Photo credit: Xander Holcomb, Blackfalds Bulldogs
As is the case with every south division team, the Blackfalds Bulldogs and Calgary Canucks were slated to play six games over the AJHL season against one another. Having only played one before January 21, the two teams were going to see a lot of each other over the final seven weeks of the regular season. A 3-1 Canucks win in November was followed up by a 6-5 win by the Bulldogs in late January, and Blackfalds hoped to take the lead in the season series Friday night in Calgary.
That cause was strengthened early, with Easton Inglis sitting two minutes for hooking in the game’s first minute, Blackfalds went to work on the man advantage. Tanner Willick found Jayden Joly in the slot with a good pass, and despite Joly failing to beat Max Prazma, Brett Meerman cleaned up and notched his twenty-fifth goal of the season on the rebound to make it 1-0. The Canucks, however, have proved time and time again that they simply don’t quit, and it was exemplified by their tying goal, with both Bowden Singleton and Cale Sanders working hard down low to force a turnover and it was Sanders who found teammate Ty Hipkin in front of the net. Hipkin had time to catch and release the pass, beating Matthew Hennessey blocker side to make it 1-1. Blackfalds, however, would score on another powerplay six minutes later to take a 2-1 lead, with newly-committed Brendan Ross firing a perfect pass cross-ice to Connor Dick who fired a snap shot under Prazma and in. Tyler Wallace would quickly make it 3-1, forcing a neutral zone turnover and working his way into the Canucks zone before firing a perfect shot past Prazma’s glove to make it a 3-1 game. However, just when Blackfalds thought they’d made it into the break with a two-goal lead, Dylan Bidyk would beat Hennessey over the blocker late in the first to make it 3-2 through 20.
Blackfalds would emulate their start to the first period again in the second, with the first line of Brett Meerman, Tyler Wallace, and Jayden Joly going to work early. Joly’s centring pass to Wallace was deflected off the post, but the puck bounced back into the slot, where Meerman picked it up and beat Max Prazma over the blocker side to make it 4-2 just 32 seconds in. That score held until the 11:33 mark of the second, when, on another Bulldogs powerplay, Joly and Meerman would work together in front of the net to recover a loose puck, leading to Joly finding Siedem with a cross-ice pass to make it 5-2. Just 24 seconds later, really good work from Otto Hanson and Kurt Gurkan would lead to Connor Dick and David Brandes breaking in on a two-on-one. Dick forced the puck through, and Brandes chipped his shot over the goaltender’s pad and in making it a 6-2 game. That would be it for Prazma, getting the hook for the second time in two games against the Bulldogs. Blackfalds would spend the rest of the game working at shutting down the opposition, and only a powerplay goal by Matt Corbet would get through the Bulldogs defences.
Matthew Hennessey made 31 saves on 34 shots to get the win and bounce back from back-to-back losses last weekend. The Bulldogs and Canucks will play their fourth meeting of the season tonight at the Eagle Builders Centre. A win for the Bulldogs takes them a point clear of Drumheller for third and just four points back of Okotoks for second in the South division standings.