Photo credit: Xander Holcomb, Renegades Photography
The last time the Blackfalds Bulldogs lost back-to-back games was in games three and four of this regular season, falling 9-3 to Drumheller and 5-2 in Okotoks. Since then, Blackfalds have always managed to bounce back strong, winning 11 straight after the loss to Okotoks, and following up their loss to Fort McMurray with two wins over Olds and arguably their biggest win of the year, 7-4 over Brooks. The Bulldogs looked to continue the trend of bouncing back after a loss with the Canmore Eagles in town on Wednesday night. After the 6-4 loss to the Drayton Valley Thunder in which the Bulldogs squandered two separate leads, going in front and staying in front had to be a focus against the Eagles.
The Bulldogs took the first lead of the game 3:48 into the first period through Jayden Joly, who was the benefactor of an excellent offensive zone effort from Hunter Brown, who stole the puck and found Joly in front of the net. Joly fired home past the blocker of Matthew Kiefer to open the scoring. After the game stayed at 1-0 through nearly 12 minutes, Blackfalds kicked off a run of five goals in 6:38 with Brendan Ross finding a way through, wheeling around the outside of the offensive zone before finding some space and a shooting lane from the top of the slot and picked the top corner over Matthew Kieper’s blocker to make it 2-0. Offsetting minor penalties from Carter Patterson and Tyler Loughman resulted in an eventful two minutes of four-on-four, with Rhett Dekowny first finding some space at the top of the Bulldogs crease, taking a pass from Casey Black and sliding the puck through Wilson Maxfield’s five-hole to make it 2-1.
The Bulldogs came back quickly, with the Bulldogs cycling the play to the line and going to the net hard to create their third goal. Mathew Hanscom’s long wrist shot presented Aaron Brown with a rebound chance at the top of the crease. Brown scored his second goal in as many games to make it 3-1 just prior to the four-on-four ending. An excellent finish from Eddie Moskowitz extended the Bulldogs lead to 4-1, batting the puck out of mid-air and in after Layne Loomer’s pass deflected up in the air. Josh Hoekstra was able to cut in and snap a shot past Wilson Maxfield’s blocker to cut the lead down to 4-2 just as the first period was winding to a close.
The second period didn’t necessarily pick up where the first period left off in terms of goal scoring, but the game continued to be closely fought and high intensity. Blackfalds started the period well, dominating on the shot clock, but surrendered the first goal of the period at the 13:23 mark, with Tyler Loughman winning a foot race on the penalty kill, before working in shorthanded and beating Wilson Maxfield glove side to cut the lead down to one goal. Blackfalds’ powerplay earned redemption less than three minutes after surrendering a goal, with Eddie Moskowitz finding Layne Loomer in the slot for a grade “A” chance. Loomer’s shot struck the post, but Brendan Ross hopped on the rebound to score and make it 5-3. To close out the period, Blackfalds found a shorthanded goal of their own, with Hunter Brown springing Alexander Dimitriadis on the breakaway, who scored to make it 6-3.
Tyler Loughman scored 1:05 into the third period, striking on a brief Canmore power play to cut the lead back to two, however, Blackfalds pushed on, proving defence to be the best offence, limiting Canmore to just six third-period shots. The Bulldogs would extend the lead to 7-4, with Jayden Joly following up a Carter Patterson shot to force the rebound home. Blackfalds’ seventh goal marked their second shorthanded goal of the game, with Layne Loomer forcing the turnover initially marking his fourth assist of the game.
Blackfalds improves to 3-0-0 against the Canmore Eagles this season, and their 17-3-1 record remains good enough for second in the AJHL. Another seven goals for the Bulldogs maintain their record as the highest-scoring team in the AJHL, now having registered 110 goals in 21 games so far this season. Blackfalds move on to another Northern road trip, in Whitecourt Saturday and in Grande Prairie come Sunday. Blackfalds’ next game on home ice comes on Friday, November 17 against Okotoks.