Last Thursday, the Drumheller Dragons embarked on their second and final big swing North where they played a 3-game weekend against Fort McMurray, Lloydminster and Bonnyville. Fort McMurray and Bonnyville are both ranked in the top 20 CJHL teams in the country, so the road trip was a great test for our young team.
The Dragons faced Fort McMurray on Friday in their third and final meeting of the season. In both their previous contests, it took a shootout and overtime for the Oil Barons to defeat the Dragons. We were definitely looking for redemption.
In the first period, the Dragons and the Oil Barons were both scoreless as the game started out like the previous two games we played them – it was physical and there wasn’t a lot of room for either team to do anything.
In the second period, the Oil Barons scored back to back goals to take a 2-0 lead. We called a time-out which allowed us to regroup, and we eventually tied the game on goals by Slater Dykema and Jordan Taupert. After that, both teams had great scoring chances but were unable to connect with the back of the net. We went into the second intermission tied 2-2.
Third period action saw both teams with great scoring chances again, but no one was able to capitalize. With just over 4 minutes left in the game the Dragons had probably the best scoring chance, but like the previous games, this one was destined once again for overtime.
Just over 2 minutes into overtime, Fort McMurray once again ended the game and walked away with the 3-2 win.
Overall, it was really no surprise to me that this game went into overtime, as both teams had great chances but were unable to score. I thought we played hard and battled all night and although we didn’t get the win we are certainly playing much better.
After the previous night’s tough overtime loss, we were on the road to Lloydminster on Saturday to play the Bobcats. The Bobcats are going through the “injury bug” like we did a few weeks ago, so they had a short bench. But we knew if we took them lightly it would be a long night for us.
The first period saw the Dragons playing like they were still on the bus as the Bobcats came out flying. If not for goaltender Dane Dow, the Dragons would have found themselves down quickly. The first period expired with neither team on the board.
The Dragons started to pick up the pace in the second period and Taupert would open up the scoring. The Bobcats, however, quickly answered back with a goal, but so did we as Troy Dudley scored his first of the year to make it 2-1 heading into the third period.
The Bobcats tied the game in the third period and it looked like we were heading into overtime again, but the Dragons took a penalty and Chad Hurtubise stole a pass and scored shorthanded on a breakaway with less than 3 minutes to go. We held onto the lead for the rest of the period and walked away with a 3-2 win.
I give the Bobcats credit as they played with a short bench but they worked their tails off. Overall, we played a very average game and caused a lot of poor turnovers that we were lucky the Bobcats didn’t capitalize on all of them. The Dragons need to be better prepared as a team and I hope we learned not to take a night off.
The Dragons’ final stop on their Northern road trip was in Bonnyville to take on the Pontiacs on Sunday afternoon. This would be a tough test for us as it was our third game in as many days.
The Dragons came out strong but the Pontiacs took our steam away scoring 3 minutes into the game. It took a few shifts after the goal but Hurtubise tied the game at 1 apiece for his second of the weekend. Hurtubise started the year with the Pontiacs but moved to Drumheller in a trade at the beginning of the season. Both teams traded scoring chances for the rest of the period but we went into the intermission tied 1-1.
In the second period, Bonnyville once again took the lead, but defenseman Andrew Kartusch tied the game with his first goal of the season before the second period expired.
In the third period, defenseman Blake Kleiner gave the Dragons the lead, but the Pontiacs responded by scoring their second shorthanded goal of the night and we were headed into overtime for the third time that weekend.
A couple minutes into overtime, the Dragons looked to have won the game when the puck hit Taupert’s skate and redirected into the net. However, the referee determined it was kicked in and waved off the goal. It did not deflate the Dragons, however, as we went on the powerplay and Hurtubise scored his second of the night to give us the 4-3 overtime win over the Pontiacs
I was very proud of the boys, as they worked hard and played well against a very good team. It was nice to see Hurtubise score against his old team which I know made him feel great. I’m happy for him and for the team. Overall it was a successful weekend with 5 out of 6 possible points.
Photo by Broken Curfew Photography