Photo Credit - Target Photography:
The 15 teams around the Alberta Junior Hockey League close out their November schedules this weekend. The two teams at the top of each division - the Sherwood Park Crusaders and Brooks Bandits - have one game each while the rest of the teams all have a pair of games coming up.
Here’s a look at what AJHL fans can look forward to:
Bonnyville Pontiacs: 17-8-2 (3rd in the North Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Okotoks Oilers, Saturday @ Canmore Eagles
The Bonnyville Pontiacs have been in action a couple of times already this week. Their week began with a disappointing 6-3 road loss to the Olds Grizzlys on Tuesday night. However, they followed that up with a dominant 6-0 win over the Calgary Canucks on Wednesday with Noah Amundson making 26 saves for his second shutout of the season. The Pontiacs will stay in Southern Alberta for the weekend as they face the Okotoks Oilers on Friday and then the Canmore Eagles on Saturday night. Bonnyville is yet to see the 23-3-2 Oilers, however, they’ve gone up against the Eagles once already this season. That matchup occurred at the start of the month at the R.J. Lalonde Arena in Bonnyville. The Pontiacs were held off the scoresheet on that Saturday night as the Eagles put three shots by Easton Hesse to walk away with a 3-0 victory on the road.
Drayton Valley Thunder: 9-15-4 (5th in the North Division)
Weekend Schedule: Saturday vs Olds Grizzlys, Sunday vs Camrose Kodiaks
Drayton Valley is heading into the weekend off the back of a 6-0 win over the Fort McMurray Oil Barons last Sunday. Tanner Hopps was dominant offensively with three assists and, between the pipes, Rory Dumelie stopped all 15 shots he faced for his first career shutout. This weekend, they’ll welcome the Olds Grizzlys to the Omniplex on Saturday night for their final meeting of the regular season. The two teams have met twice already this season with the Thunder coming out on top in both. On Sunday, the Thunder kick start their December portion of the calendar with a home game versus the Camrose Kodiaks. That game will be the first meeting between the two.
Fort McMurray Oil Barons: 9-18-1 (7th in the North Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Lloydminster Bobcats, Saturday vs Lloydminster Bobcats
Fort McMurray is going to be without four regular blueliners over the weekend while they all serve suspensions. The rest of the Oil Barons will go up against the Lloydminster Bobcats for two games at the Casman Centre. In their previous two games against the Bobcats this season, Fort McMurray walked away with four points in their weekend visit to the Centennial Civic Centre Arena at the end of October. Michael Hodge played a significant role in those wins with three goals and an assist over the two games. Finally, the Oil Barons added Breydon Berthold to their lineup after acquiring him from the Lloydminster Bobcats.
Grande Prairie Storm: 8-13-1 (5th in the North Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Spruce Grove Saints, Saturday vs Spruce Grove Saints
The Storm suffered a disappointing 4-3 overtime loss last Sunday to the Spruce Grove Saints after leading 3-1. They’ll get a chance to redeem themselves right away when the Saints roll into town for a pair of games on Friday and Saturday. Also, the Storm made a trade earlier this week moving forward Adin Kennedy to the Whitecourt Wolverines for future consideration.
Lloydminster Bobcats: 4-19-3 (7th in the North Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Fort McMurray Oil Barons, Saturday @ Fort McMurray Oil Barons
Chance Adrian was the overtime hero last Saturday night for the Bobcats as they beat the Storm 3-2 for their fourth win of the season. This weekend, they’ll look to close the gap on the Oil Barons who they face on back-to-back nights at the Casman Centre. In their two previous matchups, the Bobcats fell twice when the Oil Barons visited the Centennial Civic Centre Arena. They’ll also go up against former teammate Breydon Berthold who they traded to Fort McMurray earlier this week.
Sherwood Park Crusaders: 24-2-0 (1st in the North Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Camrose Kodiaks
The Crusaders made a splash this week bringing in forward Jacob Kendall from the Camrose Kodiaks. Kendall adds even more offence to Sherwood Park’s lineup that already has 124 goals to their name. The Camrose native will face off against his former teammates right away as the Crusaders host the Kodiaks on Friday night. The two teams are yet to face each other in the regular-season, however, they did go head-to-head in the pre-season which ended in an 8-1 win for Sherwood Park.
Spruce Grove Saints: 23-5-0 (2nd in the North Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Grande Prairie Storm, Saturday @ Grande Prairie Storm
Spruce Grove had a massive offensive outburst last weekend scoring 15 goals in two games. Nick Leyer netted a hat trick over the Oil Barons on Friday night and then, on Sunday, the newest Saints Ryan Conroy (Yale University) was the overtime hero in a 4-3 win over the Storm. This weekend, Spruce Grove will travel to Northern Alberta for a pair of games against Grande Prairie. Their meeting last Sunday was their second against the Storm this season. Their first game earlier on in the year when they made a Monday night trip to Revolution Arena. Spruce Grove got three goals from three different scorers on that night - Ryan Peckford, Loeden Schaufler, and Brent Trentham - en route to a 3-1 victory.
Whitecourt Wolverines: 13-10-3 (4th in the North Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Canmore Eagles, Saturday @ Okotoks Oilers
After starting November with four straight wins, the Whitecourt Wolverines have struggled to find much consistency. They’re heading into the weekend off of two consecutive losses against the Bonnyville Pontiacs and Drumheller Dragons. They’ll look to turn their fortunes around this weekend against a pair of South Division opponents - the Canmore Eagles and Okotoks Oilers. Both teams made visits to the Scott Safety Centre in October. The Oilers snatched a win late in their visit when Zane Kindrachuk scored with 16 seconds left on the clock to make it 3-2. The next night, the Wolverines bounced back in style defeating the Eagles 4-1. Kaleb Ergang scored a pair of goals in the win.
Brooks Bandits: 26-1-1 (1st in the South Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Drumheller Dragons
It’s going to be a quiet weekend for the Bandits with only one game on the schedule. That match up comes against their division rivals the Drumheller Dragons. The Bandits have defeated the Dragons in their three meetings so far this season. One of those contests couldn’t be settled in regulation, but it only took Brayden Krieger 22 seconds to end it in the extra frame. Their lone game on Friday will get underway at the Drumheller Memorial Arena.
Calgary Canucks: 4-24-1 (7th in the South Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Olds Grizzlys, Sunday vs Drumheller Dragons
Calgary picked up a dramatic win last weekend beating Olds 4-3 in overtime. Max Mazur tied the game for Calgary with 26 seconds to play in the third. Jesse Carr won the game for the Canucks 22 seconds in the overtime to snatch away a point from the Grizzlys. They followed that win up with back-to-back losses to the Brooks Bandits and Bonnyville Pontiacs. This weekend, the Canucks will look to get back on track on the road against those same Grizzlys they beat and then back at home on Sunday against the Dragons.
Camrose Kodiaks: 11-12-3 (4th in the South Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Sherwood Park Crusaders, Sunday vs Drayton Valley Thunder
Camrose acquired Brett Wieschorster from the Sherwood Park Crusaders this week in exchange for long-time Kodiak Jacob Kendall. Wieschorster doesn’t have to wait long to face his former team as the Kodiaks made the short trip down Highway 14 to meet the number one team in the North Division this Friday for their first meeting of the season. Last season, Camrose was able to beat Sherwood Park in two out of their three meetings which included a 2-0 shutout at the Sherwood Park Arena. Then on Sunday, they get back on home ice to take on the Drayton Valley Thunder.
Canmore Eagles: 9-15-3 (5th in the South Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Whitecourt Wolverines, Saturday vs Bonnyville Pontiacs
The Eagles have been struggling lately with one win in their previous six games. Their last win came on November 18th when Alex Young (Colgate University) scored a pair of goals in a 5-3 victory over the Thunder. This weekend, they’ll look to take full advantage of home ice as the Whitecourt Wolverines and Bonnyville Pontiacs visit the mountain town. Canmore faced Whitecourt once so far which ended in a 4-1 defeat at the Scott Safety Centre. However, it was a different story when they went up against the Bonnyville Pontiacs. Goals from Tristan Zandee (Colorado College), Ethan Schaeffer, Zach Carlson and 18 stops from Kadin Kilpatrick ensured that the Eagles would win 3-0 on the road.
Drumheller Dragons: 16-9-2 (3rd in the South Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Brooks Bandits, Sunday @ Calgary Canucks
The Dragons face a tough test on Friday night as they host the Brooks Bandits at the Drumheller Memorial Arena. Drumheller has come close to knocking off Brooks with two of three of their meetings ending in a one-goal differential. Following their game against the Bandits, they’ll have the day off on Saturday ahead of their matchup versus the Calgary Canucks. The Dragons have handled the Canucks in their only two meetings this year outscoring them 8 to 3.
Okotoks Oilers: 23-3-2 (2nd in the South Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Bonnyville Pontiacs, Saturday vs Whitecourt Wolverines
Okotoks have lost only once in regulation since showcase weekend in Camrose, and that loss came just last weekend against the Brooks Bandits. The Oilers were shutout 2-0 on the road to the Bandits, but then got right back on track the following night with a 6-1 win over the Canmore Eagles. On Tuesday night, they then made a trip to Camrose where they’d walk away 3-2 winners in a shootout. Jack Works netted the lone goal of the shootout. This weekend, the Oilers are back on home ice with a pair of games versus the Bonnyville Pontiacs and Whitecourt Wolverines.
Olds Grizzlys: 6-15-4 (6th in the South Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Calgary Canucks, Saturday @ Drayton Valley Thunder
The Olds Grizzlys had a massive mid-week win beating the Bonnyville Pontiacs 6-3 on home ice. Noah Hackett was instrumental in the win scoring four goals with three coming in the third period to ensure the two-points. Hackett and his team will look to build off the momentum from that game as they head into the weekend with matchups coming against the Calgary Canucks and Drayton Valley Thunder. It was only last weekend that the Grizzlys were handed a heartbreaking loss by the Canucks. After leading for the majority of the game, Max Mazur tied the game for Calgary with 26 seconds to play in the third. Then, Jesse Carr won the game for the Canucks 22 seconds in the overtime to snatch away a point from the Grizzlys. They’ve also faced the Thunder on a couple of occasions and were handed losses in both. This will be a big weekend for the Grizzlys as they look to close the gap on the Eagles in fifth.