Bulldogs Successful Over Saints to Snap Skid

Photo credit: Xander Holcomb, Renegades Photography

Article: Aidan Serra, Blackfalds Bulldogs

The Blackfalds Bulldogs’ first five-game losing streak in nearly a season and a half came to a close Saturday night at the Eagle Builders Centre, with Blackfalds’ powerplay leading the way to victory. The first meeting of the season between these two teams came back in October, with Blackfalds outlasting Spruce Grove 5-1 in a dominant victory. Both Blackfalds and Spruce Grove come in to this game looking to turn around what’s been, at times, an abysmal month of October. The Saints managed to beat the Calgary Canucks 3-2 on home ice Friday night, a win which snapped a five-game losing streak for Spruce Grove. A 3-5-2 November so far for the Saints have dropped them down to eleventh in the league standings, currently closer in points to the last-placed Olds Grizzlys than the first-placed Brooks Bandits, a position that the Saints very scarcely find themselves in. In the history of the franchise, the Saints have never finished lower than fifth place in the league and were one of just two teams to finish the regular season with north of 100 points last year, 21 points up on the third-place team, which happened to be the Blackfalds Bulldogs.

Blackfalds struck twice in the span of under two and a half minutes, with Brendan Ross striking twice on the powerplay. First, Jayden Joly’s pass into the slot found the puck momentarily stuck in the feet of Layne Loomer. Loomer was able to work the puck onto his backhand before sliding the pass to Ross, who was standing in the left circle. Ross converted to make it 1-0 before another Saints penalty gave the Bulldogs another quick powerplay chance, which they’d convert on an identical scoring play, this time off the rush. Joly found Loomer in stride down the right side of the ice, who drove wide before sending a cross-scene pass to Ross, who redirected home to make it 2-0.

Spruce Grove would earn a powerplay goal of their own early in the second period, with Ryder Matter cleaning up a rebound at the side of the net after Bulldogs goaltender Wilson Maxfield had managed to make numerous point-blank saves. Spruce Grove’s start to the second period was excellent, full of pressure and scoring chance creation, but Blackfalds was able to stem the tide and earn some chances of their own before the end of the period, all of which were denied by Zac Onyskiw’s excellent performance in the Saints crease.

Blackfalds’ start to the third period was excellent, with pressure generating more chances, all of which were stopped by Zac Onyskiw. The powerplay would eventually strike again, with David Brandes’ point shot being denied, leading to Hunter Brown cleaning up the rebound, giving him his second goal in as many games against the Saints. However, the 3-1 lead was short-lived, as the Saints would score just nine seconds later. A harmless-looking three-on-three rush for the Saints after the won face-off suddenly turned into a grade ‘A’ scoring chance for Ashton McNelly thanks to the linesman taking Trent LeDrew out of the play with a classic basketball pick. McNelly’s initial chance was denied, but Ryder Matter followed in to strike his second of the game and make it 3-2. The Saints pushed for an equalizer, but were unsuccessful, and Brendan Ross would seal the deal into the empty net to complete the hat trick and the 4-2 win for the Bulldogs.

Blackfalds hosts the Whitecourt Wolverines on Tuesday, looking to finish November on a high note. A win would take the Bulldogs to 5-4-2 in November, giving them an above .500 win percentage despite all the bumps along the way. Blackfalds goes into a big week hoping to end it as the second-place team in the league, as they currently sit two points back of the Sherwood Park Crusaders, whom they play Sunday.

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