AJHL Weekend Preview: November 18-20th

Photo – Target Photography:

A busy weekend in the AJHL that will see 14 games played on Friday and Saturday with Sunday being an off day for everyone. The North is looking more and more like it will be a four team race for top spot between Whitecourt, Fort McMurray, Bonnyville and Spruce Grove. Meanwhile, in the South, the Brooks Bandits and Calgary Canucks have started to open up a gap on the rest of the division leading Okotoks, Canmore, and Camrose by six points for the top two spots in the division.

Bonnyville Pontiacs (17-5-3  37 pts) tied for 2nd in the North

Last week: 11-3 win (Nov 12th) vs. Mustangs, 4-3 OTL (Nov 13th) vs. Drumheller, 7-2 win (Nov 15th) vs. Spruce Grove

Scheduled this weekend: Friday vs. Calgary Canucks, Saturday vs. Canmore

The Pontiacs continue their season high seven game home stand this weekend with a pair of games against South. Bonnyville is currently 2-1-1 on their home stand, PJ Marrocco has led the team on the homestand with eight points in four games bringing him up to 29 points in 25 games this season. Brandon Whistle also has 29 points while Derek Brown leads the team with 34 points in 25 games. In goal Robert Jacobson remains unbeaten with a 4-0-1 record, 2.40 GAA and 0.907 save% while Sandro Silvestre is 3-4-2 record, 2.51 GAA and 0.895 save%. Special teams have been great for the Pontiacs this season ranked #1 on the power play with a 29.17% while their penalty kill is 7th killing off 82.93% of their shorthanded opportunities.

Drayton Valley Thunder (4-14-4 12 pts) 7th in the North

Last week: 7-2 loss (Nov 12th) @ Fort McMurray, 5-2 loss (Nov 13th) @ Sherwood Park, 2-1 win (Nov 17th) vs. Olds

Scheduled this weekend: Friday @ Fort McMurray, Saturday @ Fort McMurray

Drayton Valley will try and carry some momentum from snapping their six game losing streak on Thursday. The Oil Barons hammered Drayton Valley 7-2 in their only other meeting this season. Offensively the Thunder are led by Michael Doneff who has 16 points in 21 games, Rhett Willcox has 13 points and Nolan Krewusik has 12 points in 23 games. In goal, Joseph McLeod is 4-9-3 with a 4.14 GAA and 0.887 save% while Parker Tobin is 0-5-1 with a 4.65 GAA and 0.863 save%. The power play hasn't been the friendliest to the Thunder who are 12/88 (13.64%) which has them ranked 13th in the AJHL while their penalty kill is last going 63/90 (70.00) so far this season.

Fort McMurray Oil Barons (18-4-1 37 pts) tied for 2nd in the North

Last week: 3-2 win (Nov 11st) vs. Drumheller, 7-2 win (Nov 12th) vs. Drayton Valley

Scheduled this weekend: Friday vs. Drayton Valley, Saturday vs. Drayton Valley

Fort McMurray will play their final two games on their five game homestand this weekend when they welcome the Drayton Valley Thunder to the Casman Center. Will Conley leads the team with 7 points in the last three games. Conley is tied with Brandon Ralph for second on the team in points with 19 while Ryan Cox leads the team with 26 points in 23 games this season. Between the pipes, Forbes Ploszaj is 9-1 with a 2.45 GAA and 0.919 save% while Eric Szudor is 9-3-1 with a 1.80 GAA and 0.933 save%. On the power play the Oil Barons are 2nd in the league with a 27.71% (23/83) conversion rate, On the penalty kill Fort McMurray is also 2nd with an 87.95% (73/83) kill rate, Only Spruce Grove (8) has given up fewer goals on the penalty kill.

Grande Prairie Storm (6-13-4 16 pts) 6th in the North

Last week: 5-3 loss (Nov 11th) @ Spruce Grove, 5-1 loss (Nov 12th) @ Camrose, 6-0 loss (Nov 15th) @ Whitecourt

Scheduled this weekend: Friday vs. Brooks, Saturday vs. Okotoks

Grande Prairie will be looking to snap a six game losing streak and earn their first win of November when they host a pair of teams from the south. Brooks defeated Grande Prairie 4-2 in their only meeting of the season in Brooks on October 15th. Michael Clarke leads the team with 22 points, newly acquired Tristan Paquette is second with 14 points. Between the pipes, Arik Weersink has gotten the majority of the starts and is 4-6-3 with a 3.34 GAA and 0.900 save% Xavier Burghardt has struggled in his two starts posting a 0-2 record, 5.55 GAA and 0.866 save%. One of the bright spots for the Storm has been their power play which ranks 8th connecting on 19.57% of their opportunities.  The penalty kill is ranked 10th giving up 17 goals on 87 chances.

Lloydminster Bobcats (3-16-1  7 pts) 8th in the North

Last week: 2-1 win (Nov 11th) vs. Mustangs, 3-2 loss (Nov 12th) vs. Drumheller

Scheduled this weekend: Friday vs. Canmore, Saturday vs. Canucks

Lloydminster will play their final two games on their current five game home stand. The Bobcats are 1-2 on the home stand being outscored 7-4 in the first three games. Kobe Walker (13), Zach Kaiser (12), and Brady Barclay (10) are the only players with double digit points for Lloydminster this season. Special teams for the Bobcats is starting to improve but it's been a slow process as the power play is ranked last going 8 for 94 (8.51%) while the penalty kill is 15th killing off 70.31% of their opportunities against.

Sherwood Park Crusaders (12-10-0  24 pts) 5th in the North

Last week: 8-5 win (Nov 12th) vs. Whitecourt, 5-2 win (Nov 13th) vs. Drayton Valley

Scheduled this weekend: Friday vs. Spruce Grove, Saturday @ Spruce Grove

Sherwood Park and Spruce Grove will finish off their season series this weekend. The Crusaders are 1-3 against the Saints this season but are flying high with a perfect 5-0 record in November. Merritt Oszytko leads the Crusaders with four points in four games against Spruce Grove. Oszytko has 11 points in his other 18 games this season. Tyler Maltby leads the team overall with 35 points while Alex Rotundo has 27 and Ty Readman 25. Between the pipes, Zac Klassen is 8-8-0 with a 3.85 GAA and 0.892 save%, Jake Morrissey is 2-1 with a 6.11 GAA and 0.815 save% while Matt Berlin is 1-0 with a 2.00 GAA and 0.926 save%. Sherwood Park has one of the best power plays in the league (6th overall, 22.62%) but has only had 84 chances to put it to work. Meanwhile, their penalty kill hasn't been as good going 71/92 (77.17%) which leaves them 12th overall.

Spruce Grove Saints (16-6-2  34 pts) 4th in the North

Last week: 5-3 win (Nov 11th) vs. Grande Prairie, 7-2 loss (Nov 15th) @ Bonnyville

Scheduled this weekend: Friday @ Sherwood Park, Saturday vs. Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park and Spruce Grove will finish off their season series this weekend. The Saints have won three of the four meetings so far this season. Josh Harris leads the Saints with five points in four games against the Crusaders. Outside of the four games against the Crusaders the Saints have been winning their games with defense. In 20 games not against Sherwood, Park Harris has 14 points, Brett Smythe is second on the team with 18 points while Angus Scott and Conner Lukan each have 15 points. In goal, Nolan Kent is 11-4-1 with a 2.01 GAA and 0.925 save% while Connor Dochuk is 4-1-1 with a 1.63 GAA and 0.939 save%. With not much offense this season it's not a surprise that the Saints are 10th on the power play with a 15.66% success rate but are the number one team on the penalty kill giving up a league low eight goals against for a 90.24 kill rate.

Whitecourt Wolverines (18-5-3  39 pts) 1st in the North

Last week:  8-5 loss (Nov 12th) @ Sherwood Park, 6-0 win (Nov 15th) vs. Grande Prairie

Scheduled this weekend: Friday vs. Okotoks, Saturday vs. Brooks

The Whitecourt Wolverines opened a four game home stand with a convincing 6-0 victory over Grande Prairie and will to continue that success as they host Okotoks and Brooks this weekend.  Friday will be the second and final meeting of the season between the two teams. Back on October 15th Justin Young scored the winner late in the first period while Pierce Diamond made 19 saves for the shutout as Whitecourt knocked off Okotoks 2-0. In their first meeting with Brooks, the Wolverines fell 5-2 back on September 21st. Justin Young leads the team offensively with 27 points in 26 games while Mitch Lipon has 26 points and Cody Laskosky rounds out the top three with 23 points. Between the pipes, Pierce Diamon has been red hot posting a 10-1-1 record with a 2.10 GAA and 0.914 save% while Liam McCloskey is 5-3-1 with a 3.09 GAA and 0.897 save%. The Wolverines have the third best power play (29.17%), their penalty kill (86.67%) is also ranked third in the AJHL.

Turning to the Viterra AJHL South Division:

Brooks Bandits (15-3-3  33 pts) tied for 1st in the South

Last week: 4-1 win (Nov 11th) @ Canmore, 3-0 win (Nov 12th) vs. Okotoks

Scheduled this weekend: Friday @ Grande Prairie, Saturday @ Whitecourt

The Bandits will travel Northwest this weekend for a pair of games. Nick Prkusic led the Bandits (3 goals, 1 assist) to a 4-2 win over the Grande Prairie Storm on October 15th in their first meeting of the season. Prkusic also had three assists in a 5-2 win over Whitecourt on September 23rd. Nick is fourth on the team in scoring with 22 points in 21 games. Tyrell Mappin leads the team with 27 points, Oliver Chau has 25 and Cale Makar 24. In goal, Mitchel Benson is 6-1-1 with a 2.13 GAA and 0.899 save% while Alex Horawski is 7-2 with a 2.20 GAA and 0.898 save%. Brooks continues to climb the standings on the special teams sitting 4th on the power play (23.58%) and 5th on the penalty kill (85.05%).

Calgary Canucks (16-7-1  33 pts) tied for 1st in the South

Last week: 5-3 win (Nov 11th) @ Olds, 6-3 loss (Nov 15th) @ Canmore

Scheduled this weekend: Friday @ Bonnyville, Saturday @ Lloydminster

For the second time this season the Calgary Canucks will take on the Bonnyville Pontiacs, Andrew Marshall's hat trick led the Canucks to a 6-3 victory at Showcase Weekend on October 1st. Outside of that game, Marshall hasn't had a lot of success with just 10 points this season. Matthew Painchaud and Brett Van Os are tied for 2nd with 23 points while Ben Assad leads the team with 29 points. Between the pipes, Logan Drackett is 14-5-1 with a 2.49 GAA and 0.905 save% while Caiden Kreitz is 1-1 with a 3.57 GAA and 0.870 save%. The Canucks power play has converted on17.60% of their chances with has them 9th in the AJHL, on the penalty kill the Canucks are also 9th killing off 82.52% of their penalties against.

Calgary Mustangs (3-20-1  7 pts) 8th in the South

Last week: 2-1 loss (Nov 11th) @ Lloydminster, 11-3 loss (Nov 12th) @ Bonnyville, 3-1 loss (Nov 15th) vs. Camrose

Scheduled this weekend: no games

The Calgary Mustangs continue to struggle and are winless (0-5-1) in November and are winless in their last eight games. Jordan Xavier leads the team offensively with 28 points while Kylor Wall has 16 and Yuri Chernichko has 15 to round out the top three. Between the pipes, Bailey Brkin is 2-12-1 with a 5.05 GAA and 0.883 save% and Michael Barabash is 1-3 with a 5.16 GAA and 0.882 save%. The Mustangs power play is 14th with a 12.75 success rate while their penalty kill is also 14th with 74.04 success rate.

Camrose Kodiaks (13-9-1  27 pts) tied for 3rd in the South

Last Week: 5-1 win (Nov 12th) vs. Grande Prairie, 3-1 win (Nov 15th) @ Mustangs

Scheduled this weekend: Friday @ Drumheller

The Camrose Kodiaks are having an up and down November posting a 3-2 record. The Dragons and Kodiaks have met three times this season with Camrose coming out the victor in all three matchups. Liam Motley and Estian Coetzee each have seven points in three games against Drumheller. Fortunately for Drumheller they won't have to worry about those two, but they will have to keep their eyes on Bryson Traptow leads the team with 29 points, Mackenzie Bauer is second with 23 while Kyler Kupka is third with 22. In goal, Patrick Gora is 9-6 with a 3.19 GAA and 0.909 save% while Joseph May is 3-3-1 with a 3.21 GAA and 0.897 save%. On the power play the Kodiaks are seventh converting on 21.98% of their opportunities while their penalty kill is sixth going 89/107 (83.18) this season.

Canmore Eagles (12-7-3 27 pts) tied for 3rd in the South

Last week: 4-1 loss (Nov 11th) vs. Brooks, 5-1 win (Nov 12th), 6-3 win (Nov 15th) vs. Canucks

Scheduled this weekend: Friday at Lloydminster, Saturday at Bonneyville

After finishing off a three game home stand with a 2-1 record the Eagles set out on a four game road trip that starts with a pair of games in the north. This weekend will be the first meeting of the season for Canmore against Bonnyville and Lloydminster. Matt Forchuk leads the team offensively with 33 points in 21 games. Logan Ferguson is second with 29 points while Braden Saretsky is third on the team 27. Between the pipes, Ryan Bontorin is 9-7-3 with a 3.30 GAA and 0.897 save% while Thomas Davis is 2-0 with a 1.92 GAA and 0.927 save%. Taking a look at the Eagles special teams, on the power play they are tied for 4th (23.58) with Whitecourt while the penalty kill has struggled to 79.28% success rate which puts them 11th

Drumheller Dragons (10-8-4  24 pts) 6th in the South

Last week: 3-2 OTL (Nov 11th) @ Fort McMurray, 3-2 win (Nov 12th) @ Lloydminster, 4-3 OTW (Nov 13th) @ Bonnyville

Scheduled this weekend: Friday vs. Camrose, Saturday vs. Olds (oct 11,28, sept  16

Friday and Saturday will be the first two games of a season high eight game home stand for the Dragons. Drumheller is 6-4-1 so far at the Memorial Arena and will try and improve that record over the next eight games. The Dragons will be looking for their first win of the season series against the Kodiaks, having lost the first three games. Saturday will be the first of six meetings with the Olds Grizzlys this season. Jordan Taupert leads the Dragons with 24 points in 22 games. Chad Hurtubise is second on the team with 22 points and Slater Dykema is third with 17 points. Between the pipes Hunter Virostek is 7-5-1 with a 2.98 GAA and 0.902 save% while Dane Dow is 3-3-3 with a 3.25 GAA and 0.892 save%. The power play has struggled this season for the Dragons going 15/105 (14.29%) which leaves them tied for 11th, however, the penalty kill has been decent going 85/103 (83.52%) which leaves them eighth.

Okotoks Oilers (12-6-3  27 pts) tied for 3rd in the South

Last week: 3-0 loss (Nov 12th) @ Brooks

Scheduled this weekend: Friday @ Whitecourt, Saturday @ Grande Prairie

The Oilers continue their four game road trip with a pair of games in the northwest part of the province. The Oilers were shutout in their only other meeting with Whitecourt, this will be the first of two meetings with the Grande Prairie Storm. Trey Degraaf and Jordan Davies are tied for second on the team with 17 points while Nolan Thompson leads Okotoks with 18 points in 20 games. Between the pipes, Riley Morris has seen the majority of the games and has posted a 9-5-2 record with a 2.42 GAA and 0.922 save% while Matthew Armitage is 3-1-1 with a 3.20 GAA and 0.892 save%. Special teams the Oilers are 15th on the power play going 12/102 (11.76%) so far this season, but their penalty kill has been great killing off 91/105 (86.67%) which ranks Okotoks fourth in the AJHL.

Olds Grizzlys (7-13-2  16 pts) 7th in the South

Last week: 5-3 loss (Nov 11th) vs. Canucks, 5-1 loss (Nov 12th) vs. Canmore, 2-1 loss (Nov 17th) @ Drayton Valley

Scheduled this weekend: Saturday @ Drumheller

Olds will be looking to break a four game slide as they continue their four game road trip on Saturday in Drumheller. The Grizzlys are led offensively by Ryley Smith who has 26 points in 23 games, Landon Gross has 19 points in 17 games and Try Thompson has 15 points in 23 games. In goal, Ben Giesbrecht is 4-7-2 with a 3.42 GAA and 0.909 save% while Andrew Henderson is 3-5 with a 4.37 GAA and 0.882 save%. Olds is 12th in the AJHL on the power play going 12/84 (14.29%) while shorthanded the team is 13th killing off 59/77 (76.62%) penalties against.

Story by Chris Colwell @Cjcolwell