Two teams riding five-game losing streaks met on Sunday evening, so something had to give — although neither was going to go quietly into the night.
It would be a Canmore Eagles defenceman proving to be the hero in a 6-5 win over the Olds Grizzlys in an Alberta Junior Hockey League game with wild swings.
Carter Coles’s second goal of the season, skating to the far post and deflecting in a right-side point shot at 6:04 of the third period, proved the game-winner.
That a defenceman would be up near the opposition goal seemed a given in this game as there was little defence played by both sides before 152 fans in the Olds Sportsplex.
Olds scored four goals in the first period and were countered by Canmore scoring four goals in the second period.
“We knew (Olds) would come hard … and we sat back and underestimated how hard they would come at us,” said Andrew Milne, Eagles GM and head coach. “Our guy responded after that with a good effort.”
However, when it came to the decisive third period, and with the game tied 5-5, the Eagles would get the lone goal to snap its five-game losing streak and extend the Grizzlys’ losses to six consecutive games.
Owen Guenter (7) scored twice in the first period with goals from Chase Fegueiras (1) and Cayden Kraus (4) as Olds built a 4-0 lead.
For Canmore, Alex Young (11) would score with 26 seconds left in the period to make it 4-1 at the end of the first period.
“That goal late by Alex Young really put us in a good spot, and we knew Olds has given up a lot of goals lately. If we could just maintain our game and play like the two nights before that we would be able to have success,” said Milne.
Canmore was playing its third game in as many days when it took on Olds.
“I just think it speaks volumes to the character we have in the locker-room right now,” added Milne. “Every excuse was there for them to roll over and die. We are down 4-1 after the first, it is our third game in three nights, we have a really depleted lineup … but (the players) stepped up.”
The Eagles would then roll off four consecutive goals in the second period to take a 5-4 lead by 10:20. Goals came from Max Giangualano (9), Daniel Fisher (4), Cameron Sterling in his junior A debut after being called up from the Calgary Buffaloes midget AAA for this game, and Jake Ashton (15).
For Olds, Dalton Ossman (4) would tie the game at 5-5 with five minutes remaining in the middle frame.
Olds outshot Canmore 36-23 with Thomas Davis (11-18, 3.81 GAA) in goal for the Eagles and Sam-Jaxon Visscher making his debut for the Grizzlys after being a trade-deadline acquisition from the Humboldt Broncos (Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League).
Canmore improved to 18-22-2 and leapfrogged the idle Calgary Canucks (18-23-1) into sixth place in the South Division. The two teams will meet Wednesday in Calgary (7 p.m., Max Bell Centre).
The win also puts the Eagles seven points up on eighth-place Olds (15-26-1).
EAGLES NEST: Canmore was 1-for-8 on the power play with Olds 1-for-4. … Sterling being in the lineup is a result of F Taden Rattie and F Trevor Van Steinburg both still being out with foot injuries. … Canmore’s first home game of 2018 is Friday, Jan. 19 when they host the Sherwood Park Crusaders (7 p.m., Canmore Recreation Centre).
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