It was a series and a season that will go down in Drumheller Dragons lore for years to come as the Dragons bowed out in the first round versus the Canmore Eagles.
The series went to overtime in four of the five games and last Wednesday night, March 13, the game was back and forth and came down to a single goal.
The Dragons dominated the first period, outshooting the Eagles 12-2. Things evened up in the second period, but it still remained scoreless.
Brady Risk scored on the power play from Derrick Budz 5:44 into the third period and kept the pressure up. With less than six minutes left, Quinton Ong of the Eagles scored his first of the game to even it up and 19 seconds later scored his second to take the lead. The Dragons fought hard but the Eagles were victorious with a score of 2-1.
“It was certainly disappointing, but nothing but pride in regards to how we felt with what the players accomplished this season, what the staff accomplished this season and how the organization as a whole has moved forward. We didn’t lose last week; we learned,” said Coach Kevin Hasselberg.
While being eliminated from the playoff is always hard, he takes some comfort in knowing the team left it all on the ice.
“That’s John Wooden's definition of success. It is having that peace of mind you did everything you could to be the best you possibly could in that situation,” said Hasselberg. “It makes you really think about what the mission means when you want to win a national championship and how much work and how difficult that task really is. There were a lot of things that happened this season you don’t want to happen to your team, but this group took it all, didn’t blink an eye with regard to the adverse situations they faced. They got to the rink, they put in the work, they got on the ice and they gave it their everything.”
The Dragons were missing Brett Edwards, Brayden Nicholetts Dylan McCabe and Dawson Bruneski, and then lost Roc Truman, who was leading the Dragons in playoff scoring, in the final game.
The Dragons finished the season with a 37-19-4 record in third place in the conference. This year saw records dropping including Jordan Taupert becoming the all-time scoring leader for the Dragons and Shane Ott tallying the most assists as a rookie.
Off the ice, the organization saw some great achievements this year. Coach Kevin Hasselberg was a finalist for coach of the year and Roc Truman was a finalist for Rookie of the Year. Six players have committed to play NCAA hockey in the future and counting.
“That was a huge step forward for the organization,” said Hasselberg. “It is very satisfying to see some of that hard work pay off for those kids. To see their careers extended at the college level and they are going to walk out of hockey with an education paid, or partially paid for, and still, get to play the game they love while they are doing that. It’s a dream come true for these kids,” said Hasselberg.
He appreciates the support of Drumheller.
“Last night was the pinnacle of what the community is doing as well. That is as close to capacity that you will see in the Drumheller Memorial Arena and that is a lot of people who have jumped on board and want to be a part of this,” said Hasselberg. “The organization extends beyond what you see in the players, staff, hockey operations and management committee. It’s Drumheller and I think we embraced that this year.”