An absence of being able to finish has somewhat stalled the Soo Eagles through seven games of the 2019-2020 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League regular season.
The Eagles have managed to score just 17 goals in seven games to date. Still, thanks in no small part to the play of veteran goalie Shane Brancato, the Eagles are just below the .500 mark with a record of 2-3-2.
And while long-time Eagles general manager Bruno Bragagnolo — during a guest appearance on the Hockey North Show, which airs Tuesdays at 5 p.m. on local radio station ESPN 1400 — acknowledged the standout play of Brancato, he noted that is not concerned about the lack of scoring production.
“Shane has played well for us and that dates back to the end of last season when he took over as our number goalie,” Bragagnolo said of Brancato, who has a 2.75 goals against average along with a .925 goals against average and 2-3-1 record through six games.
“He had some college opportunities for this season but he decided to come back with us for his last year of junior … he gives us that proven veteran experience in net … Shane is someone who competes hard and is always trying to improve,” Bragagnolo added in further praise of Brancato, who hails from Lake Villa, Illinois.
As for the fact that the Eagles have scored just 17 goals in seven games, Bragagnolo said the scoring chances have been there for coach Doug Laprade’s crew.
“We are definitely getting the opportunities … we just have to do a better job of finishing,” Bragagnolo said evenly. “We are a work in progress.”
A trio of second-year forwards are the Eagles scoring leaders to date.
Raf Praysner is leading the way with four goals, two assists, six points in five games. Next is Caleb Wood with four goals, no assists, four points in six contests. Then it is Bobby Price with one goal, three assists, four points in seven outings.
Praysner and Wood both played minor hockey in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario while Price is a product of the Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan system.
The Eagles return to action on Friday night of this week when they play host to the cross-river Thunderbirds at Pullar Stadium. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
PHOTO: Raf Praysner (left) and Caleb Wood of the Soo Eagles.