Photo credit: Xander Holcomb, Blackfalds Bulldogs
The Blackfalds Bulldogs and Drumheller Dragons played their game four Wednesday night, a game four that, in this situation, could be potentially pivotal. A first period that saw the majority of the play stuck in the neutral zone only yielded nine shots between the two teams, but it was the Drumheller Dragons who made good on two of their six in the first twenty minutes. First, a Will Christian wraparound attempt fell kindly to former Victoria Royal Caleb Willms who was able to tap the rebound beyond Matthew Hennessey to make it 1-0. With under seven seconds left in the first, Ty Daneault found a loose puck at the side of the Bulldogs net during a scrum in front and sent a backhand shot toward Hennessey’s goal that deflected and found its way to the back of the net to make it 2-0 through one.
After only managing three first-period shots, the Bulldogs came out in the second working hard to generate anything they could offensively, outshooting Drumheller 17-11 in the middle frame. However, Drumheller managed to still outscore Blackfalds in the second, starting with Ty Daneault capitalizing off of a weird bounce in behind the Blackfalds net, finding the loose puck and feeding Vann Yuhas in the slot. Yuhas’s quick one-timer beat Hennessey through the five-hole, making it 3-0. A great Jake Geraci drive into the offensive zone minutes later set up Connor Dick to snap one past Parker Sawka’s glove side to make it 3-1. However, following that, Drumheller found another goal less than 90 seconds later, with Ryan Henderson taking an Adam Raesler pass in the slot. Henderson’s weak shot took a deflection off a stick and flipped over Matthew Hennessey’s glove to make it 4-1.
Much like the second period, Blackfalds came out in the third pouring out everything they could offensively, and in contrast to the second, they produced offensively to start the third. First, a perfect Evan Mitchell pass found Kurt Gurkan on top of the crease, who tipped it past Garrett Fuller’s glove to make it 4-2. Back in the game and revitalized, Blackfalds pushed hard, and at the end of a long shift in the offensive zone, Evan Mitchell found some space at the blue line and fired a long wrist shot through traffic and past Fuller’s glove to make it a 4-3 game. Blackfalds continued unrelenting third-period pressure, outshooting Drumheller by a 12-4 margin in the final 20 minutes, but couldn’t find an equalizer. With under a minute left, Vann Yuahs stole the puck at the Drumheller Dragons blue line and broke away, finding the empty net with a backhand shot from centre to make it 5-3. For Blackfalds, the loss means their record drops to 1-3 in the series against Drumheller and means they will now need to win three consecutive games to advance to the AJHL playoffs’ third round.