The Innisfail Eagles and the Rosetown Red Wings are moving on to the 2019 Allan Cup semifinals.
The Red Wings topped the South East Prairie Thunder 4-2, while the Eagles secured their first win of the tournament by downing the Haut-Madawaska Panthers 5-1 in quarter-final action at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex in Lacombe, Alta. Thursday night.
Two of their goals were scored on the power play, which Eagles Head Coach Brian Sutter said was the difference.
“We talked before the game – We played really well the first two games and we didn’t get rewarded and we didn’t score on the power play,” he said.
“We went over some things and when you talk about winning or doing anything well in life, you can’t say you’re just going to do it….It doesn’t just happen. You’ve got to earn your breaks.”
And the Eagles did.
Innisfail was the stronger team right from puck drop, controlling the play and forcing Panthers turnovers with their characteristic physical brand.
Their best chance came early, just five minutes in when they got away on a breakaway and Panther goaltender Adrien Lemay had to come out to the circle to stop him. Fortunately for the Eagles, they’d have other opportunities, including a slapper from the top of the circle that was tipped by Darren Reid midway through the opening frame to open the scoring, and they led 1-0 after the first.
Just past the halfway point of the second, Andrew Randazzo beat Eagles goaltender Kraymer Barnstable on a cross-ice pass and the Panthers tied the game.
The tie, however, wouldn’t last long.
A blueline shot through traffic from Joe Vandermeer was tipped in front by Reid for his second of the game with under five minutes left to play in the second. Caylan Walls would knock a third puck past the Panthers goaltender in what was a scrambly play in front of the net to take a 3-1 lead into the final period.
Braden Crone would add an extra insurance goal at with just under six minutes to play. Justin Cox would seal the game a minute later with an empty netter.
“We knew we had to come out hard tonight. We had to come out physical,” said Reid, who had two goals on the night. “We knew we had to play physical to wear them down and eventually, it will slow them down.
“In the last 5-10 minutes, you could see they just lost their momentum.”
The Eagles will now face the reigning Allan Cup champions in the Stoney Creek Generals in what will be a rematch of their earlier round robin game.
Reid said they just have to keep playing the same way they did tonight.
“We’ve got to come out with a physical aspect, take the pucks to the net and drive the net,” he said.
“When we played them the other day, we didn’t drive the net and some pucks came out that we could’ve tapped in and it could’ve been a different game. We played hard, we outshot them.”
Earlier in the day, the Rosetown Red Wings doubled up on the South East Prairie Thunder 4-2 to advance to the semifinals.
The South East Prairie Thunder – and goaltender Steve Christie – had defeated the Lacombe Generals in the round robin on Monday 4-2, but they wouldn’t be able to best the Red Wings in the quarterfinals
Jordan Johnston opened the scoring for Rosetown midway through the first. In the second, Jared Jagow and Kyle Ireland would score within a six-minute span to go up 3-0, before the Prairie Thunder’s Devon LeBlanc would capitalize on the power play to come within two.
In the third, however, Zachery Zadorozniak would get the goal back for the Red wings. Ian Lowe would add another power play goal just past the midway mark, but they would never get any closer to tying the game up.
Nikolas Amundrud made 39 saves for the Red Wings in the win, while Christie had 23 saves.
The Eagles will play the Stoney Creek Generals on Friday at 4 p.m., while the Rosetown Red Wings will take on their fellow Allan Cup Hockey West team in the host Lacombe Generals in the semifinals at 8 p.m.
Now, the Eagles will face the Stoney Creek Generals, while the Rosetown Red Wings will face a familiar Allan Cup Hockey West team in the host Lacombe Generals in the semifinals Friday. Puck drop is 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively.
More pictures to come.