The final score and outcome did not reflect Innisfail’s enduring effort in the game or in the series, which the Birds lost four games to one.
“The guys were upset that we lost but we put our best foot forward and left it all on the ice,” said Ryan Dodd, assistant coach and general manager. “It was a hard fought game. All the way from the first puck drop right until the final buzzer.”
Dodd said the Birds played hard, outshot and dominated the Stony Plain Eagles, holding them to just two shots on goal in the second period and two shots in the third period.
“That shows you how phenomenal we played. They just capitalized on their opportunities and we didn’t,” he said.
Stony Plain took a 1-0 lead early in the first period and held onto it until the final four and a half minutes of the game, when they scored their second goal.
With the loss behind them, the Innisfail Eagles are already looking forward to next season.
Dodd noted the Eagles’ youth and their strong efforts this season as the youngest team in the league.
“They got some hard-nosed playoff experience,” said Dodd, adding they excelled under the guidance of head coach Brian Sutter. “Those young guys got an experience out of this series. We keep them coming back and our team is just going to continue to grow and get better.”
Several of those young players, including goaltender Kraymer Barnstable, have already committed to the team for next season.
“Kraymer Barnstable has already said he wants to come back to play next season,” said Dodd, adding he will join several returning players and head coach Brian Sutter.
“I think (Brian) would like to spend some time with his grandkids but he’s committed for next year already,” said Dodd. “We talked about it on the bus last night (Saturday) and he has committed for next year.”
Sutter just finished his fifth season with the team and will be behind the bench for the Innisfail Eagles for a sixth consecutive year.
“When he says he commits, he’s one hundred per cent all in,” said Dodd.
He also noted a reason for the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding the Innisfail Eagles next season.
“With the Allan Cup in Lacombe next year, there’s going to be a lot of interest in senior hockey in Alberta.”
Ryan Dodd, general manager
“It was a hard fought game. All the way from the first puck drop right until the final buzzer.”