The Senior ‘AA’ Eckville Eagles(9-8-1) took care of business against the Devon Oil Barons winning there series 3-0 over the last month. The team will now move to take on a familiar foe in the top-seeded Daysland Northstars (14-1-3)
“We set out to beat Devon – we did that and now we get the proverbial evil empire,” Owner, General Manager and Defencemen for the Eagles, Reed Watts said.
The second round showdown comes after the Eagles finished off Devon while on the road last Friday, when the Eagles soared into Town for a 6-4 thriller. Watts was pleased the Eagles were able to take care of business in the high scoring third period.
“The third period was such a mix of emotions,” he said. “We got that 3-2 lead and everyone on the bench was jumping and celebrating. Within a minute they tied it up and then we got it to 4-3. They tied it up again. It was wild to be part of and it was a great experience.”
Eagle Matthew Kinnunen would eventually knock in the winning goal with just under six minutes to play. Kinnunen’s team mate, Matt Schmermund would knock in the insurance empty netter. Watts credited the win to the confidence gained in the first two games.
“Momentum in my opinion is a very real factor,” he said. “It’s hard to measure – basically its impossible to measure, but it’s a real thing. You can’t discount that when you are rolling, playing good and feeling good.”
The Eagles now look to excise some early season demons, after Daysland throttled Eckville in the first two games. Watts doesn’t think you can compare the Eagles then, to the Eagles of now.
“At the start of the season we weren’t a team,” Watts said. “We wore the same outfits but we were still trying to learn each other. The continuity on our bench is now light years ahead. Everyone knows their role and everyone is buying into the playoffs. We are definitely a different team.”
The Eagles, despite their string of successes in the new year, are not taking the NCHL’s first seeded team lightly.
“Preparing for them is no different then earlier in the year,” Watts said. “They won’t give you chances. They are a stingy team. They can score. They’re a really good counter attack team. It’ll be a matter of us being smart in our zone and using our defence to lead to our offence.”
With the Eagles making it into the second round, the people of Eckville will get at least one more home game at the Eckville Arena.
“I’m happy to bring competitive hockey to where I call home,” Watts said. “The playoff games had people around Town excited and they were following it. I’m very thankful for the support we have got from the town.”
Watts is optimistic the season will continue past Daysland and more games will come to Eckville.
“They’re the team to beat,” he said. “We have to beat them. There is no free way to the finals so if you want to be the best, you have to beat the champs. That’s our goal to be a year in, year out contender.”