INNISFAIL – The Innisfail Eagles 2016-2017 season didn’t have the ending they were looking for.
After a well fought battle in game six Sunday night (Feb. 26) in Innisfail, the local Birds’ season and playoff run came to a close with a 5-3 defeat at the hands of their namesake rival Stony Plain Eagles.
The visiting Birds took the Chinook Hockey League semi-final series 4-2.
“It’s hockey. It’s going to go one way or the other and unfortunately we were on the other end of the stick tonight,” said Kevin Smyth, assistant coach of the Innisfail Eagles. “I thought the guys played hard and it was a good series.”
“It was a battle and we knew it was going to be a battle,” he added. “They got a good hockey team.”
Innisfail opened the scoring in Sunday’s game early in the first period with a goal from Kyle Dorowicz. Stony Plain tied the game at one late in the frame but Innisfail regained the lead two minutes later with a goal from forward Ty Clay.
The second period saw the local Birds expand their lead to two when forward Zach Franko found the back of the net unassisted, making it 3-1 for Innisfail.
The rest of the night’s scoring was all Stony Plain.
“We gave them all they could handle but we came up short,” said Zach Franko. “It is what it is and we got to give credit to our opponent Stony Plain. They battled back. They’re a good team and they have a lot of skill over there.”
“I feel for (the team) today but they’ll be back and hopefully they win it next year,” he added.
Stony Plain head coach Mike Tavaroli said they had a tough battle against Innisfail but remained focused.
“It’s a great win. We didn’t want to go to game seven,” said Tavaroli. “Innisfail is a tough team and they play a tough round of hockey. We knew that going in. Any Sutter-coached team is going to play that way and for us it was just a matter of matching that and I think we did,” he added.
Stony Plain Eagles captain Ryan Smyth noted the strong effort from both teams in the semi final series.
“We knew it was going to be tight. It’s been an up and down emotional series,” said Smyth. “We had a couple chances the last couple of times we were here in overtime.
“They play a hard fought battle game with a Sutter mentality; they never quit,” he added. “They got a lot of good players that grind it out.”
The challenging series helped ready his team for the finals against the Lacombe Generals, he noted.
“These types of series prepare you for the next one,” said Smyth. “In that locker room we believe. We know we’re up against a tough task with Lacombe. This sets the bar high for us and we give a lot of credit to Innisfail (for that).”
Kevin Smyth, assistant coach of the Innisfail Eagles
“It’s going to go one way or the other and unfortunately we were on the other end of the stick tonight. I thought the guys played hard and it was a good series.”