AJHL Weekend Preview: December 20-22

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While Christmas is less than a week away, there?s still plenty of games across the AJHL to be played before thoughts can shift to turkey dinners and presents under the tree.  It?s the season of giving, but surely everything will be earned this weekend.  Several key divisional matchups and a hefty road trip for a North team hold the promise of entering the brief break with plenty of positives.

Bonnyville Pontiacs
3rd AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Bobcats; Saturday @ Crusaders

The Bonnyville Pontiacs have been handing opponents hearty lumps of coal as of late and have the opportunity to extend their four-game win streak this weekend when they host the Lloydminster Bobcats and visit the Sherwood Park Crusaders.  Lucas Thorne (19-33-52) and Matthew McKim (13-36-49) have been among the best offensive duos in the league during the first half of the season, while Daine Dubois also has 19 goals and is on a point-per-game pace.  Thorne will try to get back on the scoresheet after a tremendous seven game point streak (16 points) came to an end earlier this week against the Oil Barons.

Brooks Bandits
1st AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Storm; Saturday vs Eagles

The Brooks Bandits will wrap up their pre-Christmas schedule with a pair of home dates against the Grande Prairie Storm and the Canmore Eagles.  The Bandits are still the class of the league with just one regulation loss all year and remain perfect at home, going a perfect 16-0 so far.  The Bandits offence, always notable, has been unbelievably dangerous during the most recent three wins of a nine game win streak scoring 27 times.  The defence has been equally impressive, as the Bandits held opponents to a pair of goals in those same games, including two shutouts. 

Calgary Canucks
7th AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Saturday vs Kodiaks; Sunday vs Storm

The Calgary Canucks have dropped four straight after a 6-5 shootout victory over the Olds Grizzlys on December 6th and will look to wrap up the Kodiaks and Storm before taking some days off for Christmas.  The Canucks have struggled against the Kodiaks so far in 2019-2020, losing all four meetings, while they have yet to face the Storm this season. 

Camrose Kodiaks
4th AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Eagles; Saturday @ Canucks

After winning four of five to start December, the Kodiaks offence has slowed in back to back losses to the Sherwood Park Crusaders (4-1) and Fort McMurray Oil Barons (3-0).  The Kodiaks will look to make the goal light behind opposing netminders worthy of leading Santa?s sleigh this weekend when they visit the Eagles and the Canucks.  In eight games between both Canmore and Calgary, the Kodiaks have scored 39 goals and will hope their ability to solve these two division rivals helps them get back into the win column. 

Canmore Eagles
5th AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Kodiaks; Saturday @ Bandits

Much like their opponent on Friday night, the Canmore Eagles have had a strong December.  They?ve won 4 of 6 in the month, including their last two.  Forwards Alex Young (recently tabbed to participate in the CJHL Top Prospects Game in Hamilton) and Conor Lyons have lead the way for Canmore this season, with 48 and 53 points respectively.  Lyons has points in 10 of his last 11, while Young has 12 points in his last 8 games. 

Drayton Valley Thunder
T-6th AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: No Games

The Drayton Valley Thunder don?t have any games on the docket this weekend, but will certainly have visions of sugarplums to savour after a gutsy 5-2 win over the Spruce Grove Saints this week ended a three game slide.   The Thunder return to action on December 28th and 29th in Fort McMurray.

Drumheller Dragons
3rd AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Grizzlys

After a four-game losing streak, the Dragons are breathing fire once again with a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Canucks and a 5-2 decision over the Canmore Eagles last weekend.  Before the badlands are visited by Santa Claus, the Olds Grizzlys will head into the dragon?s den for Drumheller?s lone matchup of the weekend.  The Dragons will try to even things up with Olds this season, having lost two of three meetings.

Fort McMurray Oil Barons
5th AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: No Games

The Fort McMurray Oil Barons have finished their Christmas shopping early this year, with no games scheduled this weekend.  Defenceman Kabore Dunn (5-15-20) will skate in the CJHL Top Prospects Game in Hamilton next month.   The Oil Barons return to the ice on December 28th and 29th versus Drayton Valley.

Grande Prairie Storm
T-6th AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Bandits; Saturday @ Grizzlys; Sunday @ Canucks

Newly minted Storm head coach Ryan Aasman is off to a 1-0 start in his junior coaching career, with the Storm scoring with less than 20 seconds remaining to take a 3-2 decision against the Whitecourt Wolverines.  Aasman?s second career head coaching assignment is preparing his charges for the Brooks Bandits, who are undefeated at home this season, before making stops in Olds and Calgary over a pre-Christmas southern road trip. 

Lloydminster Bobcats
8th AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Pontiacs; Sunday vs Crusaders

The Bobcats are 2-4 through six games in December, including last weekend?s split with a 3-1 win over the Wolverines followed up with a 6-1 setback against Grande Prairie.  Their last on-ice action before Christmas is certainly a challenge, with a road game in Bonnyville on Friday leading into a Sunday showdown against the North Division leading Sherwood Park Crusaders. 

Okotoks Oilers
2nd AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: No Games

The Okotoks Oilers head into their Christmas break behind only the Brooks Bandits in the AJHL South.  After an 0-2 road trip to the Edmonton Metropolitan Region included losses in Spruce Grove and Sherwood Park, the Oilers downed the Olds Grizzlys 6-1 on Saturday.  The Oilers will restart after the Holiday break with a game in Olds on December 29th.  In the New Year, forward Brayden Morrison will head to Hamilton for the CJHL Top Prospects Game. 

Olds Grizzlys
6th AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Dragons; Saturday vs Storm

The Olds Grizzlys are looking for their first win in December and will try for it on Friday when they visit the Drumheller Dragons.  Olds has won two of three against the Dragons this season.  On Saturday, the Grizzlys will return home to play the Grande Prairie Storm for the first time this season.  After being shutout twice in three games, the Grizzlys were able to regain their offensive touch in a seesaw affair against the Eagles on Tuesday, nearly coming back from a three-goal deficit. 

Sherwood Park Crusaders
1st AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Saturday vs Pontiacs; Sunday @ Bobcats

Despite missing some key contributors to Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge, the Sherwood Park Crusaders kept on rolling by winning five in a row after opening December with a 5-4 loss in Bonnyville.  This weekend, the Crusaders will have a chance to avenge their lone loss of the month when the Pontiacs come calling on Friday night before heading to Lloydminster on Sunday.  In the New Year, the Crusaders will once again loan out talen temporarily as defenceman Michael Benning and forward Carter Savoie will take part in the CJHL Top Prospects Game next month. 

Spruce Grove Saints
2nd AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Wolverines; Saturday @ Wolverines

The Spruce Grove Saints have gone 3-3 throughout December so far and will look to a holiday home-and-home with the Whitecourt Wolverines to provide valuable points in gaining ground on the first place Crusaders.  The Saints have dropped two straight following a big win over the Okotoks Oilers but are 2-0 against the Wolverines so far this year. The Saints will be sending a trio of players to the CJHL Top Prospects Game: forwards Graham Gamache and Stanley Cooley will be joined by defenceman Ethan Edwards.  

Whitecourt Wolverines
4th AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Saints; Saturday vs Saints

The Whitecourt Wolverines will look for their first win against Spruce Grove Saints this weekend in a home-and-home series.  Whitecourt has lost three straight games, including a heartbreaker in Grande Prairie on Tuesday when the Storm scored with 19 seconds left in regulation to take a 3-2 win.