The regular season of the AJHL is officially underway. The Drumheller Dragons clashed with the Calgary Canucks in two games this past weekend.
On Friday evening the Dragons hosted the Canucks and were narrowly defeated by a score of 3-2. The next evening the Dragons got their revenge and winning their second game of the season 4-3.
After one weekend, the Dragons are sitting with a 1-1 record.
The Drumheller Memorial Arena was packed on Friday for the home opener. Fans were eager to see what the new Dragons had to offer. When the puck dropped it was apparent a new team was on the ice.
Compared to last year the Dragons were faster and more aggressive. Head coach and general manager Brian Curran, felt there was room for improvement.
“I thought for a home opener it was great to see that many people out. I thought it was an entertaining game for the fans, but I wasn’t happy with the game,” said Curran. “I thought we played great in spurts. It wasn’t systems, it was the execution. There were some players that had a really good game, but as a group of 20 I thought we had to be much better.”
The Dragons took the lead early with two goals from Dakota Zaharichuk and Brodie Jamieson in the opening minutes of the second period.
However, the Canucks fought back and tied the game up four minutes into the third on a short handed goal. With only five minutes left in the game, the Canucks took the lead.
The Dragons couldn’t capitalize on seven power play opportunities.
“There was about 20 to 25 minutes where we played good hockey, but there were times it became a one-on-one show,” said Curran.
The next evening in Calgary would prove to be a better outing for the Dragons.
The Canucks got off to a two goal lead early in the game, but the Dragons fought back and tied things up by the end of the first period thanks to goals from Tyler Kerner and Mitchell Cook.
“In the first five minutes, we were down two nothing, but the boys came right back. In the second period we had great control of the puck and tempo,” said Curran.
In the third period the Dragons capitalized on two power plays, giving them a two goal lead. The Canucks retaliated with a goal in the dying minute of the game, but the Dragons held on for their first win of the season.
“We controlled a lot of the game and we didn’t throw the puck away as much, and we executed on a couple power plays. Even before the two power play goals I think we had a lot of opportunities and the boys showed a lot of character,” said Curran.
Another factor Curran credited as playing a big role in the games was goaltending.
“You can’t go wrong with [Christopher] Wray, he gave us every opportunity to win on Friday night. He made some big saves,” said Curran. “They [had some great opportunities to score], but Wray shut them down.”
The Dragons return to action on Friday, September 14, in the Drumheller Memorial Arena to face the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
The Dragons will be working on the basics over the next week. Curran will be using the time to refine the team, coming closer to a final roster.
“The transformation doesn’t take weeks, it takes months. I feel we’ll have a really strong team come Christmas,” said Curran. “There’s no shape or form of this team solidified yet. We have a good test in the next couple weeks to see what players want to be here”
Written by Pat Kolafa | © DrumhellerMail.com