The Drumheller Dragons hit the road on Friday for their first regular season game of the year versus the always tough Camrose Kodiaks, and it proved to be quite a test for the young Dragons. Camrose came out storming and the Dragons were caught on their heels as the Kodiaks took a 3-0 lead after the first period.
The second period started off slow for the Dragons until 5 minutes through veteran Slater Dykema got the Dragons on the board. However, after two periods, the Dragons still trailed 4-1.
The Dragons came out flying in the third period, showing a no-quit attitude as Dykema scored again and soon after defenseman Blake Kleiner ripped one past Kodiaks goaltender Patrick Gora to bring the Dragons within one goal of the Kodiaks. It looked like the Dragons had all the momentum but they took a penalty and the Kodiaks scored on the powerplay to make it 5-3. Soon after, the Kodiaks added another, but the Dragons would not quit as forward Jordan Taupert added a late goal. The Dragons ultimately ran out of time and the final score was 6-4 for the Kodiaks.
“It was a game that I can say I was very proud of the boys,” said Dragons head coach, Brian Curran. “I knew we would get caught up in the first period with so many first year players. I didn’t want it to happen but the first game for young players is always a tough one,” Curran noted. “What I did like was after the first five minutes of the second period we started to believe and we never gave up until the end. We had our chances to change the outcome, but it was just too late.”
After getting home late Friday evening, the Dragons hit the road again on Saturday and headed west to Canmore to take on the Eagles. Once again, the Dragons had a slow start and fell behind 4-0 after the first period. For several minutes in the second period, the game could have been a runaway for the Eagles if not for solid goaltending by rookie Hunter Virostek.
Veteran Evan Tschumi finally got the Dragons on the board by scoring a power play goal late in the second period. At the end of two, the Dragons trailed 4-1.
In the third period the Dragons come out flying and scored two on goals by Taupert and forward Brett Campbell. The Dragons dominated most of the third period and had several key chances to tie the game at 4 apiece. However, with just under four minutes left the Eagles put the game away with a 5-3 win.
“I know that we are young but our players need to understand that they all belong in this league and when they understand that and grow together we will do some great things this season,” said Curran. “It is going to be a huge learning curve for the boys but they are great young men and are willing to work hard. How it is all of our jobs to get them to believe in themselves and in each other,” Curran continued. “The way we played in the third period is the type of hockey that I personally loved and I know [assistant coach] Darryl [Olsen] did too. The players are capable of such good things this season and I enjoy the growth I have seen but the players need to start demanding that of themselves as I know they will.”
The Dragons had Sunday off but are on the road again on Monday for a game against the Calgary Canucks. Nathan Crosby will have the call on 99.5 Drum Fm with pre-game show beginning at 6:45pm.
The Dragons home opener is Friday, September 23 at 7:30pm, and will be preceded by the annual Tailgate BBQ in the BCF parking lot from 5:00-7:00pm.
Photo courtesy of Pro Sports Photography