Photo credit: Xander Holcomb, Renegades Photography
It had been nearly seven weeks since Blackfalds’ last regulation loss, and a weekend against two teams they’d previously bested already this season gave the Bulldogs some justifiable belief that they could finish the weekend with four points from their two games.
The effort to that end started with some early adversity. Less than 90 seconds into their Saturday night game against the Olds Grizzlys, Greye Rampton finished off a great individual rush past Wilson Maxfield to put the Bulldogs behind 1-0, the first in-game deficit they’d faced since October 20th in Camrose. Blackfalds and Olds continued their back-and-forth struggle, with Blackfalds eventually capitalizing on some offence zone pressure, as Jayden Joly found a loose puck in front of the net to tie the game at 1-1 after the Bulldogs had worked out some chances down-low. Odds struck back less than 90 seconds after the goal, with Mitchell Patrick finishing off a rebound after Daniel North had a shot denied on the offensive rush. From there, Blackfalds took control, able to tie the game, take the lead, and extend it to 4-2 before the first period was over. First, a great one-two passing play between Brendan Ross and Eddie Moskowitz led to Moskowitz tying things up, followed by Connor Dick benefiting from a Kody Willick steal at the top of the left circle. Willick found Dick, who scored from the slot. The fourth goal from the Bulldogs came off a brilliant individual rush from Hunter Brown, who created the chance in the offensive zone before putting the puck on a plate for Dick to score his second of the period.
Blackfalds blew the game open in the second period, notching six goals on the 22 second-period shots they sent Aidan Comeau’s way, with Luke Dahlen, Josh Knittig, Layne Loomer, Ryan Shaw, Alexander Dimitriads, and Tanner Willick all getting themselves on the board, making it 10-2 through two periods. 1:26 into the third period, Blackfalds scored again, with Connor Dick picking off a pass in the Grizzlys zone and picking the top corner to finish off the hat trick, his second three-goal performance as a Blackfalds Bulldog. Quinn Abbott would strike with Olds’ third, but the Grizzlys couldn’t get any close than 11-3, giving the Bulldogs their first win of November in emphatic fashion.
Blackfalds and Drayton Valley’s one previous meeting so far this season came all the way back in September, with the Thunder taking the trip south for Blackfalds’ home opener. Both the Bulldogs and Thunder’s rosters have undergone changes since then. Many of Drayton Valley’s new acquisitions in the time since came from the Bulldogs, with the Thunder now bolstering a roster comprised of five former Blackfalds players.
A pair of powerplay goals gave Blackfalds a good start early, with Eddie Moskowitz at the centre of both, first setting up Brendan Ross before finishing off a rebound himself to make it 2-0 early. Drayton Valley would cut the lead to 2-1 before the end of the period, thanks to a Sammy May point shot.
Brendan Ross would notch his second power-play goal of the game early in the third, with Eddie Moskowitz again playing set-up. The Thunder would be able to pull the game back to tied, with Matthias Bessey and Kurt Gurkan scoring a pair of goals to make it 3-3. Aaron Brown cleaned up a rebound to make it 4-3 before the end of the period, giving the Bulldogs the lead heading into the third.
The Bulldogs had grade “A” chances from Ryan Shaw and Luke Dahlen to extend the lead, but couldn’t, and Drayton Valley notched third-period goals from Ryan Neumann, Adam Grenier, and Jack Plandowski to make it 6-4.
Blackfalds look to bounce back from the loss Wednesday, as the Canmore Eagles come to down to face the Bulldogs at the EBC.