INNISFAIL - Jason Reckseidler adores the Innisfail Eagles, a love affair that has been in his family for more than a half century when his dad Ray played for the team from 1967 to 1970.
Reckseidler, who is known by all as Rexy, was a regular netminder for the Birds from 2002 to 2006, and ranks fifth in the team’s 75-year history for most games played by a goalie. His father Ray is eighth on the same list.
Rexy is now a member of the Eagles’ board of directors, and while unofficially retired as a team player he will do anything for his beloved team, including helping out in practices and joining the squad on the road.
He is officially on loan to the Eagles this season from the Irma Aces of East Central Senior Hockey League as an emergency back-up.
On Jan. 15 he got the call he was needed to be the back-up goalie in the home game against the Nanton Palominos.
Everything was going reasonably well until the 13.25 mark of the second period. The score was tied 2 – 2 but Eagles starting goalie David Fisher was injured during a pile-up in front of the net. After several anxious minutes, Eagles head coach Brian Sutter turned to his emergency back-up, and said, “Rexy start warming up.”
For the first time in 15 years Rexy was back in action. Nanton scored once against him in the second period but his teammates fought back and the game was tied 3 – 3 after 40 minutes.
The Eagles came out in the third flying hard and scored two quick goals to go ahead 5 – 3. Several times in the final period Rexy was called upon to make big saves. Nanton came back with two but the emergency back-up held the fort until the end of regulation.
The game then went into a five-minute overtime period. The Eagles could not put one past Nanton’s Matt McDonald, and Rexy stoned the Palominos. With overtime over, it was time for a shoot-out. Rexy made two sensational shoot-out saves against Nanton, and veteran Eagles forward Kyle Sheen scored the winner.
The Eagles claimed a 6 – 5 victory.
The Birds outshot Nanton 35 – 22 and had far more scoring opportunities. However, it was another game of facing adversity as only 14 players were dressed against Nanton’s 19, and then the Birds had to rely on an emergency back-up goalie, despite being this season’s dominant squad in the senior mens AA Ranchland Hockey League (RHL).
Rexy’s emergency netminding save seemingly energized the Eagles as they dominated Nanton at home the next day on Jan. 16 with a convincing 5 – 1 victory. Five different Eagles scored. They outshot the Palominos 48 – 18. Rexy did not play, as newcomer Chance Clark was called in to handle 18 shots.
Nevertheless, the game on Jan. 15, the Eagles’ first since Dec. 18, was the type of victory that pleased coach Sutter.
“The goalie (Rexy) made the last save,” he said. “As I said you got to learn something every night, and yes we were shorthanded and that is not an excuse. Winning is never easy or otherwise everybody would do it. Sometimes it’s not just winning but how you are winning. We deserved it (win) tonight.”
As for Rexy, he said he was surprised to get the call to go in the Jan. 15th game but being ready is the job of everyone in the Eagles dressing room and he was elated to have the opportunity to return to action for the Birds.
“I was born and raised to be an Innisfail Eagle, so it was nice to come back and help out the team and get this win tonight. It has been what I have been here all year, to help out if I was needed,” said Rexy, adding he had “the good butterflies” when he got called to go in the game.
“It’s good to have a little bit of nerves to channel that energy into the game, so I like butterflies. If I don’t have the butterflies, it is harder to get going. I felt great.”
With the wins on Jan 15 and 16, the Eagles now have a perfect RHL regular season record of nine wins and no losses.
The Eagles next game is on the road on Jan. 22 against the Siksika Buffaloes.