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AJHL Weekend Preview: November 15-17

November 15th, 2019 @ 12:28 pm

Photo Credit - Chuck Taylor & Dave Ross:

The weekend schedule is filled with rematches from the AJHL Showcase and the North Division Standings could be in for a shuffle at the end of 14 league games on Sunday.

Bonnyville Pontiacs: 13-6-2 (3rd in the North Division)
Weekend Schedule: Saturday vs Brooks Bandits, Sunday vs Camrose Kodiaks

The Pontiacs fell just short of snatching a point in Sherwood Park on Monday. Jarred White sealed the win for the Crusaders with 1:06 to play in the final period resulting in a 3-2 loss. They’ll look to get back on track at home this weekend against a pair of South Division opponents. However, it won’t be easy with the Brooks Bandits rolling into town on Friday night for their lone trip of the season. Then on Sunday, the Camrose Kodiaks will be visiting the R.J. Lalonde Arena. Bonnyville and Camrose did meet at the AJHL Showcase in one of the most entertaining games of the weekend, with Alexander Marrocco scoring in overtime in that contest to give the Pontiacs a 3-2 victory.

Drayton Valley Thunder: 6-12-4 (6th in the North Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Olds Grizzlys, Saturday @ Calgary Canucks

Drayton Valley looked to be in deep waters last weekend with the Brooks Bandits and Drumheller Dragons coming to town. However, they almost shocked the league by handing the Bandits their first loss of the season, but ultimately fell 5-4 in overtime. The following night, they took care of Dragons 4-2. This weekend, Drayton Valley will look to stay hot as they hit the road for a pair of games against the Olds Grizzlys and Calgary Canucks. The Thunder are yet to face the Canucks; however, they did meet the Grizzlys at the AJHL Showcase winning 5-2.

Fort McMurray Oil Barons: 7-15-1 (7th in the North Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Brooks Bandits, Saturday vs Camrose Kodiaks

The Oil Barons made the big move on Thursday afternoon, trading away their captain Ryan Conroy (Yale University) and Jonathan Assayag to Spruce Grove in exchange for defenceman Riley Bodnarchuk and forward Colson Gengenbach. The two new acquisitions by the Oil Barons stand at 6’1” and 6’0” which adds even more size to a large lineup. Their first test for the blue and yellow will come against the Brooks Bandits on Friday night on home ice. The Barons have faced the Bandits once this season which ended in a 3-2 win for Brooks after a shootout. They will then take on the Camrose Kodiaks on Saturday night in their second meeting of the season. Their first meeting also went to a shootout, yet, the Oil Barons came out 5-4 winners thanks to a shootout winner from Michael Hodge.

Grande Prairie Storm: 8-13-1 (5th in the North Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Whitecourt Wolverines, Saturday vs Sherwood Park Crusaders

Grande Prairie will split their weekend with one on the road in Whitecourt and then back at home the next night versus Sherwood Park. Their meeting against the Wolverines will be the second of the week. They fought back from 3-2 with 15 minutes to play in the third period to send their fans home happy with a 4-3 win on Tuesday. Devin Sutton scored the game-tying goal at the 10:35 mark, and then captain Jackson Wozniak came up clutch scoring the winning goal with just over three minutes to play. They’ve only seen the Crusaders once this season, and it didn’t end in their favour falling 4-1 on the road.

Lloydminster Bobcats: 3-18-3 (3rd in the North Division)
Weekend Schedule: No Games

The Bobcats will have the weekend off as they prepare for a two-game homestand next weekend versus the Grande Prairie Storm. Earlier this week, they did travel to the Grant Fuhr Arena to face the Saints but fell 5-1.

Sherwood Park Crusaders: 21-2-0 (1st in the North Division)
Weekend Schedule: Saturday @ Grande Prairie Storm, Sunday @ Whitecourt Wolverines

Sherwood Park started their week in a dramatic fashion. On Monday night, Jarred White scored with minutes left to give them a 3-2 win over Bonnyville on home ice, which moves the Crusaders to 21-2-0 for the season. This weekend, they’ll look to add two more wins with games coming up against the Grande Prairie Storm and Whitecourt Wolverines. The Crusaders have faced both of these teams this season with wins against each of them. They’ve met the Storm only once, which came on October 27th when Jordan Frey stopped 27 of 28 shots in a 4-1 win. They took on the Wolverines that same weekend and came away with the same result. Their game against Whitecourt this time around will come with a twist, as the two teams will meet at the Derald Palmer Memorial Arena in Fox Creek.

Spruce Grove Saints: 18-5-0 (2nd in the North Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Calgary Canucks, Saturday @ Canmore Eagles, Sunday @ Olds Grizzlys

Spruce Grove made their intentions known on Thursday afternoon when they acquired defenceman Ryan Conroy (Yale University) and forward Jonathan Assayag from the Fort McMurray Oil Barons. They’ll get the chance to get to know their new teammates on the road as the Saints head South for three games. First, they’ll make a stop at the Ken Bracko Arena to take on the Canucks for the second time this season. On the first occasion, the Saints walked away with a 4-1 win at Showcase. Next is a trip to the mountains to challenge the Eagles for the first time this season. Finally, their last stop on the trip is at the Olds Sportsplex to take on the Grizzlys Sunday afternoon.

Whitecourt Wolverines: 11-8-2 (4th in the North Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Grande Prairie Storm, Sunday vs Sherwood Park Crusaders

The Whitecourt Wolverines have a pair of home games on their schedule this weekend... kind of. They started the week on the road, however, it didn’t end well for them. Despite leading 3-2 in the third period, the Wolverines surrendered two in the back half of the period to fall 4-3 to the Storm. They do get a chance at revenge right away though, with the Storm coming to town on Friday night. Whitecourt then heads to Fox Creek for an off-site game against the North Division leading Sherwood Park Crusaders on Sunday afternoon.

Brooks Bandits: 23-1-0 (1st in the South Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Fort McMurray Oil Barons, Saturday @ Bonnyville Pontiacs

Brooks felt defeat for the first time this season on Saturday night when they fell 5-4 to the Spruce Grove Saints. They did bounce-back, however, opening the week with an 8-2 win over the Olds Grizzlys at the CRA. The Bandits won’t be at the CRA this weekend, as they head to Northern Alberta for a pair of games against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and Bonnyville Pontiacs. They’ve met the Oil Barons once already this season, which came back at Showcase weekend. Michael Hodge scored late for Fort McMurray to tie the game at 2-2, but the Bandits came out on top in the shootout thanks to goals from Brayden Krieger and TJ Hughes. Their trip to the R.J. Lalonde to face the Pontiacs will be the first and only visit of the regular season.

Calgary Canucks: 3-19-1 (7th in the South Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Spruce Grove Saints, Saturday vs Drayton Valley Thunder

The Calgary Canucks stay at home this weekend as they welcome the Spruce Grove Saints and Drayton Valley Thunder to the Ken Bracko Arena. They’re yet to face the Thunder, but they do have one game down against the Saints. That matchup came on Showcase Weekend i September when they were defeated 4-1. Damon Byers had the lone goal for the Canucks in that game.

Camrose Kodiaks: 10-9-2 (4th in the South Division)
Weekend Schedule: Saturday @ Fort McMurray Oil Barons, Sunday @ Bonnyville Pontiacs

Heading into this weekend's contests, Camrose beat Calgary 5-2 at the Encana thanks to a hat trick from Jacob Kendall (Niagara University) as they moved to 10-9-2 on the year. They’ll hope that scoring form continues for Kendall as they take on a pair of North Divison teams in the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and Bonnyville Pontiacs. The Kodiaks faced both of those teams at Showcase Weekend and lost each of them, but did gain a point on each occasion. Alexander Marrocco scored the overtime winner in 3-2 OT loss on the opening night of the weekend. Then, Michael Hodge netted the lone goal in the shootout to give the Oil Barons a 5-4 SO win over the Kodiaks.

Canmore Eagles: 8-11-3 (5th in the South Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday @ Okotoks Oilers, Saturday vs Spruce Grove Saints

Canmore started their week with a 3-2 overtime loss on Tuesday night courtesy of the Drumheller Dragons. Before that, they picked up a significant victory on the road over the Bonnyville Pontiacs. Tristan Zandee (Colorado College), Ethan Schaeffer, and Zach Carlson got the goals for the Eagles in a 3-0 win ending their two-game losing streak. Now, to make it two wins in a row, the Eagles will need to beat the Okotoks Oilers at the Pason Centennial Centre on Friday night. They’ve faced the Oilers once already this year, and it didn’t end in their favour. Marc Pasemko led the Oilers with a three-point game in a 6-2 over the Eagles. That game is followed by a home matchup versus the Spruce Grove Saints in their first meeting of the season.

Drumheller Dragons: 13-8-2 (3rd in the South Division)
Weekend Schedule: Saturday @ Okotoks Oilers

Only one game on the schedule for the Drumheller Dragons this weekend as they head to Okotoks to face the Oilers. This will be the third matchup between the two South Division opponents with each team having a win to their name. The Dragons won in a thriller back on September 14th. After being down 5-4 with three minutes to play in the second period, Drumheller scored three quick goals to head into the final intermission with 6-5 lead. They added one more in the third period from Eric Martin and despite a late goal from Ayden Roche-Setoguchi, they held on to win 7-6.

Okotoks Oilers: 18-2-2 (2nd in the South Division)
Weekend Schedule: Friday vs Canmore Eagles, Saturday vs Drumheller Dragons

The Okotoks Oilers are the hottest team in the AJHL right now with zero regulation losses since they lost to the Sherwood Park Crusaders on September 28th. Most recently, they defeated the Camrose Kodiaks 7-2 at the Encana Arena to extend their win streak to six games. Blake Jacques had his first career three-point game with a goal and two assists in the win. This weekend, they’ll look to add wins seven and eight to the streak as they face the Canmore Eagles and Drumheller Dragons on home ice. They’ve had one meeting against the Eagles which they came out 6-2 winners back in September. They’re also familiar with the Dragons having gone up against them twice so far this year split the games with one win each.

Olds Grizzlys: 5-13-2 (6th in the South Division)
Weekend Schedule: Saturday vs Drayton Valley Thunder, Sunday vs Spruce Grove Saints

The week didn’t start well for the Grizzlys. They were handed an 8-2 loss at the hands of the Brooks Bandits on the road with Daine Milgate and Dawson Leroux scoring their goals. This weekend, they’ll look to get back on track as they host the Drayton Valley Thunder and Spruce Grove Saints. They are yet to face the Saints; however, they’ve gone up against the Thunder once this year. That game came back at the AJHL Showcase where they fell 5-2.

Story by @LiamHorrobin

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