NANTON/LETHBRIDGE - The Innisfail Eagles kept up their perfect season record on the holiday weekend with a pair of convincing wins on the road.
On Friday, Feb. 18, the Birds made their first trip to the Tom Hornecker Recreation Centre in Nanton as the Palominos had been playing their games out of High River.
With their fans ready for some high-end Ranchland Hockey League (RHL) senior men's action, the Palominos and Eagles battled back and forth in the first period.
The Birds’ Colten Hayes potted the first four minutes in. The remainder of the period was kept tight in all zones before RHL leading scorer Quintin Lisoway scored with just over a minute remaining to give the Birds momentum into intermission.
The second was much better for the Birds as Hayes scored a power-play goal early.
Lisoway put the Eagles up 4-0 midway through and Nanton replied quickly to bring the score to 4-1 as Bradley Forrest put one to the net past Eagles netminder Chance Clark.
In the third, it was all Eagles as Lisoway scored his hat trick goal 33 seconds in. Braden Crone, Levi Nelson and Nicholas Noseworthy rounded out the scoring in the third for the 8-1 win.
Lisoway led the Eagles with a five-point night with three goals and two assists to earn the game’s first star.
On Saturday, Feb. 19, the Eagles made the long trip to Lethbridge to face the Lightning at the Nicolas Sheran Arena.
The Eagles got there early with plenty of time to prepare for this more-heated rivalry and were able to watch their namesake Lethbridge Jr. Eagles pick up a win right before.
But it was the main event that brought a lot of emotion to the table with these two teams in the battle for top spot.
The Birds had their legs moving early and took it to Lethbridge right away.
With his veteran presence, Bryan Forslund found himself alone to bury the first one up top for the 1-0 lead just three and a half minutes in.
Joe Vandermeer replied with a laser through traffic for the 2-0 lead. Lethbridge regrouped and Keegan McDowell made it 2-1.
Continuing from his explosive scoring for the Eagles the night before, Lisoway made it 3-1 and then 4-1 just four minutes after that with his 20th and 21st goals of the season.
The Lightning’s Keegan McDowell and Jarrett Metheral brought Lethbridge back as the teams went into the dressing rooms 4-3 after one.
The two teams went head-to-head with inspired hockey from both teams in the early half of the second period.
Jordan Thomson expanded Innisfail’s lead at 11:49 with a smart point shot, and Richard Kelly made it 6-3 closer to the three-minute mark by shelving one upstairs on Lightning goalie Alex Sirard.
Lethbridge would not bend though and Dayn Opel surprised the Birds with a shorthanded marker by jumping out of the penalty box to put one past Chance Clark with eight seconds left. The two teams went to the room at 6-4 Eagles.
In the third, the Birds’ Jordan Cullum scored a beauty weaving through the slot and using multiple players as a screen to give the Eagles their eighth goal.
Lisoway scored his third at 11:23 to put the Birds up 8-4. Lethbridge replied later to bring the scoring to an 8-5 final tally.
With the road wins in Nanton and Lethbridge the Eagles now have a perfect regular season record of 13 wins and zero losses.
Lisoway picked up another hat trick and Bryan Forslund lead the way with a four-point night for the Eagles.
The Eagles round out their road trip this week as they head to Siksika on Wednesday, Feb. 23, and Fort Macleod on Friday, Feb. 25. These games are rescheduled from the cancelled ones earlier in the season.
The final regular season game for the Eagles is Sunday Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. as Lethbridge travels back for another rescheduled game.