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Mountie by day, hockey star by night

Simon Desbiens returns from RCMP duty in Coutts and scores four goals to lead Innisfail Eagles to blow out win

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.

Photo of Simon Besbiens who had four goals in the game
The Eagles’ Simon Desbiens had a sensational game at home on Feb. 5. He scored four goals and added two assists to lead the Birds to a 13 – 0 romp over the 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.”

Photo of Quintin Lisoway shooting from the wing
Eagles forward Quintin Lisoway blasts a shot at the Buffaloes net during the third period of game at the Arena on Feb. 5. Lisoway had another fine game for the Birds with two goals.

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.

Photo of goaltender Chance Clark
Eagles goaltender Chance Clark was tested early in the first period against Siksika on Feb. 5 but he kept the Buffaloes off the board and stopped all 26 shots in the game to record 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.

Photo of Siksika Goaltender save on Josh Gette
Despite the final 13 – 0 score, Siksika goaltender Lane McMaster was often brilliant in net. He faced 69 shots, most high quality, from the blitzing Innisfail Eagles on Feb. 5.

“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 their season’s last home game against Lethbridge on Feb. 27. Puck drop is 1 p.m.

Story and photos by Johnnie Bachusky / The Albertan