CANMORE – Captain Lane Paddison thinks the Canmore Eagles has to put in work on its special teams – for good reason.
The Eagles (2-2-0) dropped back-to-back games last weekend to the Okotoks Oilers, 7-4, and the Blackfalds Bulldogs, 3-1, after starting the season with wins over the Olds Grizzlys and Calgary Canucks.
Special teams hurt the Junior A club in both losses, as the team looks to break out of its funk heading into AJHL Showcase this weekend (Oct. 2-3) in Brooks.
"I think we should be 4-0 right now," said Paddison. "We had some undisciplined play [and] it really cost us the game in Okotoks, which is super unfortunate, but we're only four games in and there's lots to learn here. If we can put together a full 60 [minutes] then I think we'll be a team in this league.
"We want to be a top team in this division and I think we can do that with the team we have this year."
An area Paddison pointed out that needs improving are the team's sluggish special teams – the power play and penalty kill.
In two losses, the Eagles power play went two-for-13 at a 15 per cent success rate, and over four games, the team is tied for eighth in the league at 20 per cent.
At 50 per cent, the Eagles' penalty kill is a glaring low-point on stat sheets as the league's worst percentage early on. With seven goals against, the Eagles PK has allowed the most goals as well.
"Our special teams, both PK and power play, we need to be better on that," said Paddison. "That's really what wins and loses games there, so that's definitely one thing we need to work on."
Assistant coach Kyle McLaughlin added over the next few weeks, he thinks the special teams will get back on track.
"I think every team in the league can say they can work a little more on their power play and I think that's us included," said McLaughlin. "We've got lots of great pieces on our team and we're just trying to make sure we're all in sync and doing the right things to support each other."
On Sunday (Sept. 26) at the Canmore rec centre, the Eagles fell to the AJHL's newest team, the Bulldogs, in the two team's first ever game against each other.
Eagles' forward Carter Myrol scored the team's lone goal and goalie Andreai Proctor-Ramirez made 35 saves and dropped to 2-2 in net this season.
After the game, McLaughlin said the club needs to get back to focusing on the simple things.
"Having a great effort and we talked about consistency before the game and the importance of controlling how consistent we are based on our attitude and our efforts; we're just going to bring things that are a little bit to that," he said.
"We did have chances in our last two losses to put games away so we're going to focus a bit more on our finish and try to execute as well as we can when we have the opportunity."
Late last week, the Eagles announced multiple moves to its roster and sent two out of town and brought two players.
The Eagles acquired forward Vincent Scott, an 18-year-old from Edmonton, who played the previous three seasons with the Sherwood Park Crusaders, and goalie Matthew Malin, 18, a native of San Francisco, who last season played in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League for the Northern Alberta Xtreme.
In Scott's first game with the club, the speedy forward was awarded the home star player of the game.
"Vinny is a heck of a player," said McLaughlin. "Excellent speed, he works really hard. He's a guy who brings energy to our team and he's very coachable, so an ideal player for our team.
"Matthew, our new goalie, young fella, he's being practising excellent. Another energy type of guy on our team and it's been great with both of them. I think they are going to have a great future with our team and I look forward to seeing them play even more."
Forward Tye Carriere, 20, was shipped to the Bulldogs and the Eagles continue to try to find a new home for goalie Devin Chapman, 20, who requested a trade last week, as the Eagles whittled down its 2001 born players to the maximum of six.
"I think it's a really special group we have and I'm honoured to be able to help them out in this process," said McLaughlin.Up next for the Eagles, the team is on a three-game road swing starting at the AJHL Showcase this Saturday and Sunday against the Drayton Valley Thunder and Whitecourt Wolverines. On Wednesday (Oct. 6), the club faces off against the CJHL's No. 3 ranked team, the Brooks Bandits. Then the Eagles return home Saturday (Oct. 9) to face the Bulldogs for a second tilt this season. The puck drop is 7 p.m.