Photo credit: Xander Holcomb/Madison Fox, Renegades Photography
It’s hard to contextualize just how much of one another the Blackfalds Bulldogs and Drumheller Dragons have seen since the beginning of 2021-22. For some frame of reference, Blackfalds had only faced the Drayton Valley Thunder, their opponent in the home opener, four times in the regular season and twice in preseason play since their inaugural season. In two years, Blackfalds have faced Drumheller twelve times in the regular season and twice in preseason play, as well as, of course, the Dragons and Bulldogs’ rivalry culminating in a seven-game thriller in the 2023 South Division Semi-Final that ultimately went Blackfalds’ way. After Blackfalds won both exhibition games against Drumheller at the start of the month, Tuesday night at the EBC marked the first opportunity for the Dragons to get some real revenge after Blackfalds took their playoff series in seven in the spring.
Drumheller’s start to the game couldn’t have gone any better, with Adam Raesler and Austin Osiowy scoring quick goals on Bulldogs debutant Noah Davis to give Drumheller a two-goal lead less than two minutes into the hockey game. Blackfalds snatched one back, with intense offensive zone pressure eventually leading to a goal, as Eddie Moskowitz’s pass into the crease deflected off both Brendan Ross and Drumheller’s Connor Poffenroth before squeezing past Jameson Kaine and in. Blackfalds continued an intense push for an equalizing goal, dominating the play for the next ten minutes, but a flurry of late goals saw the Dragons pull ahead. Easton Adrian found some space at the top of the left circle and beat Davis over the blocker to make it 3-1, and just 67 seconds later, Adam Raesler picked the top corner on the powerplay to make it 4-1. That was curtains for Davis, who bowed out of his debut stopping six of 10. Blackfalds pulled one back through Carter Patterson before Vann Yuhas perfectly picked out Jacob Goudreau in front of the net to give Drumheller a second powerplay goal and a 5-2 lead through one period of play.
The Bulldogs ended up outshooting the Dragons in each of the three periods to end the game with a 50-29 shots on goal edge. However, the Dragons capitalized on their opportunities, scoring on two of their seven shots in the second period. First, Jamie Hikida finished his breakaway chance through Ethan Morrow’s legs to make it 6-2, before Hikida’s slap shot from the line gave Aidan LaRose a tap-in on the rebound to give Drumheller their seventh. Brendan Ross was able to nab his second of the game and fifth in his last two games to make it 7-3, but Vann Yuhas and Jordan Luk both scored in the third to make it 9-3.
Blackfalds’ next game goes Friday night in Okotoks, facing the Oilers for the first time this season. Following Friday, Okotoks make the trek to Blackfalds for the second half of their weekend home-and-home. Following the weekend, the Bulldogs travel to Calgary for the AJHL showcase, preparing to face the Bonnyville Pontiacs and the Canmore Eagles.