The 2016-2017 regular season kicked off for four of the five member teams on Saturday night. The Lacombe Generals made the trek to Rosetown, Saskatchewan to face the Red Wings who are the newest member club in the league and your hometown Stony Plain Eagles played host to last year’s first round playoff opponent, the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs.
Our opening night roster was set, and included 16 players returning from last season’s club that was within three wins of a trip to the Allan Cup. New players in the opening night lineup were defencemen Spencer McAvoy and Jason Lundmark, along with centre man Ryley Bennefield and goalie Courtney Lane.
A late addition to the roster was Parkland County product Spencer Galbraith, who was released late Thursday night from the Colorado Eagles in the East Coast Hockey League. Spencer was praised for his performance at camp, but became a victim of the numbers game when it came to contracts. While at camp Spencer assisted on an overtime game winner, recorded 8 shots on goal in two games, and also won the Eagles hardest shot competition at their Skills Competition. We are extremely happy and proud to see how Spencer was able to perform at camp and are happy to have him back in our blue and gold.
It didn’t take long for the Eagles to get the season going in a positive direction as last season’s League Leading Scorer Bryce Williamson notched his first of many this season, as he converted on the power play just 5 minutes into the first period of the season. Smyth and Yaremchuk picked up their first points of the season after recording the assists on the Williamson marker. Just 18 seconds later, Tanner House hit the scoresheet to put the Eagles up 2-0 just 5:23 into the game. Assists on the House goal went to Kosolofsky and Billsten. Before the period was up, Curtis Billsten scored an absolutely beauty as he outwaited the Chiefs goalie and tucked the puck into the open net. Gallimore added his first assist of the season on the Billsten goal. One period into the season and the Eagles were flying with a 3-0 lead and looked to keep the momentum going for the next 40 minutes.
The Eagles top offensive guns struck again early in the second as Nik Yaremchuk found a rebound on the goal line and flipped it into the net past the sprawling Chiefs goalie to stretch the lead to 4-0 just 1:02 into the second period. Chorneyko and Williamson added the assists on the Yaremchuk goal. As the period progressed the Chiefs were able to hold the Eagles off the score sheet and were able to add their own marker to shrink the lead to three before the end of the second period.
The Eagle lead was again stretched to four goals as Adam Chorneyko connected on an unbelievable power play set up 3:09 into the third period. He caught a cross ice feed and ripped a bomb high glove side past the Chiefs netminder. Williamson collected his 3rd point of the game with an assist on the Chorneyko goal, with Spencer Galbraith recording his first point of the season. Both teams went at each other physically in the third and resulted in a total of 40 minutes in penalties between the two. With 6:34 remaining in the game, the Chiefs managed to get the game to a 5-2 score, but ran out of time to get even. The final horn sounded and the hometown Eagles skated to a 5-2 victory in the home opener.
Next week we travel to Innisfail on Friday night for their home opener, and then host those same Eagles back at the Glenn Hall Arena on Saturday night at 7:30 pm. Be sure you get out to the arena and catch some high flying and physical hockey for the whole family!