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AJHL Weekend Preview: October 4th-6th

October 4th, 2019 @ 9:06 am

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Bonnyville Pontiacs: 6-1-1 (3rd in the North Division)

Weekend Schedule: Saturday @ Lloydminster Bobcats

Only one game on the agenda for the Pontiacs this weekend following their midweek action against the Lloydminster Bobcats. Led by a Thomas Kramer hat trick, Bonnyville stayed hot with a 4-0 win over the Bobcats on home ice to extend their win streak to four games. They’ll look to continue that streak with a trip to Lloydminster on the cards for Saturday night. In three games, the Pontiacs have secured at least a point in each of their road trips this season.

Drayton Valley Thunder: 3-3-1 (5th in the North Division)

Weekend Schedule: Saturday vs Whitecourt Wolverines

Much like Bonnyville, Drayton Valley is only in action once this weekend with a home matchup against the Whitecourt Wolverines. After starting the season 0-3-1, the Thunder have been rolling as of late winning three games in a row. They showed great reliance against the Canmore Eagles fighting their way back from 3-0 to beat them 6-4. Their offence has played a significant role in their current streak having scored 13 goals over those three games with Jeremy Klessens leading the group with eight points. They’ll welcome the Wolverines to the Drayton Valley Omniplex for the first time this season on Saturday.

Fort McMurray Oil Barons: 2-4-1 (7th in the North Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Spruce Grove Saints, Saturday vs Spruce Grove Saints

Fort McMurray is heading into the weekend on a high note after a strong showing at the AJHL Showcase. With a shootout loss to the Brooks Bandits on Friday and then a shootout win on Saturday over the Camrose Kodiaks, they finally added some points to their total for the first time since opening night at the Casman Centre. The Oil Barons added a new face to their organization this week with the acquisition of Kyle Pow from the BCHL. Pow brings plenty of size to Fort McMurray roster standing at 6’6’ making him the tallest player on the team. He’s played in both the BCHL and WHL with 58 junior games to his name. His first test in the AJHL won’t be an easy one with the defending North Division champions, the Spruce Grove Saints, rolling into town.

Grande Prairie Storm: 5-3-0 (4th in the North Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Okotoks Oilers, Saturday @ Drumheller Dragons, Sunday @ Canmore Eagles

The Storm have a heavy workload with three games coming up against southern opponents. It all begins on Friday night at the Pason Centennial Arena to challenge the Oilers who are unbeaten in their two games on home ice. A trip to Drumheller then follows and wraps up with a visit to the rocky mountains for a game against the Canmore Eagles. Grande Prairie’s goaltenders have been outstanding to begin the year. Both Kaiden Lane and Lars Kaliel have each played in four games and have conceded only 15 goals. Each of them has a save percentage over .920 and a goals against average under 2.0. They could both be busy this weekend with the Oilers and Dragons being two of the best scoring teams in the AJHL.

Lloydminster Bobcats: 1-5-2 (8th in the North Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Whitecourt Wolverines, Saturday vs Bonnyville Pontiacs

Lloydminster opened up the AJHL Showcase with their first win of the season beating Olds 3-2. They followed that up with an overtime defeat by Drumheller the next day. Earlier this week, they made the short trip to Bonnyville but failed to score and lost 4-0. Despite the loss, Nigel Dube and his team have plenty to build off as they head home for a pair of games against the Wolverines and Pontiacs.

Sherwood Park Crusaders: 7-0-0 (1st in the North Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Canmore Eagles, Saturday @ Okotoks Oilers, Sunday @ Olds Grizzlys

Earlier this week, the Crusaders were ranked 2nd in the CJHL Top 20 Ranks after an impressive 7-0-0 start to the season. They came out on top twice in Camrose last weekend having to fight back from being down 5-4 to defeat the Okotoks Oilers 6-5 on Saturday afternoon. The first line of Carter Savoie, Arjun Atwal and Will Zapernick has been electrifying during the early portion of the season. The three them have combined for 51 points and sit one, two, and three in league scoring. They’ll be looking to continue their strong form as the Crusaders aim to stay perfect with three games against south division opponents coming up.

Spruce Grove Saints: 7-1-0 (2nd in the North Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Fort McMurray Oil Barons, Saturday @ Fort McMurray Oil Barons

Spruce Grove was handed their first loss of the season at the Showcase Weekend, falling 5-3 to the Brooks Bandits on Thursday night. They followed up that disappointing loss with a dominant 4-1 win over the Calgary Canucks with goals coming from Tanner Klassen, Cameron Chin, Ryan Peckford, and Zachary Douglas. Between the pipes, Matthew Davis has continued to prove why he is regarded as one of the best in the AJHL. He currently has a 2.15 GAA through six games along with a 0.909 SV%. Davis and the rest of the Saints head to Northern Alberta for the weekend for a couple of games against the Oil Barons.

Whitecourt Wolverines: 2-3-2 (6th in the North Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Lloydminster Bobcats, Saturday @ Drayton Valley Thunder

Since beating the Bonnyville Pontiacs in game two of the season, Shawn Martin’s Wolverines have managed to win only once in their previous five outings. Those two points came as recently as last Friday after beating the Calgary Canucks 4-2. Captain Adam Sandstrom grabbed the game-winner with just over eight minutes remaining for his first goal of the season. That was followed up with a narrow loss to the Pontiacs falling 2-1 on the final day of Showcase. They’ll be on the road this weekend with trips to Lloydminster and Drayton Valley on the books. The last time the Wolverines travelled to either of those arenas, they came away with maximum points.

Brooks Bandits: 6-0-0 (1st in the South Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Camrose Kodiaks, Saturday @ Olds Grizzlys

On Thursday night, the Bandits faced their toughest opposition of the season in the form of the undefeated Saints. After 60 minutes they were perfect no more with the Bandits coming out on top 5-3 wins, despite being down early in the first period. Special teams proved to be the difference with Brooks scoring all five of their goals on the powerplay. With the win, and then another one the next day over the Oil Barons, Brooks moved to 6-0-0 on the season as they head home for a game at the CRA and then go back on the road. The CRA has been a fortress over the last couple of seasons and faced with the challenge of taking two points away this weekend are the Kodiaks. On Saturday, Brooks takes on the Olds Grizzlys at the Olds Sportsplex.

Calgary Canucks: 1-6-1 (7th in the South Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Drumheller Dragons, Saturday vs Camrose Kodiaks

Calgary came up just short of grabbing a point on Tuesday night against the Oilers; however, Dylan James ruined those hopes scoring his second of the season with just under two minutes left in the third. Despite only having one win, Calgary has plenty of to take away from their start to the season. This weekend they’ll look to add a couple more with games coming up against the Drumheller Dragons and the Camrose Kodiaks.  Firstly, they take a trip to Drumheller to face off against the Dragons on Friday night. That will be followed by a ride back home to challenge the Kodiaks on Saturday night.

Camrose Kodiaks: 2-3-2 (4th in the South Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Brooks Bandits, Saturday @ Calgary Canucks

Camrose has been on a tough stretch as of late finding themselves on the wrong side of a trio of one goal games. They’ll be hoping their fortunes turn around when they hit the road for a pair of games against the Brooks Bandits and the Calgary Canucks. Cody Laskosky will be one player in particular that Head Coach Clayton Jardine will be looking at to make a difference. Laskosky has been in fine form to begin the season scoring in each of seven games for a total of 16 points (9 goals, 7 assists). The Kodiaks and the Bandits have met once before this season. On that occasion, Brooks prevailed as the winners beating the Kodiaks 6-4 at the Encana Arena. Saturday will be the first time they face the Canucks.

Canmore Eagles: 2-4-0 (5th in the South Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Sherwood Park Crusaders, Sunday vs Grande Prairie Storm

Showcase weekend wasn’t kind to the Eagles. Despite leading in both of their games, Canmore failed to come away with any points and conceded 12 goals over the two games. The bounce-back attempt begins on Friday night with the Sherwood Park Crusaders in town for their lone visit of the season. Goals typically occur when the two meet so fans should be in for a treat in this contest. They take Saturday off before welcoming the Storm to town. The Eagles have recent history against the Storm who beat them 6-3 last weekend in Camrose.

Drumheller Dragons: 3-2-2 (3rd in the South Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Calgary Canucks, Saturday vs Grande Prairie Storm

It’s been a season of ups and downs to start for the Dragons. They’ve been close to coming out on top in all seven games falling twice in overtime to the Olds Grizzlys and the Brooks Bandits. The Dragons are coming off a win in overtime last weekend against the Lloydminster Bobcats. Captain Derrick Budz came in clutch for his team scoring at the 2:27 mark for his first of the year. The Drumheller Memorial Arena will be busy this weekend with the Calgary Canucks and Grande Prairie Storm visiting. The Dragons are yet to face either of those teams.

Okotoks Oilers: 5-2-0 (2nd in the South Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Grande Prairie Storm, Saturday vs Sherwood Park Crusaders

It’s an identical schedule for the Oilers this weekend as last. Last weekend, Okotoks took on both the Grande Prairie Storm and Sherwood Park Crusaders at Showcase. They split those two games with a win over Grande Prairie on Friday and then falling to Sherwood Park on Saturday afternoon late in the third period. Earlier this week, Okotoks made the short trip to Calgary to face the Canucks. Thanks to a late Dylan James goal they managed to come out on top with a 3-2 victory. They’ll be hoping to continue that momentum heading into their two home fixtures.

Olds Grizzlys: 2-5-0 (6th in the South Division)

Weekend Schedule: Saturday vs Brooks Bandits, Sunday vs Sherwood Park Crusaders

General Manager and Head Coach, Joe Murphy had a busy week bringing in a couple of new faces to bolster the Olds lineup. A pair of forwards in Zafir Rawji (Sherwood Park Crusaders) and Bryce Ospechuk (Grande Prairie Storm) will suit up in black and yellow this weekend for a couple of games on home ice. It couldn’t be a more challenging set of games for the Grizzlys, however, with the two undefeated teams, Brooks Bandits and Sherwood Park Crusaders, pulling into the Olds Sportsplex.

 

Story by Liam Horrobin

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