CANMORE – The Canmore Eagles landed highly-touted free agent Andreai Proctor-Ramirez, the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League’s (AMHL) top goalie last season, which sets up an intriguing three-way “battle for the net” for the team in the coming months.
Despite the sports world slowing to a crawl due to the COVID-19 crisis, the local AJHL club’s head coach and general manager Andrew Milne has been busy inking deals with five prospects over the past few weeks.
The Eagles boosted its forward positions with Jace Benvie, Kayden Smith and Isaac Suppin, and after a tip off about defenceman Parks Wallace, a Nashville, Tennessee native who wanted to test his skills in Canada, the Eagles called up the six-foot-one lefty to play in Canmore.
“Those guys that we signed were all guys throughout the course of the season we thought would fit into the makeup of the hockey club,” Milne said.
“When you got a goaltender of [Proctor-Ramirez’s] calibre and his development path, you have to jump on that.”
Last season, Eagles goalies Devin Chapman and Kadin Kilpatrick turned in disappointing seasons, combining for 20 wins, and their performances were referred to as a “Jekyll and Hyde” situation with hot and cold spells.
With the AMHL’s top goalie inserted into the mix, it signals that with three goalies and only two spots available, someone will have to go.
“There’s definitely going to be a battle there for the net and that’s exactly what we wanted,” Milne said.
“I think [Proctor-Ramirez] is definitely gong to compete for [top spot], he’ll have to earn it. What we don’t want to do is put the pressure on him, he’s still an 18-year-old, first-year player and that’s not an easy position to fill as a rookie. So we got good experience with Chapman and Kilpatrick, and Proctor-Ramirez will be here at the end of the day; it’s just a case of how that dynamic works out amongst the other two.”
Proctor-Ramirez led the AMHL in wins (15-1-3 record), goals against average (1.25), save percentage (.950) and shutouts (5). During the playoffs, his .936 save percentage helped to lead the St. Albert Raiders to the league final before the season was cancelled.
Having played for the Eagles, Spruce Grove Saints, and Lloydminster Bobcats in call-up scenarios, Proctor-Ramirez is ready to make the leap full-time to junior A and “work his ass off” to stay there.
“Personally, I want to get the starting job, for sure, and I guess as a team, [I want] to win 75-80 per cent of my starts is probably my goal. I had the same goal this past season and it worked out for me,” Proctor-Ramirez said.
The Eagles lost some offensive firepower with the departure of captain Connor Lyons and star forward Alex Young, who's projected to be drafted to an NHL team this year.
Filling the gaps are new forwards Benvie, 17, and Smith, 18, who both played for the U18 Calgary Flames of the AMHL and have seen Junior A action with the Eagles. Benvie ranked ninth in the AMHL in scoring last season with 11 goals and 36 points in 31 games, and Smith had six goals and 16 points in 24 games with the club.
The Eagles have also brought in forward Suppin, 17, from Pursuit of Excellence of the CSSHL with experience in the BCHL. Last season, Suppin had 27 goals and 51 points in 33 games.
The last of the recent signings is defenceman Wallace, 17, who had four goals and four helpers last season with the Nashville Jr. Predators of the U18 Tier One Elite Hockey League.