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Last updateThu, 29 Feb 2024 12pm

Dragons step it up in the New Year

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Casey Fratkin fights off a defender versus Canmore last Wednesday, January 6. The Dragons are 4-0 for 2010, and are playing the Olds Grizzlies tonight.
mailphoto by Lisa Clarke

    It took a new year, a couple changes and just four games, and the Dragons are back in the hunt for a playoff berth.
    The Dragons started the New Year with four wins in a row, most recently capping it with an 11-4 victory over the Drayton Valley Thunder on Sunday, January 10 afternoon, .
    “Our focus in the dressing room is still on the process. To keep it rocking and try to get that pendulum to swing more consistently to the positive side,” said coach Dan Price. “Our guys have been doing a great job. They have been extremely focused, extremely tenacious and extremely supportive of each other. They are moving the puck well, doing things right and doing difficult things like blocking shots and going to the net. That is still our focus, doing things right very well.”


    The Dragons’ streak began on the road on January 4 versus the Calgary Canucks. The Dragons out shot the Canucks 28-28 on their way to victory. Evan Warner scored on the powerplay in the first period, and Jason Kenney scored the winner 2:50 into the third period.
    The momentum continued on Wednesday, January 6 as the Dragons played the Lloydminster Bobcats at home. The Bobcats opened the scoring in the first period, but in the second, the Dragons notched two on the powerplay from Sam Lawson and Mike Marianchuk to take the lead.
    On Saturday, January 9 the team’s home stand continued as they took on the Canmore Eagles. Colin Bergman and Marianchuk each scored to put the Dragons up 2-0 in the first 10 minutes of the game. Canmore tied it up but with a second left in the first period, Marianchuk put the Dragons back on top 3-2.
    The Eagles tied it early in the second period, but Bergman scored his second of the night to lead going into the third period. Doug Jessey put it out of reach in the third period.
    As exciting this game was, fans were in for a offensive flurry on Sunday afternoon.
    “The biggest thing in that game was our response to adversity. Drayton Valley scored 25 seconds into the game,” said Price. “We reset mentally and answered. It seemed like every time they scored, our guys stuck to the process. We really felt like if we played the game the right way we would eventually get the lead and hold onto the lead.”
He said as Drayton Valley began to press, it opened up opportunities for the Dragons.
    In the end the Dragons were three - for- seven on the powerplay with a balanced offensive effort with goals from Marianchuk, Kennedy, Justin Tateson, Warner, Dillon Houghton, Doug Jones and Sam Lawson.
    Marcus Toye had two, as did new addition Pat Turville, who until this week, was playing a fill-in roll.
    “He has been playing Junior B for the Mountianview Colts this season and he has been joining us from time to time as an affiliate call-up. He is the exact definition of a Dragon. He is very intelligent and he is a really good person, lots of character. He is obviously a very good player and he is extremely competitive. We have asked him to stay with us the rest of the season and have signed him to a Hockey Canada Card. He’ll be a Dragon full time going forward,” said Price.
    There have been a few more changes. Justin Morello’s wish has been granted. He has been dealt from the Dragons to the St. Albert Steel for Nick Scott. Scott is a 1990 born left defenseman from Adrossan. Price says he is a versatile player and a solid two-way guy.
    “From everything we have been told he is a great kid, so he’ll help us on the back end,” said Price.
    Corey Tyrell is off to the Flin Flon Bombers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League in exchange for Derek Ginnell and future considerations.
    “Ginnell is a 1991-born forward from Medicine Hat,” said Price. “We’ve been after Derek for quite some time, and we were able to get him before the deadline.”
    He played midget hockey with current Dragons Justin Tateson. Price says this helps make the transition to becoming a Dragon smoother.   
    “We have an unbelievably tight group in there. If you can’t fit into this dressing room you can’t fit in anywhere, this is a very good group of guys,” said Price.
    The Dragons are in action tonight versus the Olds Grizzlies at home. Game time is 7:30 p.m.


Great expectations for Drumheller Dragons

Groundwork in place for strong second half for
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The Drumheller Dragons head coach Dan Price feels there is something great in store for his team come the new year.
    This year saw a dramatic change to the Drumheller Dragons dressing room. The team appointed a new coach, and with Dan Price came a new staff and a young exciting roster.
    While this seismic shift has produced a slow start, with the team trailing in the south division, Price says he sees some big things happening for this team.
    “The players have taken great steps so far this year, to set themselves up very well for sustained success in the second half and the years to come,” said Price. “Now comes the fun part. We have to maintain that focus everyday to keep working and keep improving. But it has been a lot of heavy lifting in the first half to lay this ground work, and now that we have laid it, we get to enjoy  the fruits of our labour, hopefully.”
    As the Christmas break approached, The Mail spoke with head coach Price to reflect on the first half of the season and what is coming for the Dragons.
    While they are sitting in last place in the south, Price points out with two games in hand, the Dragons are well within striking distance. While fans worry about the team making it to the off season, Price doesn’t want it to become a distraction.
    “We are really one point back if we win those two games. I don’t think it is healthy to be concerned with the standings. I think that is an external focus and it is distracting,” said Price. “You are not going to play harder or less hard based on where you are at in the standings, at least you shouldn’t. You should play as hard as you possibly can every day. Standings are important as a result but they are not important with what we are trying to do.”
    This season has come with a number of challenges, and through it he has seen great amounts of improvement.
    “There has been a tremendous amount of growth on our team. Obviously there has been a lot of learning, and a lot of player personnel changes, it has been a long process for the players getting to know each other, learn about each other and care about each other,” said Price. “When you think about it there are only three players we have now that were here at the beginning of this season. That is Bergman,  Kennedy and Jessey. Everyone else is pretty new. That is an extremely significant fact. Everyone needed time to get to learn how to play the game her and how we relate to each other. That has been the biggest accomplishment in the first half of the year.”
    This has led to a  group that shows their heart on their sleeves.
    “You are not able to see inside the walls of the dressing room, but I have to say this is one of the tightest groups of players in the entire Alberta Junior Hockey League." They are just unbelievably cohesive and they understand each other and care for each other, they like hanging out with each other and they look out for each other. That’s taken a long time to develop, but now we have the right mix of guys and the right culture in place to foster that.”
    “I’m not trying to call our own shots, but I just have a feeling that something special is going to happen in the second half because this is such a special group.”
    He says as the team improves, the fans  will get to see some great hockey.
    “The fans deserve a winner and they will get a winner,” said Price. “The players are committed to doing it the right way. They are committed to improving and to supporting one other. To do it in a way that can be sustained over several years  takes  a long time to build. The wins will come, the players know that, the coaches know that. This is why I get this feeling from this team. The groundwork has been laid for the second half.”
    He has enjoyed his first  season as a head coach. Previous to coming to the Drumheller Dragons, Price served as an assistant coach and an associate coach for the WHL Chilliwack Bruins.
    “I love the people. We have great people that play for the team, and they are great players as well. We have a great coaching staff and trainers, and a great scouting staff. Our owners are extremely supportive, intelligent and generous,”  said Price. “Our community is second to none. They love hockey and support our team, they are knowledgeable fans and we love playing in front of them.”
    “You can’t ask for a better place to coach.”

Jeff Hendricks Memorial game tops $3,500

 

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colbergs.jpgDragons fans came out in droves to support the great work the Jeff Hendricks Memorial Scholarship fund has done in the last four seasons.
    The last Drumheller Dragons home game before the Christmas break has traditionally been in dedication to the Jeff Hendricks Memorial Scholarship Fund. Hendricks was a former Drumheller Falcon junior hockey player, who passed away in 2006. The fund established in his name has been used annually to help Drumheller Dragons, and other community hockey players with their education through a scholarship, and also sponsor a youngster to attend the Drumheller Dragons Summer Hockey School, as well as other endeavours.


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