Eagles battle but drop third straight game

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INNISFAIL – After a strong start in the first half of the season the Innisfail Eagles have lost several recent battles.

That includes dropping three games in five nights last week.

With two losses on the road, including a 9-1 thrashing from the Lacombe Generals Wednesday (Dec. 13) and a close 6-5 decision to Fort Saskatchewan on Saturday (Dec. 16), the Birds, currently in fourth place in the five-team Allan Cup Hockey West league, were hoping for a different outcome Sunday (Dec. 17) at home.

The Innisfail Eagles lost the contest 6 – 3 to the Lacombe Generals, but it was a much closer game than the final score.

“It was the same thing last night; we’re like that every night. It’s a one-shot game,” said Brian Sutter, head coach. “Sometimes you get calls against you, like we did tonight,” he added, referring to a goal that was called back late in the second period.

“But you got to work your way through things like that.”

Sutter remains positive despite the loss.

“We got to stay together. You don’t point fingers and look round the room and you don’t hang your head and say (poor) me,” he said. “January is coming and it’s the fun time of the year.”

Tom Mikrut got the Birds on the board early in the first period and despite taking a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes, the Eagles were not able to keep the Generals at bay.

Lacombe took a 4-3 lead late in the second frame, and added to that with another marker late in the third period and an empty-netter that sealed the 6-3 victory. Greg Moore and Peter Vandermeer also scored for Innisfail Sunday.

Despite the loss, Mikrut said there are positives to take from the game and the first half of the season. One of them was the team’s effort in shutting down the Generals’ two-man advantage late in the game.

“The (five-on-three) penalty kill was huge. We just got to learn how to take something like that and turn it into a positive,” said Mikrut. “We have to learn from those kind of situations and go forward.”

The Eagles want to use a busy home schedule in January to their benefit, he added.

“We have five home games (in January) so we got to really use home ice to our advantage and treat every game like a playoff game, because once January is over it’s playoffs, so you got to have that playoff mentality,” he said.

Birds forward Greg Moore said they will learn from the loss and move forward.

“We had three games in five nights, but it’s not an excuse at all,” said Moore.

“We just got to forget it, learn from our losses and from our mistakes and bring it in the next game.

“We got to stay positive. We’ve done a lot of good things in the first half,” he added. “We just need to bring it all together and keep our heads up.”

The Innisfail Eagles’ next home game is Jan. 5 against the Stony Plain Eagles. Puck drop is 8:30 p.m.

Brian Sutter, head coach

“We got to stay together. You don’t point fingers and look round the room and you don’t hang your head and say (poor) me.”

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Kristine Jean

Kristine Jean is a reporter with the Innisfail Province, joining the newspaper in 2013. She covers Penhold municipal politics, news and community events as well as sports in and around the town as well as in Innisfail.