Photo credit: Xander Holcomb, Renegades Photography
The Blackfalds Bulldogs have officially completed two of their four Northern Road Trips.
They have two more before Christmas, meaning the back half of the 2023-24 season brings but one overnight venture, a back-to-back in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan in late February. It’ll make the 2024 portion of the season easier, but for now, the travel-heavy couple of months are a piece of adversity that Blackfalds have to deal with.
Saturday, November 11 brought Blackfalds’ second game of the season at JDA Place in Whitecourt, coming off a 5-2 win in early October. Whitecourt took the lead in this game, with Ben Charette shutting the door numerous times on a Blackfalds powerplay before Colby Browne broke back the other way just as the Wolverines’ penalty expired. Browne went upstairs on the one-on-one chance, beating Ethan Morrow glove side, and giving Whitecourt the 1-0 lead.
Ben Charette continued his strong play, making numerous huge saves to keep his team in the lead. This theme persisted throughout the game, with Blackfalds peppering the Whitecourt goal the entire sixty minutes, finishing with 36 shots. They, however, couldn’t find the crucial second goal of the game, and the Wolverines did with under three and a half minutes to go. Spencer Rheaume’s long wrist shot from the point was deflected in by Jarred Feist to give Whitecourt the 2-0 lead before Travis Verbeek sealed things into the empty net with a couple of seconds left. Charette was the star of the game for Whitecourt, with his 36 saves giving the Wolverines the foundation they needed to earn the 3-0 victory.
The weekend prior, the Bulldogs went from a Saturday night to a Sunday afternoon game, with travel. Blackfalds, unfortunately for them, faced the same problem, and had the same outcome, with the second half of their back-to-back showing a team that was very simply out of gas.
Tomis Marinkovic led the way for Grande Prairie, scoring three goals and four points in the 4-1 win, scoring on the powerplay, shorthanded, and into an empty net. Blackfalds’ Tanner Willick scored an excellent goal, but it wasn’t enough in the 4-1 loss.
Blackfalds moves on to another tough test of a weekend, hosting the Okotoks Oilers Friday before travelling to Okotoks Saturday.