The Eagles have shaken off some old hangups and put themselves in a position to move on to the second round of the NCHL playoffs after winning two convincing games against the Devon Oil Barons over the weekend.
The Eagles began their weekend with a 4-0 throttling of Devon on the opposing team’s home ice Saturday, before returning home on Sunday evening for a competitive 5-3 win on Eagle’s ice.
Owner, General Manager and defenceman for the Eagles, Reed Watts was pleased his squad could reach one of their goals.
“We had a goal to come out with two wins,” he said. “Points don’t matter now it’s all about the wins. We really wanted to make a statement and we wanted to control our destiny – we accomplished that.”
The two games was typical playoff hockey with the intensity boiling over at multiple points throughout the weekend. Watts was pleased the Eagles were able to keep their composure and come up with the 2-0 lead in the five game series.
“We weren’t as sharp Sunday as we were Saturday but two wins is two wins and now we are on the brink of moving on,” he said. “The intensity was there. Devon knew that going down 2-0 means that they would go out with one more loss so they played their tails off. At 2-0, we now have three chances to move on.”
The win at home was particularly a reward for the Eagles, after struggling at times throughout the season on home ice.
“I was disappointed with some of the games we had at home,” he said. “Our team wasn’t a team yet. We were just a group of guys that hadn’t got their ducks in a row. To the fans that came out, I hope they enjoyed it because we sure enjoyed in on the bench.”
Attendance at the Eckville Arena was the most the Eagles have had all season and many fans were actively following the game and posting to social media.
“I had a feeling playoffs would ramp up the attendance,” Watts said. “The higher the pressure – the more people want to get involved and I was thrilled to see the amount of people do that and to see them engaged. That’s great to see and it helps us carve out our little place in the world.”
Watts feels confident moving into a possibly decisive game in Devon on Friday.
“To do it in three would be great,” he said. “You can take pride and start realizing that we aren’t that .500 team. We are a team with momentum and the guys want this. Everyone wants to win this badly and they don’t want to drag this out.”
Watts added they don’t want to give a quality team like Devon any hope.
“If you give Devon one win, that can be light in the playoffs,” he said. “One win would mean an extended series and a possible first round loss.”
Watts credits the Eagles newly found depth with the key to success.
“Our lineup is very deep,” he said. “The fact that we can roll three or fours lines comfortably is great. We aren’t worried on the bench that a line will go out and get scored on. We have four lines that can contribute and make our lives a million times easier.”
Watts is hoping the Eagles will dispatch the Oil Barons in three games, however he suggests fans follow the team’s Facebook and Twitter accounts to find out whether there will be a fourth game in Eckville on February 3 at 8 p.m.
Watts added “We are loving our new home in Eckville and we hope this season keeps chugging all the way into March.”