The Eckville Eagles tasted defeat for the first time in their inaugural season.
Continuing their three-game road trip to start the season, the NCHL’s newest team travelled to Morinville to face one of their rivals. Coming off two decisive wins, the Eagles felt confident going in and the team and quickly got off to 1-0 lead, according to owner/player Reed Watts.
“We got up 1-0 after the first period and thought we had it in the bag,” Watts said. “At the start of the second we eased off the gas and they got four in on us. We got one back late but then we gave up an empty netter.”
The final score of the game was 2-5 Morinville, as the Eagles were left looking for silver linings.
“It’s a tough one but it’s a good one to learn,” Watts said. “It helps us know how to be better – we need to have responsibility with the puck and get it deep. The best defense is played below their goal line. We don’t want to give up odd man rushes and that’s exactly what we did.”
The Eagles will take these lessons into their first home game versus Devon at the Eckville Arena on Saturday, October 15 at 8:30 p.m.
“We are excited to finally come home,” Watts said. “Some of the guys haven’t seen the Eckville rink yet and as an Eckville native – I am beyond excited to come home and play in the barn I grew up playing in.”
He added that he “can hardly put into words how excited we are to play in front of some new fans.”
Devon will be another test, as Devon and Eckville make up 50 per cent of teams in the NCHL that have 2 wins – with Eckville also having a loss. Watts sees his team climbing the ranks as his team gets more acclimated with each other and plays more home games.
“I see us as one of the Top 3 teams with Bonnyville and Daysland – not to discredit anyone else,” he said, adding that Devon is also a threat despite having a coaching change and roster turnover from last year.
“They have a great group of guys – I played junior with a few of their players,” Watts said. “We knocked them out in five games last year and it was a good hard, fought series.”
Winning at home will be crucial for the Eagles to rise to the top of their league “winning in your own barn” and salvaging every point on the road is key to this team. Watts believes the Eagles have a solid core to do so.
“I like our squad,” Watts said. “We will tweak but I think we have but we have a good crew.”
Watts believes his team is prepared to get back in the win column.
“Last week we are leaving in the past – we weren’t going to go 18-0,” he said. “This week we can’t wait to get back on the ice and redeem ourselves.”