CANMORE – The Canmore Eagles are preparing for a home-and-away campaign against the nations top junior A club, the Brooks Bandits.
The teams will kick things off in the prairies on Saturday evening (Feb. 1), and then renew acquaintances on Tuesday (Feb. 4) in Canmore.
“The good news is we have a full week to prepare for six periods against Brooks,” said Eagles assistant coach Evan McFeeters.
“It started with rest and recovery and now its moved on to solidifying our defensive hockey. We understand Brooks is going to have the puck a lot … at the end of the day we will have to keep them down to three or less goals to win a hockey game.”
Those banged up, in need of rest and recovery, include three blue liners Drae Gardiner, Cameron Chin, Zach Cunningham and centre Lane Paddison.
Head coach Andrew Milne said the health of his players is one of his top priorities as the regular season approaches its last month.
“We are going to use the month to make sure we are physically ready. Our health is something we will definitely have to keep an eye on, we don’t want it to get worse, especially looking forward to the playoffs,” Milne said.
In four previous meetings this season, the Bandits have shown a high level of skill, outscoring Canmore 28-9.
“On the positive side their record this month as been a little off and that’s an opportunity for us to be successful,” said Milne.
In order for the Eagles to have success, the team will have to rely on its newly found secondary scoring. In the Eagles last game against Calgary on Jan. 25, eight different players scored in the 9-1 win.
“Seeing eight goal scorers is huge. Now those eight guys are going to be playing with confidence. They will feel good about themselves and take more risks to score goals, which should help generate some more offence,” said McFeeters.
The Eagles goaltending will be under a microscope during the next two games. Currently Kadin Kilpatrick and Devin Chapman hold nearly identical records. They have both earned eight wins and one shutout.
Chapman has a 3.84 GAA and .887 save percentage compared to Kilpatrick’s 4.16 GAA and .876 save percentage.
McFeeters said the goaltending spot is up for grabs and he is not concerned there is a battle for the top spot so late in the season.
“We want them to push each other in practice and to play. Eventually we want one of those players to take control of the crease as someone we can make a run with.”