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Innisfail Eagles win second straight provincial championship

Headed back to the Allan Cup
The Innisfail Eagles took down the Stony Plain Eagles to secure their second straight provincial title. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

The Innisfail Eagles are headed back to the Allan Cup to compete for a national senior AAA championship.

On Friday night the Eagles booked their ticket after defeating the Stony Plain 5-2 in front of their home crowd to capture their second straight Senior Men’s AAA Provincial Championship.

Innisfail swept the best of five series in front of a packed crowd at the Innisfail Twin Arena.

They led 2-1 after the first period and added two more in the second before notching their fifth of the game in the final frame. Chase Thudium scored twice followed by goals from Jesse Lees, Ty Clay, and Colton Hayes to secure the victory.

Head coach Ryan Dodd said it’s a great win for the players, sponsors, fans, and the organization.

“Everybody is so positive around the team and they’re such great people. You love to see the families come to celebrate the championship and that’s really what it’s all about,” Dodd said.

“It’s a huge thing for Innisfail. It’s something the guys have been chasing for a lot of years… We captured it with a dominant force. The last game was an excellent hockey game.”

Last year Innisfail won their first-ever provincial championship in the team’s 75-year history. They swept Stony Plain in the five-game series to win the title.

This year they came back for more and did so in a dominant fashion. In Game 1 they blew out Stony Plain 7-3 in Innisfail followed by a 10-4 victory on the road in Game 2.

Dodd explained their start in both games were not as good as it could have been. He felt they had more in them but it took them a bit of time to get settled in.

“Once we got our legs under us the guys just couldn’t be stopped and ultimately that’s what worked in our favour. We practiced so hard I don’t think any senior teams practiced the way we did,” he said.

“It showed in the later periods of the game. The other teams started to make mistakes… And we weren’t tired. We were still sharp and that was a huge part of our success.”

With the win, the Eagles will represent Alberta at the 2024 Allan Cup Challenge in Dundas, Ont. from April 20-27. They’ll face the top Canadian senior AAA teams in hopes of winning a national title.

The other teams set to take part in the tournament include the host Dundas Real McCoys, the Southern Shore Breakers from Newfoundland and Labrador, and the winner of the OHA’s Allan Cup Hockey league.

All games will be played at the J L Grightmire Arena in Dundas. The Eagles will open the tournament on April 21 against the champion of the Allan Cup Hockey League followed by a matchup with the McCoys on April 22.

The Eagles will then play one more round-robin game on April 24 against the Southern Shore Breakers. Depending on how they do the semi-finals will take place on April 26 and the finals on April 27.

“We have unfinished business,” Dodd added.

“[The provincial championship] is not what they’re after, it’s not the one they want. That burning pit in their stomach is still burning from losing last year and they don’t want to lose again.”

The Eagles’ fundraising effort for the Allan Cup is now also officially underway.

They have sponsorship packages available and those interested can reach out to Dodd or through Innisfail’s social media accounts. They also have smaller packages available for people who want to donate their own money.

The Eagles will also hold several events including one out of town in Canmore. At this point, dates are being confirmed for all of those events.

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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