going to Alex Barnes, Ciaron Driscoll and Nils Moser. ... The Eagles had six rookies in the lineup Saturday. Also making their rookie debuts were Ryley Risling and Kyle Pauls. ... Four veterans did not dress due to injury concerns: Paul Lamoureux (knee), Jeremy Margeson (knee), Jeremy Gordon (ankle) and Simon Philp (hip). . Camrose Kodiaks lead the South Division after two opening weekend wins while the defending champion Brooks Bandits don't begin their season until Friday at home to Olds. . The Eagles also host the Spruce Grove Saints on Saturday, Sept. 15 also at the Canmore Recreation Centre at 7 p.m.
Eagles 2 at Grizzlys 5
1. Olds - Moran 3 (Hubbs, Owsley) 13:51
PENALTIES - Olds Grizzlys at 1:03 - Stachiw, Olds (cross checking major, game misconduct) 1:03: Music Can (high sticking) 6:50; Hanger Olds (tripping) 8:38; Phee Can (tripping) 19:54.
2. Olds - Clowes 1 (Dunkle, Bilyk) 4:53 SH
3. Canmore - Hoekstra 1 (Wilson) 12:57
4. Olds - Viveiros 1 (Owsley, Dorowicz) 16:26
5. Olds - Bilyk 1 19:59
PENALTIES - Hanger Olds (blow to the head, 10-min. misconduct) 4:29; McLeod Can (check from behind, game misconduct) 7:14; Barnes Can (roughing) 13:39; Hubbs Olds (high sticking) 13:39; Driscoll Can (high sticking) 13:59.
6. Canmore - Hoekstra (2) 2 (Wilson, Revie) 2:29 PP
7. Olds - Oneschuk 1 18:54
PENALTIES - Grundy Olds (kneeing) 1:37
SHOTS ON GOAL BY:
Canmore 8 6 11 - 25
Olds 12 14 14 - 40
Goaltender: Can - Swabb; Olds - Thiessen.
POWER PLAYS: Canmore 1 for 5; Olds 0 for 5.