Sports | DrumhellerMail
Last updateWed, 12 May 2021 1pm

Dragons' season ends


It was an unceremonious end to the Drumheller Dragons hockey season on Wednesday, April 28, when the AJHL announced the final schedule for the 2020-2021 season, and the Dragons weren’t on it.
The AJHL announced its final cohort pairings for the season. The Dragons were not on the schedule. This follows the cancellation of their April 24 and 25 games versus the Okotoks Oilers, after a positive COVID-19 result was identified in the Dragons’ Cohort.
“We kind of exhausted all options and persevered through as much as we could. But I think kind of what was happening throughout the league, the writing was kind of on the wall, and it was time to align ourselves with the ending of other leagues, the western league mainly,” said Dragons coach Kevin Hasselberg.
He said this year there would not be any playoffs, nor will the league award a championship.
“The point and goal of playing these games was to ensure players had the opportunity to showcase their skills and character to potentially earn an opportunity to play at the next level and give the opportunity to these kids to play and compete and maintain some normalcy in the COVID world,” said Hasselberg.
The Dragons completed the latest round of games with a 5-5 record, the fourth-best in the Viterra AJHL South division.
“It’s been great, we’re really thankful, but it is time to call it,” said Hasselberg.
“We can’t wait to get fans back into the rink so we can play the game the way it was meant to be played.”

Yakimchuk commits to Lindenwood University Lions


The Drumheller Dragons announced 20 year-old defenseman Aiden Yakimchuk has committed to Lindenwood University for the 2021-2022 season. The Lions play in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA Men’s Division 1) and are based out of St Charles, Missouri.
The Lions finished 2020-21 with an overall record of 15 wins and 1 loss, capturing their fourth straight Conference championship. Lindenwood University Men’s Hockey is set to join the NCAA Division I ranks for the 2022/23 season.
Yakimchuk is playing in his fourth Alberta Junior Hockey League season, playing his 17-year-old year with the Sherwood Park Crusaders and the last three seasons with the Drumheller Dragons. The 6’4 defenceman from Edmonton, AB has played in 149 games and scored 6 goals and 29 assists for a total of 35 points. Yakimchuk is enjoying his most offensive season to date scoring 2 goals and adding 4 assists in 10 games played.
“Aiden is a reliable two-way defenseman that plays in all situations.” says Coach Kevin Hasselberg. “Aiden is a player that studies the game extensively and has committed himself to his team, teammates and his personal development. He has developed his leadership skills and represents the team and the League with integrity, composure, and class. We are very fortunate to have Aiden play three full seasons as a Dragon and look forward to watching his development over the course of his college career.”
The Drumheller Dragons would like to thank the Lindenwood University coaching staff and Head Coach Rick Zombo for all their recruiting efforts and invested time following Aiden.
We would also like to extend a special thank you to Kyle Chase for his assistance in this recruiting process.

Dragons back on ice Saturday

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The AJHL announced the season will resume, and the Dragons will be back on the ice this Saturday to take on the Okotoks Oilers.
The league announced new two-team cohort groups and game schedule for the next two weeks of competition under the AJHL Return to Play Plan. The Dragons will be hosting the Oilers on April 24, and then hit the road to face them on Sunday afternoon in Okotoks.
“We got eight games under our belt and we are looking to get to 10 through the end of April,” said Dragons coach Kevin Hasselberg. “There is potential for us to play for another four weeks after these two weeks, but that remains to be determined by Mr. COVID.”
He says the players are grateful to get a chance to play, even under these conditions.
“When something strips you from the opportunity to play the game, like this, it is really hard on the guys, the staff, and the people who are invested in the games,” he said. “I guess more than anything you are grateful and appreciate the things that are provided to you and you get an understanding of how quickly they can be taken away.”
Throughout the first eight games this spring the Dragons are playing .500 hockey and seeing progress.
“The fact we are a week away from playing two more games is pretty exciting for the guys… but we have to prepare one day at a time,” he said.
For senior players, the challenge also comes when planning the next step of their career.
“The challenges that existed before were at one level, and now the NCAA has made eligibility rule changes and giving the opportunity for seniors to come back for a fifth-year who would have lost that year of eligibility and the opportunity to play,” he said. ‘It is just a trickle-down effect from top to bottom and everyone has to absorb a little bit.”
“They have to really push themselves right now to give themselves a chance.”
He adds beyond the NCAA there are many opportunities for players.
“There are other options and certainly we have had a lot of players who have had success at the ACAC level and the university sport level throughout Canada. I think the opportunity to walk away with an education is really at the forefront, and when players look back at it they will be thankful to have those opportunities,” said Hasselberg.
With two games slated this week, Hasselberg feels they are lucky to have the opportunity.
“The sacrifices everyone has made, it is truly amazing for us to play. We have a ton of people to thank for this opportunity. We certainly don’t want to overlook the challenges people have faced through the pandemic,” he said. ‘We are just very thankful we get to play the game and will take whatever is given.”

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