At one point in the season, Drayton Valley was three games above the .500 mark. Then 10 straight losses later and the Thunder find themselves spinning out of control, looking to put an end to their double digit streak.
Unfortunately, they have the toughest schedule of games of the weekend, as Friday night they kick things off against the Camrose Kodiaks, the top team in the AJHL, and then follow it up on Saturday with a home game with Brooks, the third best team in the league.
It's simply going to be a tough weekend to break a streak.
And while a Friday night loss by the Thunder would put their streak at 11, it would move the Kodiaks into double digits for their own streak, as Camrose enters the weekend having won their last nine games. On Saturday they take on Olds, and could finish the weekend with an 11 game streak of their own – in the right direction.
The AJHL's other hot team right now, the Spruce Grove Saints, are the first meeting of the weekend for the Brooks Bandits, as the league's second- and third-best teams compete on Friday night. The Saints have their own eight game winning streak on the line, and an 11 point lead on the Lloydminster Bobcats in the North Division.
Three very long active streaks in the AJHL, and all three could continue beyond this weekend – for good, or for bad.
In the AJHL North Division, separation is starting to take place amongst the ranks. While Spruce is in command of top spot, the battle for second is heating up, as Lloydminster, Sherwood Park and Fort McMurray are within three points of each other, with the Bobcats out in front.
Lloydminster will get a little help this weekend in the second place race, as the Crusaders and Oil Barons battle each other in Fort McMurray this weekend, while the Bobcats welcome Drumheller on Friday before playing the only scheduled game in the AJHL on Sunday against the league's last place team, the Calgary Mustangs. For Sherwood Park or Fort McMurray, a successful sweep of the weekend could make it a two team race, or put them in the second place spot should the Bobcats falter.
Another double header in the AJHL's North Division sees the Whitecourt Wolverines head to Grande Prairie for two games. Whitecourt sits in the bottom of the division, four points out of the last playoff spot that is currently held by the Storm. With a three game losing skid on their backs, Whitecourt could drop themselves back to eight points out of a playoff spot with a disastrous weekend, or find themselves in the seventh spot. With two games in hand on the Storm, the Wolverines are looking to final crawl out of the basement.
The South Divisions hosts three of the top four teams in the league, and the fourth place Okotoks Oilers are aiming at a second place position this weekend. Just two points back of Brooks, The Oilers host the Olds Grizzlys and Calgary Canucks this weekend. Both teams are coming in having lost their previous game, and are in the bottom half of the division. It's a tough weekend for the Grizzlys who will have to take on Camrose Saturday night, while the Canucks are in Canmore Friday.
There is a lot of movement that could happen in the AJHL this weekend, as all teams have crossed the halfway mark of their season, and now think playoffs and seeding.
by Andrew Brethauer