Written by Coach Curran
The Drumheller Dragons headed north on their first big road trip of the year over the weekend, facing Grande Prairie Storm on Friday, Drayton Valley Thunder on Saturday, and Whitecourt Wolverines on Sunday.
The first stop in Grand Prairie we faced the much improved Storm, and although the Dragons beat them 5-1 the previous weekend at home, the Storm were on their southern road trip at the time and it was their third game in 3 days. Needless to say, this was a much tighter contest in Grande Prairie.
The first period we came out slowly, but after the 10-minute mark of the first we found our legs. Despite this, we found ourselves down 2-1 after the first period with the lone goal by Jordan Taupert.
In the second period the Dragons took the 3-2 lead on goals by Brayden Nicholetts and Slater Dykema. It was a much better period for us, and after allowing two power-play goals in the first period we were much better in the second period killing off several penalties and keeping the score 3-2 going into the second intermission.
Third period action saw lots of scoring chances for both teams but goaltender Hunter Virostek and the Grande Prairie goaltender Arik Weersink both played well to keep their respective teams in the game. However, late in the period, Evan Tschumi gave the Dragons a 4-2 lead and we went on to win the game despite the Storm pulling their goalie.
Although we started out slow, we played a much better game after the first 10 minutes. This is a very important trip for our time and we needed to win the first game. The boys deserved their win and as a group we are starting to believe in each other
The Dragons last played the Thunder at the AJHL Showcase in Camrose where we were very fortunate to win in a shootout. That being said, we are a much better team than we were then, but I think the same can be said for Drayton Valley.
The first period was very fast-paced with both teams trading scoring chances. But Hunter Virostek, who was playing his second game in a row, and Thunder goaltender Joseph McLeod both played incredibly well and kept the teams scoreless after the first period.
In the second period, Evan Rochowiak would start the scoring for the Dragons but the Thunder answered right back and at the end of two periods the game was tied at 1.
Defenseman Blake Kleiner scored just over 7 minutes into the third period on a power play to give the Dragons the lead. But the Thunder answered again when they pulled their goalie and scored with the extra attacker on a lucky bounce that went off a Dragons player and into the net.
The two teams headed into overtime, and on the first shift defenseman Bradley Stonnell blocked a shot and garnered a breakaway, scoring only 15 seconds into the extra frame – the second fastest overtime win in Dragons history.
This was a big win for us and for the players’ confidence. It was a hard fought, physical game and both teams played well.
There is no question the Wolverines are a good hockey club and when we last saw each other, they outplayed the Dragons and took the game 3-2. This game would be a good test to see how much the Dragons have grown at this point in the season.
Both the Dragons and Whitecourt game out in the first period looking tired, as we both were playing our third game in as many days. The Wolverines lead 2-0 after the first period, then scored one goal in each of the consecutive periods to win the game 4-0.
It wasn’t a very physical game as there were no penalties for either team, which also made it a weird game to watch. We played decent but in order for us to win we need to stick with our structure and not play disconnected. When we got down we tried to do things as individuals and we already know that does not work. We played a much better third period but made several mistakes that cost us and we couldn’t get on the scoreboard.
Overall, this was a successful road trip for us as we got 4 out of 6 points. We have come a long way in the last two months.
Photo by Broken Curfew Photography