Bell’s Blog – Christmas Recap 2012-13

 The beginning of a new era in Dragons hockey began in March with the signing of Brian Curran as head coach/general manager. Curran added Kurt Walsten as an assistant, and they began the process of rebuilding a team that has struggled over the past three sasons.
From the spirited training camp through the exhibition schedule, through to the home opener in September, the coaching staff evaluated new talent alongside returning players as this year's Dragons began to take shape. Every new coach imparts his own stamp on the team, and the “Curran stamp” has been evident all season long.
The Dragons opened at home September 07 against the Calgary Canucks with a sense of optimism and excitement. For fans in attendance the only disappointment on opening night was a narrow 3-2 defeat to the Canucks. The way the Dragons competed, finished checks, created scoring chances, punished opponents in the defensive end, all should have added up to victory. One of those games where the Dragons probably deserved a better fate. They came back the next night in the rematch in Calgary and earned the first victory for Brian Curran and crew.
The story of the next month was written on the road, with ten consecutive games played away from the Memorial Arena. Although competitive in the majority of the games, wins were hard to come by as the team went 1-8-1 to fall into last place in the AJHL south division standings. Curran made several player moves just prior to the start of the season and in the early stages.  Notables such as Doug Jones, Sam Lawson, Davin Stener and Gio Bombini were traded, newcomers included Brad Deagle, Mitchell Gartner, Ryan Aasman, Adam Danyluk and Brandon Stone.
Unfortunately a season-ending shoulder injury sidelined Justin Morello, who came back to the Dragons in an off-season trade, and looked primed to have a tremendous season for the team. This very young squad had it's struggles through October, and it was not unexpected. The Dragons iced as many as eleven rookies most nights. Every young player needs some time to adjust to the AJHL regardless of  where they played previously. The adjustment for this young team actually came fairly quickly.

When the Dragons returned to the valley for an extended homestand, their record was 3-9-1. Unlike years past, even with that record, fans and players anticipated better things in the future. And did the boys deliver! After a couple of wins and a pair of losses, the Dragons turned a corner and began to show their true colors. The orange and black promptly reeled off a team-record eight consecutive victories to surge into the top half of the south division. Defending home ice was one of coach Curran's priorities this season, and a tidy five game winning streak at home showed the importance of those home ice wins. In a 10-game home stretch through the end of November, the Dragons went 7-3. Six of the wins were against south division teams, explaining the Dragons quick rise in the standings. A team best November of 7-2 erased any lingering memories of the slow start. The Christmas break finds the Dragons solidly in fourth place in the standings, within striking distance of second with 23 games left in the new year.

A pair of veteran Dragons reached important milestones in the seasons' first half. Both Brennan Baxandall and Ryan Bloom continue to move up the Dragons all-time lists in a number of categories.
Third-year vet Baxandall became the twelfth player to wear the “C” as Dragons captain. His leadership by example style is a good fit for this years' team.  #18 has been scorching goaltenders from his station at the left point in the first half as well, as his scoring line of 10-18=28 indicates. Brennan became the Dragons all-time leader in goals by a defenseman on November 24, when he scored his 19th career goal during a 3-1 win against the Mustangs at the Arena. The goal broke the previous mark of 18 set by 3-year Dragon Graham Klassen during his final season with the club in 2008-09. Bax is also moving up in games played, assists,  assists by a defenseman, and in points.
Ryan Bloom has had a very impressive first half, leading the team in scoring, while moving rapidly up the all-time scoring charts.  #41 became the 38th player to reach the 100 games played mark for the Dragons on December 01 in a game against Whitecourt here in the valley. Ryan has also become just the 6th player to top 40 career goals, 60 career assists and 100 career points. Ryan's 100th point came on a nifty assist on Bryton Mills' goal in the first period of a game in Okotoks December 15. Through the first half Ryan has had goals in three straight games twice, as well as two 6-game point scoring streaks. His play was noticed by the AJHL recently, as he was named the league's “player-of-the-week” December 12.

A very good first four months of the season. The expectations for the great year to continue extend into January and beyond.

Below is a quick recap of some of the events that marked the first half of 2012-13:

June 21  trade Logan Sceviour, Brody Robinson and f/c to Flin Flon for Stefan Virtanen
Aug.25  trade Gio Bombini to Kindersley to Tanner Kissick
Sep.02  trade Sam Lawson to Grande Prairie for Ryan Aasman
Sep.07  Dakota Zaharichuk, 1st goal (in 1st game), 3-2 loss vs Canucks (Andrew Guglielmin)
  10th home opener. 3-2 loss versus Canucks.
Sep.08  Tyler Kerner, Mitchell Cook, 1st goals, 4-3 win at Canucks (Andrew Guglielmin)
  Garrett Storms, 1st AJHL start
Sep.14  Chris Wray, 2nd career shutout, 29 saves, 2-0 win vs Sherwood Park
  Leighton McLachlan acquired from Fort McMurray, f/c
Sep.15  Josh Kluck released (1 g, 0-0=0, 0 pim)
Sep.21  Ryan Aasman, 1st goal as a Dragon, 3-1 loss at Canmore (Ty Swabb)
  Jameson Shortreed, 1st appearance as Dragon, relief of Wray  54.53 mp, 27–27 shots
Sep.23  Colton Vanucci, Tanner Kissick, Cavin Leth, 1st goals, 8-4 loss at Canucks (Andrew Guglielmin)
  Jameson Shortreed, 1st AJHL start, 51.37 mp, 25–32 shots
Sep.25  Stephen Doane, 1st goal, 6-5 loss at Mustangs (Jake Tamagi)
Sep.23–27 Mitchell Cook, goals in 3 straight games (3-1=4)
Sep.23–28 Brennan Baxandall, assists in 4 straight games (1-5=6)
Sep.28  5 powerplay goals in 5-4 win vs Olds at Showcase in Spruce Grove
Oct.03  Doug Jones traded to Kindersley for Brad Deagle (5g, 0-1=1, 7 pim)
Oct.05  Stefan Virtanen, 1st goal, 3-2 o.t. loss at Grande Prairie (Nick Kulmanovsky)
Sep.25-Oct.07 Brodie Jamieson, 6 game point streak (2-8=10)
Oct.08  Ben Primeau released (6g, 0-0=0, 4 pim)
Oct.12  Adam Beukeboom, 1st game with Dragons (from Regina, WHL) lost 6-0 at Brooks
Oct.13  Chris Rauckman, 1st goal, 3-2 loss at Camrose (Matthew Gibney)
Oct.16  Stefan Virtanen released (8g, 1-3=4, 6 pim)
  Justin Morello, season-ending shoulder  surgery (5g, 0-0=0, 4 pim)
Oct.17  Adam Beukeboom, 1st win as Dragon, 23 saves in 5-1 win vs Olds
Oct.18  Jared Potter released (6g, 0-0=0, 2 pim)
Oct.19  Adam Beukeboom, 1st AJHL shutout, 32 saves in 6-0 win vs Okotoks
  Hunter Mills, 1st goal (Devin Green)
Oct.26  Brandon Stone, 1st start, 1st win, 4-3 ot win vs Spruce Grove {Logan Aasman, played as ap.1st game AJHL}
Oct.30  game in Hanna, won 5-3 vs Olds (1st win in Hanna since 2003)
Oct.13-30 Ryan Bloom, 6 game point streak (4-3=7)
Nov.07  Bryton Mills, 100th AJHL game, 2-0 loss vs Brooks (22nd game with Dragons)
Nov.16  Brandon Stone, 1st AJHL shutout, 22 saves, 3-0 vs Canucks
Nov.17  Brad Deagle, 100th AJHL game, 5-1 win vs Olds (4th game with Dragons)
Nov.21  Brandon Stone, Andrew Guglielmin, goalie fight in 3rd period. Dragons won 5-2 vs Canucks. (4 games each suspensions)
Nov.24  Brennan Baxandall, 9th goal of season, 19th career goal, new record: career goals, defenseman
  (old: 18, Graham Klassen, 2006-09) 16.58 of 1st (C.Rauckman, T.Kerner) 3-1 win vs Mustangs (Jake Tamagi)
Dec.01  beat Whitecourt 3-2 at Arena. Team record 8th consecutive victory (Nov.11-Dec.01, 8-0)
  Ryan Bloom, 100th career game {38th Dragon.0-0=0}
Dec.01  Chris Wray released. Michael Zipp recalled by Everett, WHL.
Dec.05  Shayne Gwinner called up to Saskatoon (was traded by P.A. to Blades)
Dec.11  Bryton Mills, 3 goals (2,3,4), 6-2 win at Olds (Ethan Jemieff)
  Joey Raats, 1st AJHL goal  (Jake Tamagi)
Dec.14  Brandon Stone and Tanner Kissick leave team. Status to be determined.
Dec.15  Ryan Bloom, 100th career point, assist on Bryton Mills 1st period goal. (6th Dragon. 1-1=2) 6-2 win at Okotoks.
Dec.05–15 Ryan Bloom, 6 game point streak (5-6=11)
Dec.08–15 Bryton Mills, 5 game point streak (5-1=6)
Dec.17  Ryan Bloom named AJHL player of the week. (Was also AJHL “p.o.w.” February, 2012)

Dec.20  Xmas break: 37 gp, 19-15-3 (2nd best record at break in club history. 2007-08 was best)

Dec.21  1st Dragons “Alumni” game