Photo credit: Xander Holcomb, Blackfalds Bulldogs
Article: Aidan Serra
A big weekend for the Blackfalds Bulldogs could have resulted in vastly different situations for the team in the AJHL standings; back-to-back wins over the Drayton Valley Thunder and Sherwood Park Crusaders would lead to the Bulldogs and the Crusaders tied for second place in the overall standings. Conversely, two losses would see the Bulldogs sitting six points back of Sherwood Park, making the back half of the regular season an uphill battle from the outset.
Blackfalds’ Saturday night date against the Drayton Valley, standings implications aside, contained many deep-seeded storylines, as Drayton Valley had bested Blackfalds in a feisty affair the last time the two teams squared off, with former Bulldogs combining for two goals and four points in the win. The Bulldogs and Thunder’s start on Saturday was similarly intense, with the two teams trading first-period goals. Ryan Shaw capitalized on a sweet rush and set-up from Aaron Brown to open the scoring, before Alexey Trischuk wired home an equalizer late in the first.
The Bulldogs struck twice in the second, first with Hunter Brown muscling his way free to find a cross-ice pass for Brendan Ross to strike his 26th goal on the year from the side of the net. Carter Patterson made it 3-1, weaving his way into the slot from the right point before beautifully picking the top corner. Early in the third, Luke Dahlen would smuggle the puck home to make it 4-1, and while Adam Grenier pulled the Thunder back within two, Blackfalds would hold on to earn their second win of the season against Drayton Valley, improving to 2-1-0.
Sunday marked the Bulldogs’ Teddy Bear Toss game, one whose implications in the standings made the event far more crucial than simply the barrage of bears that would be thrown come the game’s opening goal. A win for the Bulldogs would move them into a second-place tie with the Crusaders, while a loss would allow Sherwood Park to move four points clear of Blackfalds. Aaron Brown would strike early, scoring the Teddy Bear Toss goal just 5:36 into the first period, firing home from the line to make it 1-0. Brendan Ross and Trent LeDrew would score just 35 seconds apart later in the first, giving the Bulldogs a three-goal lead through one.
Sherwood Park’s game vastly improved in the second period, with Logan Hauer, Zac Maxwell, and Brock Souch all registering goals to get the Crusaders back in it. Jayden Joly would score, extending his point streak to nine games, and making sure the Bulldogs remained in the league through forty minutes. After Sherwood Park had a tying goal ruled out thanks to goaltender interference, Hunter Brown would make it 5-3, taking a pass in the slot and beating Erick Roest top corner. Ross’ empty netter made it 6-3, pulling Blackfalds into the second-place tie they hoped to be in coming into a crucial weekend.