Photo credit: Xander Holcomb, Renegades Photography
The first of Blackfalds’ 2023-24 Northern road trips saw them travel to Whitecourt and Grande Prairie with aspirations of returning home with their winning streak intact. The AJHL’s new scheduling set-up means this was one of four trips North the Bulldogs are set to take this season, with their previous Whitecourt and Grande Prairie trip coming all the way back in January. The Bulldogs proved victorious in both of those games and looked to accomplish the same success this time around.
First, Blackfalds faced the Whitecourt Wolverines, and never really gave Whitecourt the opportunity to be in the game. Alexander Dimitriadis scored 42 seconds into the game to make it 1-0, and the Bulldogs never looked back from there. Brendan Ross’ eighth goal of the season made it 2-0 before the first intermission, and while Colby Browne struck early in the second to make it a one-goal game, the game didn’t stay that close for long. Just 69 seconds after Browne’s goal, Jayden Joly notched his fourth of the season to make it 3-1, before Brendan Ross’ second goal of the game just 45 seconds after Joly’s made it 4-1. Carter Patterson put the game beyond the reach of the Wolverines late in the second, cutting to the front of the net and finishing in a manner that would shock you to learn he had just four previous AJHL goals to his name.
Colby Browne would score again in the third period to make it 5-2, but that’s as close as Whitecourt would get, with Blackfalds’ Ethan Morrow shutting the door, finishing with 29 saves on 31 shots in Blackfalds’ fifth straight win. Whilst the Bulldogs’ game in Whitecourt was one largely of control and strength in all three zones, their game against Grande Prairie the following night was one of the wildest games the Bulldogs have been a part of. Eddie Moskowitz opened the scoring for the Bulldogs, with him and his linemates Alexander Dimitriadis and Hunter Brown staying red-hot. Blackfalds’ first power play opportunity of the game would prove a hindrance, however, as Zachary Wilson struck shorthanded for the Storm to tie the game at one. However, they’d redeem themselves on their following man advantage, with Dakota MacIntosh scoring to reinstate Blackfalds’ lead.
The first half of the game’s second period was one of the more high-event stretches of hockey the Bulldogs have played all season, starting with another Bulldogs power play. Eddie Moskowitz’s fifteenth point of the season set up Dakota MacIntosh for his second of the game, giving the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead. However, quick goals from Alex Atwill and Peter Copetti quickly brought the game back to a tie. It was 3-3 for just 55 seconds, with the usual suspects for Blackfalds reestablishing and subsequently extending the Bulldogs’ lead. MacIntosh was again involved in both, first assisting Brendan Ross’ tenth goal of the season to make it 4-3 before completing his first AJHL hat trick to make it 5-3 Blackfalds. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, MacIntosh’s wouldn’t be the only hat trick completed in the second period, as back-to-back Copetti goals completed his hat trick and tied the game up at five going into the third period.
Following tying the game three separate times in the first two periods, Grande Prairie finally took their first lead of the game 8:07 into the third period, with Tyler Dale notching his second of the season to make it 6-5. Blackfalds’ equalizer came from a source that should have been a predictable source, with Dakota MacIntosh scoring again to send the game into overtime. 43 seconds into sudden death, Tanner Willick’s third assist of the game gave MacIntosh the chance to end the game, which he took, giving him his fifth goal and sixth point of an epic 7-6 victory.
Blackfalds’ back-to-back wins give them an 8-2-0 record through the season’s first ten games, winning six straight in the process. Dakota MacIntosh continued to be one of Blackfalds’ stars, scoring five goals and nine points over the weekend, aided by a four-game Brendan Ross point streak, a five-game Eddie Moskowitz point streak, and Alexander Dimitriadis now notching seven goals and 11 points in his last seven games. The Bulldogs have a string of three South Division rivals to face in the coming week, starting with Friday and Saturday night home games against the Canmore Eagles and Calgary Canucks. Following that, Blackfalds get a rematch with the same Drumheller Dragons team that thrashed them 9-3 in September, playing them Tuesday night at the Eagle Builders Centre.