AJHL wraps up exhibition schedule with Calgary Canucks 5-4 shootout win over Canmore Eagles
By George Potter, Contributor
On Nov. 7 at Max Bell Arena, the Calgary Canucks faced off against the Canmore Eagles in a tight battle. The two-game series between the Canucks and Eagles continued the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s (AJHL) pre-season schedule. The league announced on Oct. 29 that the regular season would commence on Nov. 13 with teams playing within a divisional format.
The Canucks held the lead for most of the game but they faced an Eagles team who kept fighting back. After losing the lead in regulation, Canucks defenseman Jason Chu was able to send Canucks fans home happy by scoring the winning goal in a shootout.
Both teams had new additions for the game, as the WHL announced that players were loaned over to Junior A, Junior B, and Under-18 levels until the WHL season starts on Jan. 8, 2021. The Canucks were able to pick up forward Chase Wheatcroft from the Lethbridge Hurricanes, while the Eagles were able to add Wheatcroft’s teammate and Detroit Red Wings prospect, defenseman Alex Cotton.
The Canucks came into their series with the Eagles after splitting a two-game set with the Drumheller Dragons with one win and one loss. In the final exhibition series before the regular season, the Eagles were able to take a big 5-2 win in the first game on their home ice. Luckily for the Canucks, they returned to their home-ice advantage for the second game.
From the moment the puck dropped, the action was intense with both sides attacking the enemy zone. The Canucks claimed the first goal, as forward Matt Cobert was assisted by defenseman Colin McPhearson and forward Cristiano Aielo. However, minutes after their goal to open the game, Eagles forward Michael Spafford capitalized on a mistake by the Canucks and scored on a breakaway making the game 1-1. The Canucks would respond later to retake the lead with a goal from forward Carter Beniot who was assisted by defenseman Riley Bodnarchuk.
In the second period, both teams had opportunities to attack. Despite a few chances on both sides, neither team was able to score. Tempers started to flare with a mass brawl when the buzzer sounded to end the second period. As a result of the brawl, Eagles Defenseman Drae Gardiner got a ten-minute game misconduct — two minutes for roughing and two for checking from behind.
In the third period, the Canucks extended their lead as forward Cobert scored his second goal of the night and was assisted by Wheatcroft and forward Brett Moravec. Two minutes later, the Eagles would answer back while on the powerplay. Forward Lane Paddison cut into the Canucks lead with a goal assisted by forward Zach Carlson and Cotton making the game 3-2.
In the high-scoring last period, the Canucks would respond to put their lead back to two. Dylan Clark found the back of the net and was assisted by Bodnarchuk and Aielo. After another Canucks penalty, the Eagles were able to put themselves right back into the game. The powerplay tally from Carlson was assisted by Cotton and Paddison. Cotton and Paddison both picked up another assist less than 30 seconds later, as the Eagles tied the game at four on an Ethan Schaeffer goal.
The game would go into overtime tied at four. Despite both teams picking up penalties, nothing was settled in the extra frame, sending the game into a shootout.
Both teams’ goalies stood on their heads during the intense shootout. Both teams sent four shooters each to centre ice. For the Canucks, Corbet, Moravec and Wheatcroft were unable to get their attempts past Eagles’ netminder Devin Chapman. While going the other way, Eagles’ shooters Paddison, Schaeffer and Cotton couldn’t score on Canucks’ goalie Adam Dmyterko. Chu was the fourth shooter for the Canucks and was able to put the only goal of the shootout past Chapman. Carlson ended up being the last chance for the Eagles to tie the shootout but was stopped by Dmyterko to secure a 5-4 win for the Canucks.