AJHL Weekend Preview – November 4th-6th

Two months into the season and the AJHL is seeing some separation between the top four and bottom four teams in the North. Meanwhile, the South sees separation between the top five and bottom three teams.

Bonnyville Pontiacs (13-4-1 27 pts) 4th in the North

Last week: 3-1 loss vs. Brooks (Oct 28th), 4-2 loss vs. Okotoks (Oct 29th) 4-3 OTL vs. Fort McMurray (Nov 1st)

This weekend: Friday @ Whitecourt, Saturday @ Grande Prairie, Sunday @ Grande Prairie

After starting the season 13-2 the Pontiacs find themselves on a three game slide that has dropped them to 4th spot in the North. Bonnyville enters the weekend just two points back of the second place Wolverines and will get a chance to tie them in the standings when the two teams meet for the first time this season. The weekend road trip continues in Grande Prairie on Saturday and Sunday. Brandon Whistle leads the team with 15 assists and 23 points and is one of five players (Alden Dupuis, Derek Brown, Erik Donald and Ryan Symington) averaging better than a point per game.

Drayton Valley Thunder (3-9-4 10 pts) 7th in the North

Last week: 3-2 loss vs. Spruce Grove (Oct 28th), 5-1 win vs. Sherwood Park (Oct 29th), 6-2 loss vs. Canmore (Oct 30th)

This weekend: Friday @ Brooks, Saturday @ Drumheller

It was a tough October for the Thunder who went 1-6-3, but there were some bright spots as the Drayton Valley was .500 (1-1-3) in their final five games of the month. Friday will be the first of two games against the Brooks Bandits while Saturday the Thunder pay their lone visit to Drumheller this season when they take on the Dragons for the third and final time this season. In the previous two games, Drayton Valley lost in overtime (3-2 On Oct 22nd) and in a shootout (3-2 on Sept 29th) at Showcase Weekend. The offense has been tough to come by for the Thunder as just two players (Rhett Wilcox & Michael Cardinal) have double digit points which puts a lot of pressure on the goaltending tandem of Joseph McLeod and Parker Tobin to keep the team close.

Fort McMurray Oil Barons (16-4-1 33 pts) 1st in the North

Last week: 3-1 win vs. Okotoks (Oct 28th), 2-1 SOL vs. Spruce Grove (Oct 30th), 4-3 OTW @ Bonnyville (Nov 1st), 3-2 OTW vs. Grande Prairie (Nov 3rd)

This weekend: No games

The Fort McMurray Oil Barons will get a well deserved rest this weekend. The Oil Barons have played 21 games and enter the weekend with a four point lead on the Whitecourt Wolverines for the top spot in the division. Ryan Cox & Jack Hamly are the only players averaging a point per game. Fort McMurray has spread the scoring around with ten players having double digit points this season.

Grande Prairie Storm (6-8-4 16 pts) 5th in the North

Last week: 4-3 SOL vs. Canmore (Oct 28th), 4-3 win vs. Olds (Oct 29th), 3-2 OTL @ Fort McMurray

This weekend: Saturday & Sunday vs. Bonnyville

The Grande Prairie Storm started a busy travel weekend with an overtime setback last night in Fort McMurray. The Storm will luckily enough get a day off to be able to recharge the batteries after a long bus ride home before they host the Bonnyville Pontiacs for a pair of games this weekend. The Storm are an impressive 5-1-2 at Revolution Arena this season with their lone regulation loss coming against Drumheller (4-2) on October 21st. Grande Prairie has five players (Michael Clarke, Logan Mazerolle, Jake Elmer, Dallas Comeau and Zac McNeill) in double digit points so far this season. This weekend will mark the first two meetings between the Storm and Pontiacs. November might be a key month for Grande Prairie as they will play 11 of their 14 games against their division. The Storm are 3-3-1 against the North this season.

Lloydminster Bobcats (2-12-1 5 pts) 8th in the North

Last week: 3-2 OTW vs. Drayton Valley (Oct 26th)

This weekend: Saturday @ Whitecourt, Sunday @ Sherwood Park

After losing their first 11 games, the Lloydminster Bobcats look like they have turned things around at the end of October going 2-1-1 in their final four games. Lloydminster is hoping that their recent success can continue into to November as they make a push for the playoffs. Team defense has been a key to the success of the Bobcats who have given up just nine goals in their last four games. Their four games before that Lloydminster gave up 21 goals. Friday will be the first meeting of the season with the Wolverines before finishing off their mini two game road trip in Sherwood Park on Sunday. The Crusaders defeated the Bobcats 6-1 on September 21st in their first of the season.

Sherwood Park Crusaders (7-10-0 14 pts) 6th in the North

Last week: 5-1 loss @ Drayton Valley (Oct 29th)

This weekend: Friday @ Camrose, Sunday vs. Lloydminster

Sherwood Park is glad to see the Calendar turn over to November after going 1-5 in their final six games. Three players (Tyler Maltby, Matthew Dykstra, and Tanner Younghans) are all averaging better than a point per game, but the problem for the Crusaders lately has been keeping the puck out of their goal. In the last six games, Sherwood Park has given up 32 goals (5.33 goals per game) while scoring just 13 goals (2.17 goals per game). Friday will be the first of two games against the Camrose  Kodiaks while Sunday will be the second time the Crusaders have battled the Lloydminster Bobcats (6-1 win in their first meeting).

Spruce Grove Saints (13-5-2 28 pts) 3rd in the North

Last week: 3-2 win @ Drayton Valley (Oct 28th) 2-1 OTW @ Fort McMurray (Oct 30th), 3-1 loss @ Whitecourt (Nov 1st)

This weekend: Friday @ Drumheller, Saturday @ Brooks

It wasn't a great start to November for the Saints dropping a 3-1 decision to Whitecourt to drop them into 3rd in the very tight race in the top four spots in the North. Spruce Grove has been a very defensive team this season with just six players (Brett Smythe, Nicolas Correale, Garan Magnes, Josh Harris, Logan Ganie and Ian Mitchell) with double digit points. The Saints are tied for second fewest goals given up but are tied for 8th when it comes to putting the puck into the net. The goaltending tandem of Nolan Kent and Connor Dochuk each have a GAA of under 2.00. This weekend will see the Saints play two teams that they have yet to face this season in Drumheller and Brooks. For Spruce Grove, it will be their first and only trips to the Memorial Arena and Centennial Regional Arena this season.

Whitecourt Wolverines (13-4-3 29 pts) 2nd in the North

Last week: 4-1 win vs. Olds (Oct 28th), 7-2 win vs. Canmore (Oct 29th), 3-1 win vs. Spruce Grove (Nov 1st)

This weekend: Friday vs. Bonnyville, Saturday vs. Lloydminster

Whitecourt will wrap up a season long eight game home stand this weekend against a pair of divisional opponents from the Northeast part of the province. The Wolverines are currently 5-0-1 on the home stand with their lone loss coming in overtime against the Calgary Canucks (Oct 21st). Defense and goaltending have been stingy during the home stand giving up just eight goals in their last six games. Whitecourt made a huge trade this week sending their leading scorer Bryson Traptow along with Matt Gervais to Camrose for Estian Coetzee and Liam Motley.  Justin Young now leads the team in scoring with 22 points in 20 games. After this weekend the Wolverines will have played each team at least once this season.

Brooks Bandits (11-3-2 24 pts) tied for 2nd in the South

Last week: 3-1 win @ Bonnyville (Oct 28th), 5-3 win @ Camrose (Oct 31st)

This weekend: Friday vs. Drayton Valley, Saturday vs. Spruce Grove

No team has played fewer games through October then the Brooks Bandits. With the Calgary Canucks struggling the Bandits see an opportunity to jump back into their familiar spot atop the South Division with a couple of wins this weekend. Brooks has four players (Oliver Chau, Tyrell Mappin, Cale Makar and Nick Prkusic) averaging more than a point per game. Chau has been dangerous on the power play with nine goals this season which is four better than Bryson Traptow (Camrose) and Jordan Xavier (Mustangs). The Bandits are returning home for the first time since October 15th when they beat the Grande Prairie Storm 4-2. Brooks is 6-1 at home this season with their lone loss coming in their home opener (2-1) against Okotoks on September 16th.

Calgary Canucks (13-6-1 27 pts) 1st in the South

Last week: 9-3 win vs. Mustangs (Oct 28th), 5-2 win vs. Camrose (Oct 29th), 4-1 loss vs. Okotoks (Nov 1st), 6-2 loss vs. Canmore (Nov 3rd)

This weekend: no games

It was a disappointing finish to the Canucks four game home stand this week with back to back losses to divisional opponents, but for now, Calgary still holds down top spot in the division. Ben Assad leads the team with 22 points in 20 games, but the Canucks do have seven players with double digit points this season. Calgary will take on their cross town rivals on Tuesday for their next game.

Calgary Mustangs (3-15-1 7 pts) 8th in the South

Last week: 9-3 loss @ Canucks (Oct 28th), 5-3 loss @ Drumheller (Oct 29th), 5-4 SOL @ Olds (Nov 1st)

This weekend: Saturday @ Camrose

The Mustangs earned their first point on the road with a shootout loss on Tuesday in Olds and will wrap up their four game road trip on Saturday in Camrose. Jordan Xavier was named the player of the month in October and leads the team with 22 points (11 goals and 11 assists) and is the lone player averaging a point per game or better. The Mustangs are in need of a good November as they trail the 7th place Grizzlys by seven points for the final playoff spot in the South. Saturday will be the second time this season the two teams have played the last game going to the Kodiaks by a 5-1 score on October 21st.

Camrose Kodiaks (10-7-1 21 pts) 5th in the South

Last week: 4-1 win @ Drumheller (Oct 28th), 5-2 loss @ Canucks (Oct 29th), 5-3 loss vs. Brooks (Oct 31st)

This weekend: Friday vs. Sherwood Park, Saturday vs. Mustangs

It was a disappointing end to October for the Kodiaks who dropped their last two games dropping them to 5th in the tough South Division. Camrose made a huge trade earlier this week acquiring the leagues fourth leading scorer in Bryson Traptow (23 pts) along with Matt Gervais in exchange for Estian Coetzee and Liam Motley. The newest Kodiaks are expected to make their début this weekend against Sherwood Park and Calgary.  Friday will be the first time that the Kodiaks have played the Crusaders while Saturday will be the second meeting of the season between Camrose and Calgary.

Canmore Eagles (10-6-2  22 pts) 4th in the South

Last week: 7-2 loss @ Whitecourt (Oct 29th), 6-2 win @ Drayton Valley (Oct 30th), 6-2 win @ Canucks

This weekend: no games

The Canmore Eagles get the weekend off before finishing off their four game road trip in Okotoks on Tuesday. Canmore currently is tied for most goals for this season with Fort McMurray, and each team has scored 80 goals so far this season. Four players (Matt Forchuk, Colby Livingstone, Logan Ferguson, Braden Saretsky) are averaging better than a point per game. Forchuk, Livingstone, and Ferguson are the top three scorers in the league heading into the weekend. Canmore has given up the 10th most goals against so far this season, but their offense has counteracted that and has vaulted them into 4th spot in the South.

Drumheller Dragons (7-7-3 17 pts) 6th in the South

Last week: 4-1 loss vs. Camrose (Oct 28th), 5-3 win vs. Mustangs (Oct 29th)

This weekend: Friday vs. Spruce Grove, Saturday vs. Drayton Valley

It has been an up and down season for the Drumheller Dragons, and the standings reflect that. Jordan Taupert leads the team with 20 points in 17 games as the Dragons continue to try and find their game and identity. Drumheller will finish off a four game road trip by taking on a couple of teams from the North Division. It will be the first time this season that the Dragons have seen the Spruce Grove Saints. Meanwhile, it will be the third and final time this season the Dragons will take on the Thunder having won both games in extra time by 3-2 scores.

Okotoks Oilers (11-5-2 24 pts) tied for 2nd in the South

Last week: 3-1 loss @ Fort McMurray (Oct 28th), 4-2 win @ Bonnyville (Oct 29th), 4-1 win @ Canucks (Nov 1st)

This weekend: Saturday @ Olds

Okotoks will wrap up a season high seven game road trip on Saturday in Olds. Currently, the Oilers are 3-2-1 on their road trip and will look to finish on a high as they play the Grizzlys for the second time this season. The Oilers tamed the Grizz 5-4 back on October 7th. Nolan Thompson leads Okotoks offensively with 16 points in 17 games. The Oilers have seven players with double digit points through the teams first 18 games. Between the pipes,  Riley Morris continues to take the bulk of the starts. However, Matthew Armitage has been able to give Morris a break here and there.

Olds Grizzlys (6-9-2 14 pts) 7th in the South

Last week: 4-1 loss @ Whitecourt (Oct 28th), 4-3 loss @ Grande Prairie (Oct 29th), 5-4 SOW vs. Mustangs

This weekend: Saturday vs. Okotoks

The Olds Grizzlys started off November with a huge come from behind victory over the Calgary Mustangs to extend their lead to seven points on them for the final playoff spot. Olds win on Tuesday snapped a three game losing streak. The Grizzlys have six players that are in double digits for points this season. The Grizzlys are 11th in goals for and are 14th in the goals against department. Saturday will be the second time the Grizzlys will take on Okotoks, but it will be the first time at the Olds Sportsplex.

By Chris Colwell @Cjcolwell