The Dragons faced two tough teams from the North Division this past weekend in Drumheller. First up were the Fort McMurray Oil Barons on Saturday night, who are off to a great start this season, and then on Sunday we faced the Grande Prairie Storm who are also playing very good hockey so far this season.
The Dragons and the Oil barons played each other for the second time in two weeks, last seeing each other at the AJHL Showcase in Camrose at the beginning of the month, where the Oil Barons took the win in a shootout.
Saturday night’s game started off with high energy, a fast pace, and with both teams playing tough defence. But it was the Oil Barons who would strike first on Dragons goaltender Dane Dow, and at the end of the first period they had the 1-0 lead.
In the second period, the Dragons really picked up the pace, and on goals by Joren Patenaude and Brady Risk we took a 2-1 lead partway through the period. However, several minutes later the Oil Barons tied the game and we went into the second intermission with two goals each.
The Oil Barons took the lead early in the third period and continued to push hard on the Dragons, but strong goaltending by Dow settled the team down. Halfway through the third, defenseman Blake Kleiner tied the game at 3. The Dragons had a great opportunity to win the game with just over two minutes left, but Oil Barons goaltender Forbes Ploszaj made a huge save to keep the game tied when the buzzer went.
Overtime was back and forth action, but the Dragons took a penalty and the Oil Barons capitalized to win 4-3 on the power play.
Overall, I thought both teams put on a great show for all the fans on Saturday and the game could have gone either way. But I am watching our team grow every game and it was great to see us play strong for 60 minutes.
In a quick turnaround, the Dragons hosted the Grande Prairie Storm on Sunday afternoon, a mere 16 hours after the end of the previous night’s game. We were looking to get the win before heading on our northern road trip next weekend. And the Storm, who lost the night before in Brooks, were looking to get a win before they headed home.
The Dragons had to pressure the Storm right from the start as this was the Storm's third game in three days, and we wanted to take advantage of any fatigue. We came out strong on goals by Bradley Stonnell and Slater Dykema. After the first period we lead 2-0, while receiving solid goaltending from Hunter Virostek.
Less than two minutes into the second period, Evan Rochowiak made it 3-0, but the Storm answered back to make it 3-1 with about 5 minutes remaining in the period. However, the Dragons were not finished yet, with Bradley Stonnell scoring his second of the night, and Evan Tschumi scoring a shorthanded breakaway goal that the linesman had to call because the referee was still catching up. We went into the second intermission leading 5-1.
Joren Patenaude had the only goal in the third period, in which he missed on a breakaway but was able to put away his own rebound, to give the Dragons a 6-1 victory.
I knew that the Storm were a much better team than last year and were off to a good start this season. So what I wanted to see was for us to build upon the performance from the night before, and play solid for the whole 60 minutes, and for the most part I think we did. We are growing and I am seeing some very positive signs that we are heading in the right direction.
Photo by Broken Curfew Photography