AJHL Weekend Preview: February 22nd-24th, 2019

We’ll start with the battle for the seventh, and final playoff spot in the South Division between the Calgary Canucks and the Olds Grizzlys. The Canucks hold a four-point lead over the Grizzlys in seventh with three games left in their schedule while Olds holds a game in hand. Each team is in action once this weekend with both games falling on Saturday night. Calgary couldn’t be facing a hotter team right now with the Brooks Bandits making the trip to the Ken Bracko Arena. The Bandits recently broke the AJHL record for the longest win streak with their 29 wins in a row. While on the streak, Brooks has played the Canucks three times all back in November. In those three games, Calgary went 0-3-0 and was outscored 21-4. As the for the Grizzlys, the Drumheller Dragons host the South Division's bottom team at the Drumheller Memorial Arena. However, one of the Grizzlys' six victories this season did come against the Dragons back on December 11th in a 4-3 overtime game in Drumheller. A late third-period goal and then an overtime winner from Lukas Jirousek got the Grizzlys by for a huge victory. 

Drumheller’s weekend, however, begins on Friday night on the road against their South Division rivals the Canmore Eagles. The Dragons are on a great streak putting together five in a row including a 7-3 win over the Eagles on February 10th in what was a heated contest. Canmore, on the other hand, only has a single victory in their last five which came on Family Day Monday when they beat the Okotoks Oilers 3-2 on home ice. In their previous five meetings, the Dragons have a 4-1-0 record versus the Eagles with two of those wins coming in overtime. Staying in the South, the Bandits weekend also gets underway on Friday night on home ice when the Camrose Kodiaks roll into town. The Kodiaks are coming off a well-fought victory on Monday against the Sherwood Park Crusaders coming out 2-0 winners on the road. The Bandits are sweeping the season series so far with five with out of five. A win for the Kodiaks could pull them within two points of the Dragons in third – depending on results.

Camrose continues their weekend road trip on Saturday night versus the Okotoks Oilers. The Oilers entered February on a 12-game win streak but haven’t won back-to-back games since the start of the month. Despite the dip in production, they still hold sole possession of second in the South Division with 76 points (six points ahead of the Dragons in third). This will be the final meeting between Camrose and Okotos with the Oilers having the upper hand in the season series beating them three out of five games. Before their Saturday night game, the Oilers welcome the Calgary Mustangs to the Pason Centennial Arena on Friday. The Mustangs are in hot pursuit of the Kodiaks for fourth in the South Division and the final home-ice advantage spot for the playoffs. They trail them by four points with four games left to play.

Moving up to Northern Alberta, the Bonnyville Pontiacs look to extend their lead over the Sherwood Park Crusaders for first in the North Division with two games against the Grande Prairie Storm. The two games between the Pontiacs and Storm take place at the Revolution Arena where they’ve met just once this season. That game came way back on December 19th and on that night Bonnyville walked out of Revolution Place 4-2 winners thanks to a game-winning goal from Trey Thomas. Grande Prairie will be looking to make a final push for fourth and gain on the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, who they trail by five points with four games to go. The Pontiacs have beaten the Storm in their four meetings this season. Grayson Constable will also be looking to extend his 11 game point streak this weekend. Another doubleheader going on this weekend includes the Oil Barons. Whitecourt makes the trip to the Casman Centre for games on Friday and Saturday. The Wolverines head into Friday’s game coming off a 4-2 victory over the Storm last Saturday night on home ice which was their first win since late January. As for the Oil Barons, they had a fantastic weekend last defeating the Bonnyville Pontiacs in back-to-back contests at the Casman Centre scoring four goals in both competitions. Both the Wolverines and Oil Barons seem to be all but locked into their playoff seedings as they head into their final few games.

Also in action, this weekend is the Sherwood Park Crusaders. The Crusaders suffered a setback in their pursuit of the Pontiacs in first with a 2-0 loss to the Kodiaks on Monday on home ice. They’ll look to get back on track Friday on the road against the Lloydminster Bobcats in what will be both Zach Kaiser and Reid Irwin’s first game versus their former club. Sherwood Park has handled to the Bobcats well this season beating them in all five games. They then get back in front of their home crowd the following night when MVP finalist Luke Lush and his Drayton Valley Thunder travel to the Sherwood Park Arena. Coincidentally, the Thunder and Bobcats also take on the Spruce Grove Saints this weekend both home and away. First, Drayton Valley travels to the Grant Fuhr Arena on Friday night as they look to gain momentum as they head into the pos-tseason. Then, to close out the weekend, the Bobcats and Saints go back-to-back both in Lloydminster and Spruce Grove. Their Saturday night affair is rescheduled game from December 29th, 2018, which was initially postponed due to the weather. 

There are plenty of exciting games on the card for this weekend so be sure to go out and support your local AJHL team!

Liam Horrobin