Prior to the just-completed string of seven straight road games over 16 days, the main goal for coach Bob Francis and his Golden Eagles was to hang onto second place.

The Eagles accomplished that goal - barely - and now have the luxury of 11 home games and just three road games during the next month.The first of those 11-in-14 home games is Monday when the Phoenix Roadrunners play in the Salt Palace. Game time is 7 p.m.

Phoenix happens to be one of those teams nipping at the Eagles heels. Salt Lake is second on the IHL West with 53 points at 24-21-5, while Phoenix is tied for third with San Diego with 50 points at 23-22-4.

"We knew the month of January would be tough," said Francis. "But we have control of our destiny now. We have a favorable schedule coming up and we can make up some ground."

Francis has been pleased with his team's improved defense, but he's concerned about the offense. "We've had some trouble scoring goals," he said.

The Eagles got some needed offensive help when Martin Simard was returned from Calgary. However after playing in just one game he has been out with a bruised tendon in his knee. He's "day to day," according to Francis.

Salt Lake lost defenseman Ken Sabourin for good when he was traded out of the organization last week.