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It?s Valentine?s Day on Friday and a long weekend, but there will be no love lost on the ice this weekend in the AJHL as the final games of the season have massive implications across the League. First place in the South has yet to be decided, while the shuffling of the deck in the North will see a few more hands dealt before playoff time. Here?s how it lines up for each AJHL team this weekend.
4th AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Sunday @ Saints; Monday @ Thunder
The Bonnyville Pontiacs have back-to-back road games at the tail end of the long weekend as they visit the Sprue Grove Saints and the Drayton Valley Thunder. The Pontiacs lost to the Saints on home ice 6-4 on Wednesday, which was their third in a row, and will look to exact a pound of flesh at the Grant Fuhr Arena. Special teams were a major factor earlier in the week, with the Pontiacs scoring on half of their six power plays but only killing off four of the Saints? seven opportunities. Dane Dubois has assists in 6 straight games, and goals in his last two contests.
2nd AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Oilers; Saturday @ Eagles; Monday vs Kodiaks
Although they are just 4-6-0 in their last 10 outings, the Brooks Bandits have reeled off consecutive victories, skating past the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and Whitecourt Wolverines last weekend. Trailing the Okotoks Oilers by 5 points with a game in hand, their Valentine?s Day meeting at the CRA is set to be one of the signature clashes during the final weeks of the AJHL?s regular season. Brooks will look to even up the season series at three games a piece before they head out on the road to visit the Canmore Eagles Saturday and zip back to Brooks to face the Kodiaks on Family Day. Randy Hernandez continues to find the back of the net for the Bandits, scoring in his last four games.
7th AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Storm; Saturday @ Wolverines; Sunday @ Thunder
The season could very well hang in the balance for the Calgary Canucks as they embark on a three-in-three road trip over the Family Day Long weekend. Starting off Friday night in Grande Prairie, the Canucks will begin to chisel away at the 8-point deficit separating them from the Olds Grizzlys and the final playoff spot in the AJHL South. The Canucks will also make stops in Whitecourt and Drayton Valley to close out the weekend. The Canucks are 1-2 so far in February.
4th AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Grizzlys; Saturday vs Grizzlys; Monday @ Bandits
The Camrose Kodiaks will begin the long weekend with a home-and-home in the Battle of the Bears, facing the Olds Grizzlys twice before finishing on Family Day in Brooks against the Bandits. Camrose is comfortably situated in 4th in the AJHL South, with the Dragons 12 points ahead, while the Eagles are 9 points behind. Cody Laskosky is the hottest goal scorer in the league right now, with goals in his last seven and points in nine straight games overall.
5th AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Dragons; Saturday vs Bandits; Monday vs Dragons
The Canmore Eagles are served up a Drumheller Dragons sandwich this weekend, with Valentine?s Day and Family Day games bookending a Saturday tilt against the Brooks Bandits. Although coming off a loss against the Oilers, the Eagles are an impressive 7-3 in their last ten games and trail the Kodiaks by 9 points for 4th in the South with a game in hand. Alex Young?s point streak has hit double digits, as one of the league?s most consistent offensive stars has 24 points in his last 10 games.
Drayton Valley Thunder
5th AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Sunday vs Canucks; Monday vs Pontiacs
The Drayton Valley Thunder will spend the long weekend at home, hosting the Calgary Canucks on Sunday¬¬ and the Bonnyville Pontiacs on Monday. The Thunder also appear to be a team locked into their seed in the standings, though a win over Bonnyville could change this as the Thunder trail the ?Yaks by 9 points with a game in hand. The Thunder have won three of their last four, with each victory being picked up against the Grande Prairie Storm.
3rd AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Eagles; Saturday @ Oilers; Monday @ Eagles
There will be no love lost this weekend between the Dragons and the Canmore Eagles, as the South Division rivals will play twice ? in Drumheller on Valentine?s Day and in Canmore on Family Day. It?s a perfect February so far for the Dragons at 3-0 and they?re the hottest team in the AJHL right now with a six-game win streak. Eric Martin has been a key contributor during the streak, scoring at a torrid pace with points in 15 straight games ? including an eye-popping six point outing against Olds on Sunday.
Fort McMurray Oil Barons
7th AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Crusaders; Saturday vs Bobcats
The Fort McMurray Oil Barons will hope the love of their fans will be enough to snap a three-game losing streak when they open up their weekend against the division leading Sherwood Park Crusaders. The MOB have yet to strike oil against the Cru in five previous games this season. On Saturday, the Oil Barons will close out their weekend against the Lloydminster Bobcats, where they hold a decisive season series lead at 4-0-1 through five games.
Grande Prairie Storm
6th AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Canucks
The Grande Prairie Storm have just a single game on their slate this long weekend, as they host the Calgary Canucks tonight. The Storm are searching for their first win in February, currently at 0-5-1, and their first win since January 22. The Storm are 1-0 against Calgary this season. However, despite their slide, the Storm know that a strong finish to their season will go a long way as they?ve secured a playoff spot and entering the post-season in stride can only be beneficial.
8th AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Saturday @ Oil Barons; Monday @ Crusaders
The Lloydminster Bobcats are playing loose hockey and are on a two-game winning streak, with the latest win a 5-2 defeat over one of the best teams in Junior A hockey in the Sherwood Park Crusaders. The Wednesday victory was highlighted by a sensational performance by goaltender Garrett Larsen, who made 51 saves in the ?Cats win. Lloydminster will try to extend their win streak on the road this weekend in Fort McMurray and in a rematch with the Crusaders in Sherwood Park on Monday.
1st AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Bandits; Saturday vs Dragons
The Okotoks Oilers have been an absolute juggernaut in 2020, and the surge has vaulted them past the Brooks Bandits for 1st in the AJHL South. While the top two teams in the division get a first round playoff bye this year, the difference between first and second still has quite a bit of clout considering it could factor in to determining home ice advantage in a pivotal playoff series. The Oilers can take a big step towards locking that up this weekend when they visit their archrivals in Brooks tonight, before facing another stiff test at home on Saturday when they welcome the Drumheller Dragons. Jack Works is leading the way right now for the Oilers, with goals in four straight and points in his last dozen.
6th AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Kodiaks: Saturday @ Kodiaks
The Olds Grizzlys are on pace for a playoff berth for the first time since 2017, currently holding an 8-point gap on the Calgary Canucks for the final spot in the South with a game in hand. While promising, it?s not yet guaranteed so this long weekend is of pivotal importance for a Grizzlys team, which has already posted 11 more points than last season. The Grizzlys have a home-and-home with the Camrose Kodiaks this weekend, starting in Olds on Friday night and continuing in Camrose on Saturday.
Sherwood Park Crusaders
1st AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Oil Barons; Monday vs Bobcats
The Sherwood Park Crusaders have an 8-point lead over their cross-region rival, the Spruce Grove Saints, for first in the AJHL North with a game in hand, but are coming off a loss to the Lloydminster Bobcats on Wednesday. The setback snapped a five-game win streak and the Crusaders will look to get back in the win column on the road in Fort McMurray on Friday. On Family Day, the Crusaders return home for a shot at redemption against the Bobcats. As the season winds down, a pair of Crusaders are chasing significant milestones: Arjun Atwal is just five points shy of 100 points on the season while linemate Carter Savoie needs only two more goals to hit the 50-goal plateau. Both seem likely to do it, maybe even this weekend, as Atwal is on an AJHL-high 16-game point streak and Savoie has eight goals in his last eight games.
Spruce Grove Saints
2nd AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Sunday vs Pontiacs; Monday @ Wolverines
The Spruce Grove Saints are coming off an eventful 6-4 road win over the Bonnyville Pontiacs on Wednesday, their fourth straight. The Saints won?t have to wait too long for a rematch, as the ?Yaks will be at the Grant Fuhr Arena on Sunday afternoon. The Saints will also visit the Whitecourt Wolverines for a Family Day matinee. The Saints can still mathematically secure first in the division, but will there is no room for error making this weekend?s pair of games very important during the final stretch.
3rd AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Saturday vs Canucks; Monday vs Saints
The Whitecourt Wolverines are playing some of their best hockey of the season right now, going 8-1-1 in their last ten games with the only regulation setback a 4-3 loss to the Brooks Bandits last weekend. The stretch has seen the Wolverines force their way past the Pontiacs for 3rd in the North with a one point edge and two games in hand. This weekend, the Wolverines will look to widen the gap with games at home against the Calgary Canucks Saturday and the Spruce Grove Saints on Family Day.