AJHL Weekend Preview: October 18th-20th

Photo Credit – Chad Goddard:

Bonnyville Pontiacs: 8-2-1 (3rd in the North Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Spruce Grove Saints, Saturday @ Spruce Grove Saints

The Bonnyville Pontiacs get their first chance at revenge as they take on the Spruce Grove Saints in a home and home series. Bonnyville’s 2018-2019 season ended abruptly after Spruce Grove swept them in the second round putting an end to their historic season. Now, Rick Swan’s team heads into the game third in the North Division, but are coming off a loss last Saturday to the Whitecourt Wolverines. Before the loss, the Yaks were one of the hottest teams in the league winning six in a row. Lucas Thorne and Matthew McKim played a significant role during that run with 14 points for Thorn and 13 points for the McKim. Those are two starts the Pontiacs staff will want to get going again against the Saints.

Drayton Valley Thunder: 3-8-1 (7th in the North Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Canmore Eagles, Sunday vs Okotoks Oilers

A pair of Southern Alberta opponents roll into the Drayton Valley Omniplex over the weekend. First, the Thunder go up against the Canmore Eagles on Friday night. That’ll be the second meeting between the teams after facing each other at Showcase Weekend. Drayton Valley got the better of Canmore on that occasion battling back from 3-0 to win 6-4. The Okotoks Oilers follow the Eagles into the Omniplex for a manatee affair on Sunday. The Thunder will be looking to snap a five game losing streak.

Fort McMurray Oil Barons: 6-1-1 (6th in the North Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Sherwood Park Crusaders, Saturday vs Sherwood Park Crusaders

The Oil Barons return home to Casman Centre after spending Thanksgiving Weekend on the road. They faced some stiff competition in the Sherwood Park Crusaders and Spruce Grove Saints falling to a combined score of 9-5. Fort McMurray did pick up two points over the Thunder in a 3-2 to win with Konrad Belcourt snagging the game winner on Saturday. These games coming up will be their third and fourth against Sherwood Park. They’ve battled hard versus the top team in the North Division but have fallen short on both occasions as the road team.

Grande Prairie Storm: 6-7-0 (5th in the North Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Okotoks Oilers, Saturday vs Canmore Eagles

A pair of home games are on the card for the Grande Prairie Storm, however, there’s a slight twist. Storm fans can watch their team play at the Coca Cola Centre rather than the typical Revolution Place. Visiting the Coca Cola Centre are the Okotoks Oilers and Canmore Eagles who’ll both be touring Northern Alberta this weekend. The Storm has faced both teams twice already this season, so that’ll be their final meeting against either side. It’ll be Okotoks up first on Friday night, who Grande Prairie has struggled against in their previous two contests. In the two games, the Storm offence has only been able to muster up one goal while defensively they’ve conceded ten times. As for the Eagles, their series is split against their Saturday night opponents. Grande Prairie came out on top 6-3 at Showcase Weekend while Canmore was able to get revenge in Banff two weeks ago.

Lloydminster Bobcats: 1-12-2 (8th in the North Division)

Weekend Schedule: No Games

The Lloydminster Bobcats are not in action this weekend. Earlier this week, they returned to the Border City following a three-game road trip. The Bobcats fell in all three outings as they went up against the Brooks Bandits, Drumheller Dragons, and Okotoks Oilers.

Sherwood Park Crusaders: 12-1-0 (1st in the North Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Fort McMurray Oil Barons, Saturday @ Fort McMurray Oil Barons

It’s time for another road trip for the Crusaders as they head North to face the Fort McMurray Oil Barons. It’ll be their first visit to the Casman Centre since they eliminated the Oil Barons in the second round of the post-season in 2019. They’ll be taking a boatload of offence with the top three scorers in the league – Carter Savoie, Arjun Atwal and Will Zapernick – all looking to stay hot. Sherwood Park and Fort McMurray met as recently as last Friday. The Crusades found themselves up 4-1 early in the third period, but a late push from the Oil Barons gave them a scare with goals coming from Tyler Wallace and Ty Budai. Sherwood Park will be looking to close out the Barons sooner rather than risk another late comeback attempt.

Spruce Grove Saints: 10-2-0 (8th in the North Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Bonnyville Pontiacs, Saturday vs Bonnyville Pontiacs

The Kings of the North got back to winning ways last weekend with wins over the Whitecourt Wolverines and Fort McMurray Oil Barons. Colson Gengenbach made his Saints debut on Friday night and did so in style scoring what turned out to be the game winner. He then followed that up with another goal in a 5-2 win over the Oil Barons on Saturday. This weekend, Gengenbach and the rest of the Saints look to stay hot as they challenge the Bonnyville Pontiacs in a home and home series. The Saints only two losses have come on the road, however, they?ve been dominant on home ice going 6-0-0 so far this season.

Whitecourt Wolverines: 6-4-2 (4th in the North Division)

Weekend Schedule: Saturday vs Okotoks Oilers, Sunday vs Canmore Eagles

The Whitecourt Wolverines are heading into the weekend on a high after a big win over the Bonnyville Pontiacs this past Saturday. Ethan Leyer got some revenge against his former team when he continued his three game goal streak. He was joined on the scoresheet by Ryan Wallz, Cole Carrier, and Ethan Green. This weekend, they?ll play host to two South Division teams with the Okotoks Oilers and Canmore Eagles coming to Woodland County.

Brooks Bandits: 12-0-0 (1st in the South Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Olds Grizzlys, Saturday @ Camrose Kodiaks

The defending AJHL champions, and the only undefeated team in the league, hit the road for a pair of games against the Olds Grizzlys and the Camrose Kodiaks. The Bandits have been unbelievable to begin the season winning their opening 12 games. With a couple of wins this weekend, Brooks will tie the 2013-14 Oil Barons for the third longest season opening winning streak.

Calgary Canucks: 2-11-1 (7th in the South Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Drumheller Dragons

On Thursday, the Calgary Canucks announced a pair of moves which saw them trade Jackson Verstraete to the SJHL; then bring in Ryley Hogan from the Lloydminster Bobcats in exchange for Brendan Morrow. Hogan?s first test with his new Canucks teammates comes on Friday night when they?re at home against the Drumheller Dragons. Calgary should have some momentum heading into the contest. This past Tuesday, they secured their second win of the season after beating the Canmore Eagles 4-2, Christiano Aiello was the hero on the night for the Canucks scoring his first career hat-trick.

Camrose Kodiaks: 5-4-2 (4th in the South Division)

Weekend Schedule: Saturday vs Brooks Bandits

Only one game for the Camrose Kodiaks and it comes in the form of the undefeated Brooks Bandits. This isn?t the first game between the two South Division opponents. They?ve met twice in the early portion of the season with the Bandits taking maximum points. The last time they played at the Encana Arena, Camrose almost fought back from 5-1 down, but fell just short 6-4. Heading into this contest, the Kodiaks have been on a good run putting together three wins in a row over the Calgary Canucks, Lloydminster Bobcats and Okotoks Oilers. We?ll have to wait until Saturday to see if they can make it four. 

Canmore Eagles: 4-7-0 (5th in the South Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Drayton Valley Thunder, Saturday @ Grande Prairie Storm, Sunday @ Whitecourt Wolverines

The Eagles are looking to get back to winning ways after losing to the Brooks Bandits and Calgary Canucks. Those wins will need to come on the road for a busy weekend. First, they?ll make their lone visit to the Drayton Valley Omniplex on Friday night. That?ll then be followed by another pair of single visits against the Grande Prairie Storm and Whitecourt Wolverines. Joining them on their road trip is the recently acquired Kadin Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick is a second year netminder who spent last season in the SJHL. He?ll join rookie goaltender Devin Chapman between the pipes.

Drumheller Dragons: 7-4-2 (3rd in the South Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Calgary Canucks, Sunday @ Olds Grizzlys

Following the success of their Hockey Hooky game on Wednesday afternoon, the Dragons hit the road for the weekend to take on the two bottom teams in the South Division. On Friday, they?ll take on the Calgary Canucks and former Dragon Hassan Akl at the Ken Bracko Arena. That is then followed by a day off on Saturday as they rest up for a matchup on Sunday afternoon versus the Grizzlys. Drumheller wouldn?t have forgotten what happened the last time they visiting Olds. After leading 3-0 heading into the second period, the Dragons dropped the lead and fell 6-5 in overtime. Vengence is more than likely on their minds heading into that contest.

Okotoks Oilers: 9-2-1 (2nd in the South Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Grande Prairie Storm, Saturday @ Whitecourt Wolverines, Sunday @ Drayton Valley Thunder

Noah Kim has been in fine form for the Oilers to begin the season. Since joining from the Calgary Mustangs, the Fullerton, California, native has 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists) in 12 games and is currently on a seven game point streak. Kim will look to stay on track this weekend as he and his Oiler teammates his the road for three games against North Division opponents. Grande Prairie is the first stop on tour. The Oilers have had the better hand against the Storm so far this season outscoring them 10-1 in their two meetings. They then take on the Whitecourt Wolverines and Drayton Valley Thunder for the first time this season.

Olds Grizzlys: 3-8-0 (6th in the South Division)

Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Brooks Bandits, Sunday vs Drumheller Dragons

The Olds Grizzlys are back in action this Friday for the first time since beating the Calgary Canucks last Saturday. The recently acquired Zafir Rawji led the charge in that game scoring three points including his first goal for the Grizzlys. This weekend, Olds face a couple of top South Division opponents in the Brooks Bandits and Drumheller Dragons. The Grizzlys came close to stealing a win away from the Bandits a couple of weeks ago after Ty Marcinkowski stopped 31 of 34 shots. Ultimately, they would fall 3-2 in regulation. However, they did defeat the Dragons in their lone game this season. Olds fought back from 3-0 to take the two points and beating them 6-5 in overtime.