Photo credit; Bryan Wilson
The Blackfalds Bulldogs have been fighting to move up the AJHL’s south division standings for the majority of the season, and have mostly kept themselves in the top half of the division’s standings. However, before their game Friday, that was no longer the case. Coming into Friday night’s matchup against Blackfalds, the Drumheller Dragons had won five consecutive games, with only one loss since November 4. Thanks to their streak, the Dragons had caught up to Blackfalds, with each team sitting on 29 points. Thanks to playing one fewer game thus far, the Dragons’ superior points percentage sent them into fourth place and the Bulldogs out of the top half. Blackfalds, with a win, could leapfrog Drumheller and catch up to the Camrose Kodiaks, who, coming into Friday, sat third in the south with 31 points.
The Bulldogs started the game looking like they were hungry for a win, first, Layne Loomer took a sweet feed from Jake Geraci and beat Garrett Fuller on the one-on-one to open the scoring. The Bulldogs would get a power play shortly thereafter and would extend the lead to 2-0. Tyler Wallace found the puck at the bottom of the circle after Brett Meerman’s pass deflected off Layne Loomer’s stick, and Wallace, in his return from injury, fired it home. Blackfalds controlled the majority of the first 20 and outshot Drumheller 15-9 after one.
Drumheller came out strong in the second, but Blackfalds would score the first goal of the period, with Jayden Joly taking a Brendan Ross pass to beat Fuller, giving Blackfalds their second powerplay goal and a 3-0 lead. Drumheller, however, controlled the balance of play following the goal and would get themselves back into it. A poor Bulldogs line change presented the Dragons with an opportunity on a four-on-two rush, and Ty Daneault would tip in a Coy Pighin pass to make it a 3-1 game. Late win the second, Vann Yuhas would receive a pass from Daneault in the slot and fire it past Matthew Hennessey to make it 3-2.
The Bulldogs would get the first goal of the third period, with Bill Gourgon slipping a pass over to former Drumheller Dragon Kasey Hiemstra to finish off the two-on-one and give Blackfalds a 4-2 lead. However, later in the third, Drumheller would get a pair of goals in the span of 1:07 to tie the game up. First, a long wrist shot from the point resulted in a couple of rebound chances in front of Hennessey, and eventually, Jacob Goudreau poked the puck in to make it 4-3. Ty Daneault would then get his second of the game, breaking into the Bulldogs zone from the left, cutting to the middle, and ripping a shot over Hennessey’s glove.
Thanks to a Meerman penalty early in overtime, Drumheller’s powerplay helped them get the bulk of the shots, but neither team could win the game before a shootout. Coy Pighin would score on the first shot of the shootout, and following that, Brett Meerman, Bill Gourgon, and Connor Dick would all have their shootout attempts saved by Garrett Fuller, giving Drumheller a 5-4, come-from-behind shootout win.
For Blackfalds, the loss means they drop to 2-6-1 in the month of November. Their final game of the month is Saturday night in Brooks, where even a victory could still have them in the bottom half of the south division standings, so long as Drumheller takes a point from Camrose on the same night. Blackfalds has a home-heavy December schedule, and will hope seven games at the Eagle Builders Centre in the final month of 2022 can help right the ship.