The Drumheller Dragons, backed by an impressive performance in the net by Jonny Hogue took a run at the Brooks Bandits at home on Tuesday night.
The Bandits, who are ranked 5th in the country and have an explosive offense were in Drumheller, and while they won 4-1, it was a lot closer than the score makes it appear.
“Brooks is highly explosive, and we talked about how they come out really hard in the first period. We had four penalties, they dictated the play,” said head coach Brian Curran. “Jonny did everything he could to keep us in the game.” Hogue was unstoppable in the first period, fending off 21 shots in the first period alone. The Brooks Bandits found the net 1:17 into the second period. Levi Wunder answered back midway through the period to tie the game short handed, but the Bandits ended the period up 2-1.
The Dragons stood strong for most of the third period and had some chances, but a late Bandits goal put them up 3-1, and an empty netter in the dying seconds sealed it.
Coach Curran liked the effort of his team, especially on defense early on.
“The defense played hard, I was disappointed in our forwards in the first period as a group. In the second and third, I thought we played much better. Obviously, they capitalized on some great bounces for sure, they are going to get their chances, but Johny was there. I thought we played with a lot more emotion and passion in the second period.”
One takeaway for Curran is that mentally, the team is able to break down and process how to play against very good clubs like the Bandits.
“You can’t deny they went on a 16 or 17 game win streak. That means they are one of the elite teams in the league. My challenge to the guys was to stop looking at them as the names on the back of their jerseys, and start playing the team,” said Curran. “I try to go through experiences with the ‘player-teams’ that I played against when I was in the NHL. If we always came into Edmonton and worried about all those great games and the names on the jerseys, we would be in trouble all the time.”
“Skill is skill, and goal scoring is goal scoring, you can’t buy that stuff. But human heart and emotion, and playing by the system and paying attention to the smallest details, teams can win. I have had teams where that has been proven year after year. I am hoping that second and third period showed our guys we can play with the upper teams.”