Skip to content

Innisfail Eagles win the President’s Cup

With the Chinook Hockey League regular season over the local Birds prepare for the provincial AAA senior mens provincial championship series.

INNISFAIL - The Innisfail Eagles are once again regular season senior men's hockey champions.

The Birds took the President’s Cup in 2023, and won it again at home a year later on Feb. 17 with a convincing 9 – 3 win over archrival Stony Plain Eagles.

“It's big. It’s pretty important to the town and the team and it’s back to back,” said Eagles assistant captain Ty Clay. “It's a good start heading into the playoff round. “I think it's big, especially to win 9-3. That maybe puts a little doubt in their (Stony Plain) minds and its more confidence for us.”

The afternoon game at the Innisfail Twin Arena on Feb. 17 was the eighth and last regular season game of the 2023-24 Chinook Hockey League (CHL) season.

The CHL, named Allan Cup Hockey West from 2017 to 2022, came back to its old title last season with three teams, including the Cremona Coyotes. But Cremona did not return for 2023-24 and the CHL moved into this season with just the two Eagles teams.

Stony Plain won the last two games of the 2023-24 season against Innisfail.

That left both teams tied in points for top spot heading into the final game of the regular season.

All games between these two longstanding rivals were intense and there was every reason to believe the regular season title game would be no different.

However, the first period on Feb. 17 was lacklustre.

Nevertheless, Stony Plain’s Jarod Mottershead notched the game’s opening goal midway in the first period to give the northern Eagles a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.

But that was as close as Stony Plain got to winning the regular season title.

Innisfail roared back in the second period with five unanswered goals by Quinton Lisoway, Pierre-Luc Mercier, Mike Marianchuk, Jesse Lees and Clay.

After 40 minutes Innisfail had a commanding 5-1 lead.

But the feisty Stony squad did not go gently into the good night.

Chad Hohmann, player-coach of the northern Eagles, scored just over four minutes into the third period to make it 5-2.

But it was too little, too late for Stony Plain. Innisfail turned it on with another four goals. Lees and Clay both notched their second goals of the game with final frame singles going to Chase Thudium and Parker Smyth.

The final score was 9-3 for the Innisfail Eagles. They outshot Stony Plain by a margin of 49-31.

“We found our legs in the second period, and we got a lot of pucks on net,” said assistant coach Kent Wing. “These guys (Stony Plain) have been tough to beat all year and all of a sudden the flood gates opened for us.”

Outside the Stony Plain dressing room Hohmann was clearly disappointed with the loss, noting both teams were competitive all season and tied in points heading into the final game.

“Too bad it wasn't a closer game. It’s disappointing the eighth game wasn’t a better one,” said Hohmann, adding optimistically the upcoming best of five provincial championship series against Innisfail is starting in early March. “We've had success down here this year.

“We just have to regroup and get ready for the provincial playdowns and bring a better effort next time.”

The provincial championship series is slated to start either on March 2 or 9. By winning the regular season title Innisfail heads into the best of five tournament with home ice advantage.

Innisfail head coach Kevin Smyth said the regular season title is not his team’s “end goal”, adding it’s just the first step of three before the provincials next month and April’s Allan Cup tourney in Ontario.

“We can't be complacent. They (Stony Plain) are a historic franchise and they've got a lot of pride,” said Smyth. “We got to be prepared to get back to battle.”

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks