A decision off the ice has proved to be the Canmore Eagles biggest boon this week.
The Drumheller Dragons were forced to give back what they had won from the Canmore Eagles last Friday — and in the process may have assured a first-round playoff matchup when the Alberta Junior Hockey League begins its post-season tournament next week.
While the first-overall Brooks Bandits were handing the South Division’s fifth-place Eagles a 4-0 defeat in Canmore on Tuesday night, it was decisions involving the fourth-place Dragons elsewhere that proved most benefical for Canmore’s junior A squad.
First the Dragons helped the Eagles by defeating the Olds Grizzlys 3-2 in overtime. Then Wednesday morning the official word came that Drumheller would forfeit its 5-3 win over Canmore on Feb. 22. The reason was for using an illegal player – in this case it was goaltender John Houge, who was not entered in the Hockey Canada Registry.
“The points they won from us, revert to us,” Milne said in addressing the incident, adding he had never seen such a scenario at this level of hockey.
In addition, Drumheller was fined $500 and head coach Brian Curran was suspended for three games — which will include the first game of the playoffs.
The result — which still had not been reflected in the AJHL website and its standings as of Wednesday afternoon — gives the Eagles 23 wins, 30 losses and six overtime/ shootout defeats for 52 points. It keeps the Eagles in fifth place in the South Division, two points up on Olds (22-31-6).
The Grizzlys appeared to have taken over fifth spot when they earned a single point in their Tuesday loss. If Olds and Canmore finish equal on points this season, the Grizzlys hold the tiebreaker. That scenario could still happen when each team plays its final game on Friday, but Olds now needs a home victory over the Calgary Mustangs while the Calgary Canucks need to defeat the Eagles in regulation time (7 p.m. at the Canmore Recreation Centre).
Any other scenario has the Eagles finishing fifth and play the fourth-place Dragons (29-26-4) in the first-round, best-of-five that begins Wednesday, March 6.
As for the Eagles’ Tuesday game against Brooks, the Bandits scored two goals in each of the first two periods to set a new AJHL record of 53 wins during a regular season.
Dakota Mason scored twice, with singles from Taylor Makin and Alex Roberts. Devon Fordyce recorded his first AJHL shutout in stopping all 20 Canmore shots.
The Eagles rested six players — out for various injuries — and brought up three affiliate players for the contest while hometown-product Simon Philp returned to the lineup for just his 14th game this season after missing the previous six contests. Goaltenders Cam Barnes and Ty Swabb shared the duties, each allowing two goals.
Milne said he expects to dress a full complement of junior A players when the team takes on the Canucks on Friday.
By Russ Ullyot, Canmore Leader