INNISFAIL – The Birds of Innisfail recorded another convincing win last Saturday night but this time it was due to a hero cop returning from duty from down south at the border.
The home game was another easy win for the Eagles, an AAA men's hockey team with superior skills playing in the AA Ranchland Hockey League.
But the story that stood tallest on Feb. 5 was 26-year-old forward Simon Desbiens. He scored four goals and added two assists to lead the Birds to a 13 – 0 win over the spirited but decidedly overmatched Siksika Buffaloes.
“Simon when he comes is always a dominant player like that. He’s an RCMP officer, and after he played our game here last Saturday (Jan. 29) he’s been deployed down to Coutts (blockade) and since then came back and played in the game tonight,” said Eagles head coach Brian Sutter. “It’s pretty special what he did tonight. It’s special where’s he’s been. He’s a person with a lot of character and a lot of integrity.
“He’s God blessed with the ability to skate and shoot the puck and you could see that tonight,” added Sutter.
After the game Desbiens, who has been with the Eagles since the 2016-17 season, didn't focus on himself on the ice or as a Mountie. Instead, it was the team that mattered, and its continued growth towards the goal of an Allan Cup championship.
“We spent a lot of time in their (Siksika) zone. We out-skated them and played better than they did,” said Desbiens. “As the season gets older, we definitely want to get sharper. We showed that tonight. The passes were on the tape. The execution was right on. We just want to be ready when the real time comes.”
As for the game itself, it started competitively. The Buffaloes didn't give up a goal until nearly the nine-minute mark of the opening frame. In fact, Eagles goalie Chance Clark was forced to make a few big saves.
But the flood gates opened when Desbiens scored the Eagles’ first goal at 8:46.
In the end, the Eagles fired 69 shots at Siksika goaltender Lane McMaster. Other Eagles goals came from Quintin Lisoway with two, with singles coming from Tyson Scott, Levi Nelson, Colten Hayes. Pierre-Luc Mercier, Braden Crone, Chad Robinson and Joe Vandermeer. Clark blocked 26 shots for the shutout.
With the game turning into a rout by the second period, several skirmishes and fights broke as the Buffaloes were clearly frustrated.
Siksika head coach Jason Doore noted his team played only its second game since before the Christmas break.
“We were a step behind. You can see they were out of shape with only two skates. We just got to get more ice under our legs and hopefully regroup and go at it again,” said Doore, noting his community has been devastated. “COVID really took a part of our team and it shut down our arena. Some of the boys got COVID, so they were out for a long period of time.
“Our community was in the red code, and they shut down all our community centres and our schools,” he added. “So, it was a tough one.”
With the win, the Eagles improve their perfect regular season record in the five- team league to 11 wins and no losses.
The Birds now go on the road for three games. The Eagles are in Fort Mcleod on Feb. 12, Nanton on Feb. 18 and Lethbridge on Feb. 19.
The Birds host their season's last home game against Lethbridge on Feb. 27. Puck drop is 1 p.m.