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Drumheller Dragons fight through adversity

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    After a strong start, the Drumheller Dragons have faced adversity, but for a developing team, coaches are confident they haven’t played their best hockey yet.
    The Dragons ended the week and the natural first half of the season before the Christmas break with a win and two losses.
    On Friday, December 15, the Dragons hosted the Sherwood Park Crusaders and Jordan Taupert opened the scoring just 23 seconds in. Goals followed from Joren Patenaude and Brayden Nicholetts, and the Dragons were up 3-0 after the first period. The Crusaders scored one to end the second period 3-1, Dragons.
    In the third period, three quick powerplay goals starting at the midpoint sealed the Dragons’ fate. After an empty net goal with 16 seconds left the Crusaders went on to a 5-3 win.
    On Saturday, December 16, the Dragons had a chance to redeem themselves versus the Grande Prairie Storm. The Dragons went up 2-0 in the first with goals from Nate Keeley and Troy Dudley.
    In the second, Kaden Hanas scored his fifth and sixth goal as a Dragon to put them up 4-0. Two quick goals put the Storm back in the game. Derek Buds scored shorthanded, but Grande Prairie came back on the powerplay to end the period 5-3 Dragons.
    In the third period, the Storm and the Dragons traded goals, as Alex Rotundo and Markus Boguslavsky kept it out of reach. Dragons win 7-5.
    On Tuesday, December 19, the Dragons were in Canmore, and the Eagles jumped ahead by two goals before Tyler Kreklewich scored in the first, ending the period down 2-1. The Eagles opened the second with two more quick short-handed goals before Brett Edwards and Nicholetts scored. The Eagles kept the separation, however, ending the second 5-3.
    The Dragons pulled to within striking distance with a goal from Andrew Kartusch, but the Eagles sealed it with another goal, maintaining the final 6-4.
    Despite this, the Dragons remain in the third spot in the AJHL Viterra South.
    “I think we have a great group, but I don’t think we have played our best hockey consistently, so I think there is a lot of room for improvement in our game,” said head coach Kevin Hasselberg.” I am fairly confident our players will get there, but it has been a challenge to get there and stay there consistently.”
    “I think a lot of our challenges are mental. When we go on the ice in practice with our team they work hard, and they are very good at what they do. It is just applying those same concepts when there is a little more pressure involved on the ice,” he said.
    Hasselberg is hopeful the team will show continual improvement.
    “We had a great start to the year and those points gave us a bit of a cushion to get us through the challenge we are going through now, and we have some work to do now. We are going to stay the course, we’ll keep working on those challenges and at the end of the day when February or March rolls around, that is when you want to be playing your best.”


Stonnell returns to Dragons Roster

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    There is a familiar face back on the ice for the Dragons as Bradley Stonnell, puts his black and orange jersey back on.
     Stonnell was an integral member of the Dragons roster in the 2016-2017 season, racking up 12 goals  and 26 assists in 58 games.
     Stonnell headed south to Cedar Rapids to play for the RoughRiders in the USHL for the 2017-2018 season.             He had a goal and an assist in 16 games. He has returned to the valley and is back on the Dragons’ active roster.
    “Bradley is a welcome addition to our roster,” said coach Kevin Hasselberg.             “He is familiar with all the players and his transition back into the room should be effortless. He will impact our back end and start contributing immediately.”
    Stonnell is a 19-year-old defenseman with keen offensive skills. Originally from Surrey, British Columbia, he played one game with Surrey Eagles of the BCHL and played his midget hockey with Valley West Hawks.
    Coach Hasselberg sees the addition of Stonnell as a positive for Stonnell and for the Dragons.
 “We are excited to add Bradley and begin working with him to get him to the college level”, said Hasselberg.

Dragons drop three on road trip

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    The Drumheller Dragons started the week strong with an at home blowout versus the Calgary Canucks but dropped three on a busy road trip up north.
     On Tuesday, December 5, the Dragons hosted the Canucks and Star of the Game Alex Rotundo scored on the powerplay, his first as a Drumheller Dragons, in the first period to take the early lead. In the second period, the Dragons lit up the Canucks with a second power play goal from Tyler Kreklewich, a goal from Braydon Nicholetts and then Rotundo scored his second.
    The scoring continued in the third period with Brett Wieschorster finding the net 5:45 in.  The Canucks finally scored at the midway point, but Brett Edwards scored and Kreklewich got his second to end the game 7-1.
    Over the weekend, the Dragons were on the road but were without Derrick Budz when they took on the Fort McMurray Oil Barons on Friday, December 8. Budz was serving a three-game suspension for a gross misconduct.
    The Dragons outshot the Oil Barons 39-34, but Fort McMurray shut out the Dragons winning 4-0 in a physical battle.
    On Saturday, December 9, the Dragons were in Bonnyville to take on the Pontiacs.     
    Again, the Dragons outshot their opponents 37-28, but the Pontiacs jumped out 2-0. Andrew Kartusch scored to end the first period down 2-1. In the second period, the Pontiacs scored 2:50 in, but then Tyson Scott answered back to end the second down 3-2.
    The Pontiacs owned the third period with three goals to win the game 6-2.
    On Sunday afternoon, the Dragons were in Lloydminster to take on the Bobcats. After a scoreless first period the Bobcats went up 2-0 in the second period, and built on their lead in the third period and were up 4-0 before Scott found the net with 1:20 left in the game.         It was too little too late as the Dragons went on to lose 4-1.
     The Dragons have only three games before the Christmas break. This Friday, December 15, they are at home to take on the Sherwood Park Crusaders and then the Grande Prairie Storm on Saturday. On Tuesday, December 19, they are in Canmore to take on the Eagles.


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