CANMORE – As sticks and gloves were tossed to the ice, the U15 Canmore Eagles celebrated as provincial champions.
The Eagles beat the Springbank Rockies, 6-4, in the 2022 Tier 1 Hockey Alberta championship game on Sunday (March 27) in a hard-fought showdown at the Canmore Recreation Centre.
"I think all the players here will remember that for the rest of their lives," said Eagles coach Reid Solodan. "It's something that's very hard to get to and they did it."
Eagles Austin Gammon scored twice and had three points, Leo Johnson scored and had two helpers, Raine Kapitza had a goal and assist, and Owen Anderson and Zaagaa Soler each scored in the victory.
Yuri Tajima added two helpers, and with an assist each were Emmet Long, Easton Milne, and Joshua Brousseau.
Goalie Kai Rauhaus made 29 saves in the victory.
"I was thinking, no way we came from a Tier 2 team up into [becoming] provincial champions in Tier 1," said forward Noah Kimbley-Nicolai.
After knocking off the KC Sabres, 5-3, in the semifinals earlier Sunday, the final showdown and rematch was set with Springbank, which defeated 3C's Coyotes in the other semi.
The Eagles scored two power play goals in the first period courtesy of Kapitza and Gammon to take a 2-0 lead at the first break.
In the second, at 3-0, the Eagles had the man advantage again and was primed to deliver a fatal blow to the Rockies. However, a misjudged moment behind the Eagles net led to a giveaway out front and a shorthanded goal for the Rockies.
The Eagles responded with two quick goals from Anderson and Johnson to snag a four-goal lead. But the persistent Rockies weren't going away quietly, and made it a 5-2 game at the second intermission.
Up three in the third, the tide changed quickly as the Rockies came roaring out of the gates and scored twice and cut the lead down to one.
The Eagles bent, but didn't break in the third and maintained the one-goal lead until Soler put things on ice with a nail-in-the-coffin goal at just over two minutes on the clock.
"I was just super happy to do it with my friends," said Soler.
For more, please see the Thursday (March 31) edition of the Outlook.