Short bench hinders season start for Eagles

There's nothing regular about the start of the Sicamous Eagle's regular season.

The Sicamous Eagles hope to have extra manpower on the bench this weekend when they face off against the Steam in Summerland on Friday, and the Osoyoos Coyotes Saturday night in Sicamous.

There’s nothing regular about the start of the Sicamous Eagle’s regular season.

The Junior B team suffered back-to-back shutouts over the weekend with a 6-0 upset in 100 Mile House on Sept. 15 versus the Wranglers, followed by a 6-0 home-ice loss on the 16th to the Summerland Steam.

Eagles manager Wayne March attributes the losses not to a lack of effort by the team, but a lack of players. Between the two games, the team had 12 and 13 players on the bench excluding goaltenders. The rest of the roster dealing with injuries, serving out suspensions or stuck in administrative limbo.

“We’ve got three players out with long-term injuries, we’ve got two suspended from the start of the season in exhibition play –they’ll be back to play on the 23rd,” said March.

Five other players are currently being kept out of action because of administrative issues involving BC Hockey and Hockey Alberta.

“This is the most ridiculous, stupidest thing… It’s what they’re making us go through,” explained March, who is anxious to see the five carded and on the ice with the Eagles. “Kids are finishing minor hockey, we have to get releases from, you know, where they played before. In Alberta, we’ve got to have signed contracts sent to BC Amateur and Hockey Alberta. Hockey Alberta is just killing it for everybody. I’m sad to say it’s not just our team. A lot of the teams in the KIJHL are having the same problem with them.”

This left the Eagles’ active roster with two line changes for both of last weekend’s games.

“They’re skating their guts out and trying and trying, but you get breakdowns because people are tired,” said March. “The first thing that goes when you’re really tired is your brain. Brain and co-ordination and lacking there in the end…

“They know they’re going through a hard time and, honestly, it just makes better hockey players of them.”

March said the lag this year in getting players carded is new, and has to do with Hockey Alberta not wanting B.C. teams holding hockey camps in that province.

“They went to BC Hockey and raised a pile of crap. So when we do it now we do it under a different format, not Sicamous Eagle Junior Hockey Club,” said March, who is hopeful the five will be ready for Friday’s (Sept. 22) rematch against the Steam in Summerland.

Regarding the injured players, one, with a fractured arm, is expected to be back in a month. The other two are out with leg injuries. One of them may be back on the ice in a couple of weeks, while the other is out of play indefinitely.

“We’re not sure how long it’s going to be. It’s a bad, deep bone injury,” said March.

Despite the rough start, there is a silver lining in that the Eagle’s numbers will soon be where they should be.

“Once we get, you know, 20 guys on the ice per game, we will hold our own with anybody…,” said March. “I expect to see a pretty good hockey team here in the end. I mean Rob (Fitzpatrick) and his coaches, they’ve done a lot of work. They’ve done a lot of recruiting. They spent the summer recruiting, more than we ever had before – in the last three years.”

The Eagles’ next home game is Saturday, Sept. 23, when they host the Osoyoos Coyotes. Game time is 7 p.m.