It's taken a year, but the Ranchland Hockey League is ready to welcome the Innisfail Eagles into the fold for the 2021-22 season. The Eagles were actually accepted into the league at the league's spring meeting in Nanton last June 2020. Unfortunately, everyone knows what happened to last season being cancelled due to the Coronavirus. Fast forward to now, the Ranchland is ready to start a new season in October.
The Innisfail Eagles have been in existence since 1947, making them one of the longest running teams in Alberta. Originally a Senior A team playing in the "AAA" Chinook League proved difficult, although the Eagles won the Alberta Provincial "AA" crown in 2013. I'm not sure when the Eagles actually moved up to "AAA" status, but they paid their dues in the Chinook League playing behind powerhouse teams in Bentley, Stony Plain and Fort Saskatchewan. The Eagles came within 1 win of taking home the Allan Cup in 2018, losing in the cup final to Lacombe Generals. The Eagles are maintaining their "AAA" status while playing in the Ranchland Hockey League as a means to keep their players fresh. Once the RHL playoffs arrive, the Eagles will not participate as they will then prepare for the "AAA" Provincial playoffs, most likely against the only other "AAA" team in Alberta, the Stony Plain Eagles.
The Eagles are coached by long time NHL player and coach, Brian Sutter. Sutter has coached the Eagles now since 2012 after having also coached "AAA" Bentley Generals to their first Allan Cup in 2009. Sutter played 2 seasons in Lethbridge back in 75 and 76. Eagles Manager Ryan Dodd has said they are looking forward to playing "new" teams, and expects games to be close.
The Ranchland Hockey League welcomes the Innisfail Eagles for the 2021-22 season!