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

Man from Olds killed in collision near Sundre

A 39-year-old man from Olds was killed in a collision near Sundre… Continue reading

Tips to keep crime at bay this Christmas

’Tis the season for joy and celebration, but the Christmas season can… Continue reading

Olympic ski run designer creates upgrades at Canyon Ski Resort

Jeff Ihaksi says free-style and alpine ski venues are Canada Winter Games-worthy

Updated: Collision expert backs version of crash of driver accused of manslaughter

Daniel Newsham accused of manslaughter in fatal 2016 collision

WATCH: More than 100 protest UN migration pact, carbon tax in Red Deer

Chants of “Trudeau must go” echoed through the streets of downtown Red… Continue reading

Baloo the cat is back at home after being mistakenly shipped to Montreal

HALIFAX — Much to the relief of his loving family, Baloo the… Continue reading

‘It’s what we do’: Famous Newfoundlanders help replace veteran’s stolen guitar

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Two famous Newfoundlanders stepped in to help an… Continue reading

Quebec’s anti-corruption unit blames media coverage for recruiting troubles

MONTREAL — Seven years after it was created, Quebec’s anti-corruption unit is… Continue reading

Former PQ cabinet minister poised to become next Bloc Quebecois leader

MONTREAL — It appears likely that Yves-Francois Blanchet, a former Parti Quebecois… Continue reading

J&J hammered by report it knew of asbestos in baby powder

NEW YORK — Johnson & Johnson on Friday forcefully denied a media… Continue reading

Police want direct talk with missing Colorado woman’s fiance

DENVER — An official leading the search for a missing Colorado woman… Continue reading

Death of 7-year-old on border raises questions

WASHINGTON — Just 7 years old, Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin was… Continue reading

Tkachuk’s goal in 3rd gives Flames 2-1 win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Matthew Tkachuk scored the go-ahead goal midway through… Continue reading

Most Read