Innisfail Eagles load up on defence

There’s no such animal as too many defencemen. Well aware of that fact, Innisfail Eagles head coach Brian Sutter iced a lineup featuring eight rearguards during last weekend’s Eagles senior AAA hockey preseason tournament.

There’s no such animal as too many defencemen.

Well aware of that fact, Innisfail Eagles head coach Brian Sutter iced a lineup featuring eight rearguards during last weekend’s Eagles senior AAA hockey preseason tournament.

“That’s one thing we learned last year,” said Sutter, whose squad was eliminated by the arch-rival Bentley Generals in last spring’s provincial final. “We played step to step with those guys before we ran into injury trouble at the end of the year. Then we were down to three defencemen and we played Peter (forward Vandermeer) back there.

“You’ve got to have defencemen and they have to be key guys.”

To that end, Sutter has brought in the likes of former Olds Grizzly Chris Bailer, who graduated from the AJHL to play four seasons of NCAA hockey and spent the last three years in the Southern Professional League, and another former minor pro in Jordan Braid.

Sutter also expects to have Dan Vandermeer for a whole season after the former ECHL defenceman was in and out of the lineup last winter, and has talked to former blueliner Jason Lundmark, who has suited up for the Bentley Generals in the past and apparently hasn’t committed to either team for the 2015-16 campaign.

The former NHL coach of the year has also recruited forward Tyler Beechy, a former WHL star with Kootenay and Calgary who last season skated in Germany, and has brought in netminder Dan Dunn from the Okotoks Drillers, who have taken a one-year leave of absence from the Chinook League.

The Eagles’ 2015-16 roster will feature three Vandermeer brothers in Dan, Peter and Joe, who is the team captain and top offensive defenceman, while forwards Justin Cox, Mark Bomersback and Chad Ziegler are among the other key returnees.

Another new face who has impressed Sutter is forward Adam Johnson, a Hay Lakes product who played three seasons with Fort McMurray of the AJHL and suited up with the Camrose Augustana Vikings of the Alberta Colleges League over the past four winters.

“He’s a heck of a player and one of our top-end guys,” said Sutter.

The Eagles bench boss is entering his fourth season with the club after coaching the Generals for five years and winning the Allan Cup — the Canadian senior AAA championship — in 2009.

Since signing on as the Eagles head coach, Sutter has seen an improvement in the club each year.

“It’s a process, it takes two to three years to establish a winning mentality, to get the right people, and it’s the same thing here,” he said. “We started from scratch three years ago and we’ve just kept adding guys.

“It’s a process, it’s not something you just say you’re going to do. You have to bring in good people.”

• With the loss of the Drillers, the Chinook League will be comprised of four teams — Bentley, Innisfail, the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs and Stony Plain Eagles — this season.

The Rosetown, Sask., Redwings joined the Chinook League in June but just recently — after the schedule had been completed — had a change of heart and will stay in the Sask Valley League.

Just Posted

Ham radio operators in central Alberta tune in

Amateur radio enthusiasts in central Alberta tuned in for the weekend. Central… Continue reading

Winners crowned at 19th Woody’s Triathlon

The rain held off all weekend and made for great conditions for the more than 500 competitors

‘Clients fall off:’ Calgary program helps recently released prisoners with hep C

CALGARY — Imagine adjusting to life after serving prison time, then add… Continue reading

Five members of the same family now charged in relation to death of Kiran Dhesi

SURREY, B.C. — The RCMP made two arrests on Friday in connection… Continue reading

Rock climber suffers fatal fall on the Stawamus Chief overlooking Squamish, B.C.

SQUAMISH, B.C. — Police say a rock climber fell to his death… Continue reading

WATCH: Hundreds run in the 5K Foam Fest in Red Deer

The annual event took place at Heritage Ranch on Saturday

UK: Police visit incident dogs Johnson’s leadership campaign

LONDON — The leading contender to become Britain’s next prime minister is… Continue reading

Trump: ‘Surprise’ question about Pence led him to hesitate

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he hesitated when asked about endorsing… Continue reading

Indigenous drummers lead pipeline protesters on 22-kilometre march in Victoria

VICTORIA — The government approval of the Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion won’t stop… Continue reading

Retired UBC professor Peter Winterburn killed in Chile, school confirms

VALPARAISO, Chile — A retired geochemistry professor from the University of British… Continue reading

Sask. Premier Scott Moe participates in Pride parade in Saskatoon

SASKATOON — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe participated in his first Pride parade… Continue reading

Parents of soldier killed in parachute exercise ask for thorough investigation

OTTAWA — The remains of the Canadian soldier killed in a parachute-training… Continue reading

Despite billions in new spending, Duclos still sees ‘affordability’ gaps

OTTAWA — Despite billions of dollars in new spending over the last… Continue reading

Most Read