AJHL Weekend Preview: October 11th-13th

For Junior A fans in Alberta, there?s certainly a lot to be thankful for this long weekend.  The AJHL has a full slate of games, including two on the holiday Monday, and a matinee grudge match on Turkey Sunday.  It?s still early in the season, so that means there?s still plenty to play for the leagues 15 squads.  Here?s how the weekend looks for each team across the AJHL.

Brooks Bandits
1st AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Canucks; Saturday vs Eagles; Monday vs Bobcats

The AJHL?s only remaining undefeated team and one of the top-ranked teams in all of Junior A hockey, the Bandits head into the Thanksgiving weekend riding quite the gravy train.  On Friday, the Bandits wrap up a home-and-home against the Calgary Canucks which started in Brooks on Wednesday ? a decisive 7-0 Bandits victory.  The highlight in the win was a 2-goal performance from Jaxsen Wyatt in his Brooks blueline debut after being acquired from Spruce Grove earlier in the week.  Brooks will enjoy home cooking the rest of the weekend, hosting the Eagles on Saturday and the Bobcats on Monday. 

Bonnyville Pontiacs
3rd AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Storm; Saturday @ Wolverines

The Pontiacs are very much in contention in the top half of the AJHL North, recording points in eight of nine games to open up the season and currently riding the best win streak in the division at five games.  Coming off back-to-back wins over the Lloydminster Bobcats, Bonnyville hits the road this weekend to take on the Grande Prairie Storm and the Whitecourt Wolverines.  The ?Yaks haven?t played the Storm this season, but will be facing the Wolverines for the 4th time in the campaign.  Bonnyville has taken a game in regulation and the shootout, but has also fallen to Whitecourt in a shootout. Pontiac Lucas Thorne will be looking to extend his league-high 9-game point streak.

Calgary Canucks
7th AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Bandits; Saturday vs Grizzlys

After a 1-1-1 start, the Canucks have yet to return to the win column and will looking to snap a pesky eight-game losing streak.  The Canucks will be in tough to start the weekend by tacking on the undefeated Bandits just two days after being shutout 7-0 by Brooks, but the game is the start of four straight at home and is a great opportunity to right the ship with a big statement.  On Saturday, the Canucks welcome the Olds Grizzlys in a key early season matchup between teams separated by just a point to start the season. 

Camrose Kodiaks
4th AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Bobcats; Saturday vs Oilers

The Camrose Kodiaks enter the weekend thankful they ended a four game slide in their last game, a 5-2 road win over the Canucks. Jarret Timmerman and Damon Zimmer both put up three points in the win, while Cody Laskosky recorded his 3rd goal in 3 games and now sits at 10 tallies on the year in just 9 games.  The Kodiaks will take on the Bobcats for the first time this year on Friday before looking to avenge a 4-3 loss to the Okotoks Oilers on Saturday in the second game of the season series between the two divisional rivals.

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

The Canmore Eagles were able to halt a three game losing streak with a Banff barnburner – a 6-4 win over the Grande Prairie Storm ? on Sunday.  Alex Young led the way with a 5 point outburst while Owen Reith posted a pair of goals and assists to propel the Eagles? to their 3rd win of the season.  Canmore will look to make it a streak on Friday against the Olds Grizzlys in Banff (the Eagles are 1-0 against Olds due to a 3-2 win earlier this year) before they head to Brooks to take on the Bandits.  The Eagles gave the Bandits plenty to handle in the postseason, and will look to do so again before Thanksgiving.

Drayton Valley Thunder
T-6th AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Saturday vs Oil Barons; Monday @ Crusaders

The Drayton Valley Thunder roll into the Thanksgiving weekend looking for their first win of October, as a three game winning streak has shifted gears into a three game losing streak.  The Thunder will clash with the Oil Barons for the first time this season on Saturday, and Tanner Hopps will look to extend his point streak to five games as the sophomore has six points in his last four outings. The Thunder will also take the ice in one of two games on Thanksgiving Monday, taking on the surging Crusaders in Sherwood Park. 

Drumheller Dragons
T-2nd AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Oilers; Saturday @ Crusaders

The Drumheller Dragons are breathing fire these days, absolutely scorching their opponents and leaving opposing netminders scorched during a four game winning streak that has seen them pot 22 goals.  Roc Truman is on a 6-game heater, racking up eight points, while Kaden Hanas, Brady Risk, and Eric Martin are all over point-per-game paces 10 games through the year.  The Dragons will have to dig deep to extend their win streak, as a tough set of games this weekend will see them host the Oilers (who they are tied with for 2nd in the South with 14 points) and travel to Sherwood Park to play the North-leading Crusaders.

Fort McMurray Oil Barons
T-6th AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Crusaders; Saturday @ Thunder; Sunday @ Saints

A three game road trip awaits the Oil Barons after a split against the Spruce Grove Saints in the Mac last weekend.  The MOB have points in three of their last four games after a 1-4 start and will be looking for a strong weekend to propel them back over .500.  Goaltender Evan Fradette has been sensational in his last two starts, stopping 63 of the last 67 shots he?s faced and back-to-back save percentages of .934 and .943.  The schedule is certainly daunting, as a Saturday matchup against the Thunder is sandwiched by the top two teams in the North in the Crusaders and the Saints. 

Grande Prairie Storm
T-4th AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Pontiacs

The Grande Prairie Storm recently snapped out of a four game funk with a 3-1 victory over the Drayton Valley Thunder on Wednesday.  Nathan Morgan factored into every Storm tally with a goal and two assists, while Kaeden Lane made 25 saves in the win.  The Storm are once again a factor in the North division and will have a luxury not many other teams will have this weekend: rest.  The Storm play just a single game ? at home Friday to the Pontiacs ? and don?t take the ice again until October 18th against the Oilers.

Lloydminster Bobcats
8th AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Kodiaks; Monday @ Bandits

The Lloydminster Bobcats will spend their Thanksgiving on the road this year and start the weekend off looking for their first win of the month.  The Bobcats have come up short in five straight, and have scored just twice in four October losses.  The Border City Cats will look to spark their offence on Friday against the Kodiaks before a big challenge on the holiday Monday in Brooks against the Bandits.

Okotoks Oilers
T-2nd AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Dragons; Saturday @ Kodiaks

The Ookotoks Oilers are a perfect 3-0 in October, with the most recent win a major statement as they handed the Sherwood Park Crusaders their first loss of the season on Saturday night, 3-2, in a playoff-like game that featured 190 penalty minutes.  The Oilers begin their long weekend with a rivalry game against the Dragons, with the winner taking sole possession of 2nd place in the AJHL South.  Okotoks stays on the road on Saturday, ending their weekend with a clash against the Kodiaks in Camrose.

Olds Grizzlys
6th AJHL South
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Eagles (Banff); Saturday @ Canucks

The Olds Grizzlys have followed up a 2-1 start with a six-game losing streak but Olds has been doing anything but hibernating as they have a trio of setbacks by just a single goal amid that streak, including a 3-2 loss to the Bandits.  The Grizzlys will hope to finally knock the monkey of the back in a pair of divisional games over Thanksgiving weekend.  On Friday, the Grizzlys and Eagles will play in Banff and Olds closes out their weekend Saturday night against the Canucks. 

Sherwood Park Crusaders
1st AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Oil Barons; Saturday vs Dragons; Monday vs Thunder

All good things come to an end, and in the case of the Sherwood Park Crusaders this means their unbeaten streak to start the year.  After their bid to go 10-0 was snapped by Okotoks on Saturday, the Crusaders are hoping a three game home stand will help get them back in the win column. The Cru welcome the MOB and Drumheller on Friday and Saturday, then close out Thanksgiving with a Monday matchup against the Thunder.  The Crusaders have scored an eye-popping 52 goals and boast the top three scorers in the league in Arjun Atwal (5-22-27), Carter Savoie (14-9-23), and William Zapernick (7-14-21).  The Crusaders? big three are all over 20 points on the season, while no other skater is yet to reach the mark. 

Spruce Grove Saints
2nd AJHL North
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Wolverines; Sunday vs Oil Barons

The Spruce Grove Saints are coming off a weekend split against the MOB in Fort McMurray, and will enter this weekend looking to integrate the newly acquired Brayden Nicholetts, who was picked up from the Dragons in exchange for forward Bruce MacGregor.  Nicholetts wore a letter in Drumheller and has established a gritty reputation in 131 AJHL games.  The Saints will stay in the Grove for Thanksgiving, hosting Whitecourt on Friday before looking to avenge last weekend?s loss to the Oil Barons on Sunday.

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

The Whitecourt Wolverines are white-hot to start October, rattling off three street wins to climb into a tie for fourth in the North with Grande Prairie.  Veteran forward Braden Labant currently wields the hot stick for Whitecourt with goals in back-to-back games while Vincent Duplessis has won three of his last four starts, never allowing more than two goals.  Whitecourt looks to snowball their winning streak this long weekend starting Friday in Spruce Grove against the Saints before hosting the Pontiacs once again on Saturday.