Photo credit: Xander Holcomb, Blackfalds Bulldogs
After losing the first two games against the Drumheller Dragons this season, the Blackfalds Bulldogs had managed to even up the season series, winning one by blowout and one in overtime, both at the Eagle Builders Centre. The intriguing stat, however, is that the home team had won each of the first four games between the two sides so far during the season, a stat that would give the Dragons the advantage going into the teams’ fifth meeting of the season. However, despite the trend of the two teams’ games this season, the Bulldogs came in having won five straight and nine of their last ten games. With a game against the Okotoks Oilers on Saturday night, the Bulldogs knew that a win against Drumheller meant they could overtake the Okotoks Oilers with a regulation win Saturday night.
The Bulldogs took the lead very early in the first, with Tyler Wallace and Brett Meerman engineering a give-and-go in the slot giving Wallace a chance to snap home the game’s first goal just 20 seconds in. The rest of the first period was controlled by the Bulldogs, outshooting Drumheller 12-8 after 20, but it was Drumheller that escaped the first period not just with a lead, but with a two-goal advantage. First, former Bulldog Connor Poffenroth walked into the slot and snapped a wrist shot over Matthew Hennessey’s glove to tie it, then a Dylan Glinski one-timer on a Sam Simard pass made it 2-1 on the powerplay. Vann Yuhas managed to finish off an excellent passing play backdoor to make it 3-1 with just eight seconds left in the first.
Former Drumheller Dragon Kasey Hiemstra hadn’t played since January 13 with a lower-body injury, but in his return, would score seven minutes into the second period to make it a one-goal game, slotting the puck past Liam Choquette to make it a one-goal game. As they did in the first, however, Drumheller would get a late goal to extend their lead, with Vann Yuhas taking a pass in the slot from Coy Pighin and beating Matthew Hennessey to make it 4-2. Early in the third, Brendan Ross made it 4-3, picking his spot over Choquette’s glove with a perfect wrist shot. It took less than two minutes this time for Drumheller to extend the lead to two goals again, with Ben Christian letting one fly from the point and beating Hennessey to make it 5-3. A Bulldogs powerplay just past the halfway point of the third period marked a good opportunity to get back in the game again, but it was Drumheller that were able to put the game to bed, making it 6-3 shorthanded thanks to a gorgeous goal from Sam Simard on the breakaway. Ty Daneault would make it 7-3 late.
Blackfalds’ second loss of 2023 puts them four points back of Okotoks, but a game against the Oilers tonight marks a great opportunity to move back to within two points, but Blackfalds would have to win in Okotoks for the first time this season.