The senior ‘AA’ Eckville Eagles were looking to avenge an 8-1 loss at home against the Daysland Northstars when they travelled north on December 17.
Despite the hopeful lead up to the game, Daysland would show why they have been top in class of the NCHL for years.
“They frustrate you in a lot of ways,” General Manager and defensemen Reed Watts said. “They are a tough team to play against because they have played together forever. They are very cohesive and limit our chances.”
The Northstars won on the individual effort of Colin Zimmer who notched a hat-trick, with two of the gals coming in the decisive third period.
“In the third period, we didn’t muster any great chances to change the game,” Watts said. “Stebs - Colin Stebner [Eagle’s goaltender] would like to have those two in the third back. It was already 2-0 and we couldn’t find a way to get it in the net.”
The Northstars are difficult to play against because they capitalize on mistakes, rather then continual offensive aggression.
“They are a counter attack team,” Watts said. “They didn’t overwhelm us with offensive pressure until we started making mistakes. We were doing our best not to give them 50 shots.”
The Northstars also do a stellar job of irritating the other team without picking up penalties of their own.
“In the second period, I got ejected,” Watts said. “Their captain found a way to get me out of the game. They antagonize us and convinced us to get off our game. We can’t give up power plays and we have to be smart and not get into chasing the game.”
The Eagles now sit firmly in the middle of the NCHL playoff chase in fifth place – seven points behind Bonnyville and four points up on Whitecourt.
“We haven’t beat a team above us in the standings - that seems to exemplify us,” Watts said. “We play a confident game against teams lower than us; teams higher than us - we play timid.”
The Eagles will get their chance to take out an opponent higher than them in the standings when they take on Bonnyville in a back-to-back showdown on January 7-8. Both games will be four point games as Bonnyville sits directly ahead of them in the standings. The Eagles then return home for their final game of the regular season against Edson.
“We will be itching to beat the ‘bejesus’ out of Edson,” Watts said. “We haven’t given the home crowd the best showing yet. We will hopefully have a great road trip in Bonnyville, finish against Edson - then playoffs.”
With all the rivalries in the NCHL, the Eagles hope to have a thrilling playoff opponent.