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

One strong wind leaves years of replanting work for Red Deer parks staff

High visibility boulevards already replanted, neighbourhood work starts next year

Red Deer-area indigenous filmmakers invited to apply for $20,000 grant

Storyhive launches Indigenous Storyteller Edition

Restaurant closed after compliance team patrol

Public Safety Compliance Team checked eight bars and restaurants on Oct. 19

Red Deerians await local cannabis stores

So far 31 stores in Alberta awarded licence to operate

Rimbey RCMP seek missing man with health concerns

Has anyone seen Bill Harris of Ponka County?

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

Anywhere but Washington: Why DC stories rarely film in DC

WASHINGTON — It’s a hobby among District of Columbia locals: Picking apart… Continue reading

‘Halloween’ scares up $77.5 million in ticket sales

LOS ANGELES — Forty years after he first appeared in theatres, Michael… Continue reading

iPhone XR makes the right trade-offs for a cheaper price

NEW YORK — Apple offers you a simple trade-off with its new… Continue reading

BMW to recall 1.6 million vehicles worldwide over fire risk

FRANKFURT — Automaker BMW says it is expanding a recall to cover… Continue reading

Calgary awaits federal financing on 2026, Notley suggests IOC could pay more

CALGARY — With the clock ticking towards a Calgary vote on hosting… Continue reading

Toronto Mayor John Tory cruises to victory; tech issues extend voting elsewhere

Toronto Mayor John Tory easily won re-election on Monday after a spirited… Continue reading

Local Sports: Rudy Soffo valuable to Kings on the court

When Rudy Soffo first saw the RDC basketball Kings roster he was… Continue reading

Except for 1 kick, Saints, Ravens are evenly matched

BALTIMORE — In a matchup between the league’s highest-scoring offence and top-ranked… Continue reading

Most Read