The AJHL Showcase in Blackfalds hosted six games coming into the Friday night matchup. While most games on Friday were nail-biting, one-goal finishes, it was the last game of the night at the Showcase that delivered what the home fans in Blackfalds had been waiting for. The Blackfalds Bulldogs took down the Grande Prairie Storm in a hard-fought 4-2 game.
After twenty-minutes, despite Blackfalds holding the edge in shots on goal, Grande Prairie held a 1-0 lead, after a goal from Gabriel Fillion. The Bulldogs had zone possession and generated shots, but failed to create many scoring chances. Storm goaltender, Connor Mackenzie, stood tall making each one of his sixteen saves look routine.
Blackfalds would finally find a way to get the puck past Mackenzie at the start of the second period, with Spencer Bell pulling the puck out of a scramble in the crease and scoring his first goal of the season. The game was tied for just over six minutes before Ashton Funk broke the tie, with his long wrist shot from the point redirecting off of a Storm defenceman and finding its way past Mackenzie. It took the Bulldogs just 45-seconds to extend their lead to 3-1, as an odd-man rush produced a scoring chance in which Otto Hanson had his shot stopped, leaving Kody Willick with an empty-net to deposit the rebound into. Blackfalds took a 26-16 lead in shots and a 3-1 lead in score into the second intermission.
In the third, Grande Prairie would strike first to cut the Bulldogs’ lead in half, with Hudson Foley beating Matthew Hennessey over the glove with a perfect wrist shot. Grande Prairie turned up the pressure from there, but just when it seemed the Storm had momentum back on their side, a perfect pass from Kody Willick found Layne Loomer at the side of the Grande Prairie net. Loomer scored his first career AJHL goal, and along with getting himself a souvenir puck, he gave the Bulldogs a 4-2 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. Matthew Hennessey shut the door for the rest of the third period, earning his first win as a member of the Bulldogs, making 25 saves on 27 shots in the process.
The Bulldogs win their second straight game and improve their record to 3-2-0 on the season. Both Blackfalds and Grande Prairie have one game left at the AJHL Showcase on Saturday, with the Storm taking on Canmore and Blackfalds playing Whitecourt.
Article by Aidan Serra.