The Drumheller Dragons were ready for action this past weekend.
On Friday, March 2 in Calgary, the Dragons swept up 5 points winning the game 5 – 2 against the Calgary Canucks.
“I think our team has been phenomenal for the month of February and obviously the first weekend in March,” said Kevin Hasselberg, head coach of the Drumheller Dragons. “We’ve grown as a team all season and you want to be playing your best hockey when the next season approaches and that’s the playoffs. I think our group has accomplished that. Now it’s just a matter of maintaining and getting to the playoffs.”
The first period saw the most action as three of those points were put on the scoreboard. The Canucks claimed one point. Penalties were divided equally between Dragons player Brayden Nicholetts for slashing and Canucks player Jaxon Steele for tripping.
Dragons put another point on the scoreboard at 4:16 due to Brett Edwards efforts in the second period. Brady Risk and Bradley Stonnell assisted. As for penalties, both sides had a single two-minute penalty for roughing after the whistle.
Alex Rotundo assisted by Joshua Laferriere and Jordan Taupert scored the Dragons fifth and final goal at 5:26 of the third period. The Canucks then scored their second goal of the evening at 6:42.
Overall, the Dragons had one powerplay and 23 shots on net while the Canucks had two power plays and 19 shots on net.
The next day, Saturday, March 3, the Dragons were back at home to faceoff against the Brooks Bandits. The long-standing feud between the rivals was prevalent on the ice as soon as warm-up began.
“Proximity played a big part in that with Brooks being arguably one of our closest opponents when you look at the roadmap but I think there is a lot of history there even from previous coaches,” said Hasselberg. “I think a lot of things have evolved over the years creating that rivalry and once it’s there it doesn’t go away easily. [...] I think the fans have really embraced that as well.”
Classified as a staged fight, Nic Hamre, of the Brooks Bandits and Kaden Hanas, of the Dragons duked it out during the first period. Both face an automatic three-game suspension for their actions as part of Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) regulations.
“You have to walk that line and part of it is learning along the way but Kaden did what he had to do and what he felt was the right thing to do and it ended up being a momentum shifter for us as a hockey team,” said Hasselberg. “Unfortunately he has to suffer the consequences and our team has to suffer the consequences of not having him in the lineup but we will get through it and we are certainly proud of Kaden for his efforts.”
Hasselberg credits the success to a positive frame of mind shared amongst the team.
“I think our guys played as a team and they all shared a common vision and a common goal in that hockey game,” said Hasselberg. “You could tell from their body language to their competitiveness to the energy and enthusiasm on the bench that they wanted to be successful as a group and they stayed positive throughout the night regardless.”
The Dragons were down two to one in the second period but that didn’t stop the local team from pushing harder.
Tyler Kreklewich single-handedly scored Drumheller’s second point, creating a tie. Jordan Taupert assisted by Reese Jackson and Bradley Stonnell made the tiebreaker point. Neither side scored in the third period. The Brooks Bandits took 28 shots on net while the Dragons shot 29 on net.
“[...] There was no panic on our bench,” said Hasselberg. “They rallied behind each other and scored the next two and obviously played extremely hard and that’s what we did to earn the win.”
Billet families were recognized before the beginning of the game for their contribution throughout the season by hosting these men. 15 families host the 22 players from September until this April depending on how playoffs unfold.
The Dragons host the Calgary Canucks for their first series of the postseason on Thursday, March 8. Five games with the best of three will determine who will move on to the next round of playoffs.