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Historic season ends for Drumheller Dragons

The Drumheller Dragons season ended in Game 4 of the AJHL championships. Coach Curran says there is potential to put another very competitive team on the ice next season.

And what a ride it was…
    The Drumheller Dragons beat the odds time and time again this season, however a strong Spruce Grove Saints team were crowned the AJHL Champions last Tuesday night in front of more than 1,600 fans at Drumheller Memorial Arena.
    “I couldn’t be more proud of our guys. We fought a lot of adversity, we lost a lot of good players at the wrong times this year…I think we brought some entertainment back into hockey, so I am proud of my players, I am proud of the ownership and am proud of who we are,” said coach Brian Curran.
    He adds that he is appreciative to the fan support throughout the season and the playoffs.
    It was the classic playoff scenario, the Dragons were fighting to stay alive and the Saints were looking to win a championship on their own terms. Spruce Grove scored early and held the lead through the first period. With  1:18 left in the first, the Dragons had a break with a five-minute powerplay, but were not able to capitalize.
    It took fighting off an interference penalty charged to Colton Vannucci early in the second period to inject some energy back into the game and Vannucci connected from Trent Ouellette to tie the game six minutes into the second.
    Defensively the Dragons staved off seven powerplays, but were not able to connect in overtime to stay alive.
    Only 19 seconds into overtime Jake Mykitiuk broke away from the pack and scored the winner for the Saints.
    “Hats off to Spruce Grove, they deserved it, their staff did a great job coaching and their players bought into it, and they are good champions,” said Curran.

The Spruce Grove Saints celebrate their AJHL championship after defeating Dragons 2-1 on Tuesday night.


    The Dragons’ run enlivened the Drumheller fans but also caught the attention of the league. AJHL commissioner Ryan Bartoshyk said the parity in the south made for an exciting season.
    “I looked back to the last time that it wasn’t Camrose or Brooks from the south, and I think it was 1999,” said Bartoshyk.
    “From the league perspective there was a lot of parity, and it shows that anyone could be here and that is a good feeling for all our clubs to have at the beginning of the year.”
    The progress the Dragons have made impressed Bartoshyk.
    “I was at the first game when Brooks played Drumheller this season and to see the strides they made from Game 1 to here in Game 4 of the finals is a credit to the organization itself.”
    The abrupt end to the season brings many changes for the Dragons, and this run brings life lessons.
    “I told a lot of our young players they need to take a look at our 20 year olds,” said Curran.
    “One of the experiences I hope they gain from it is to watch when a young man is finished his junior career. They say, am I going to college or am I going to work? The life questions come. This is something I think the young players saw tonight and I hope it is ingrained in their brain. When you have an opportunity to go to a finals like we did, not a lot of teams are going to get that chance…we had an opportunity to win a championship and what an experience in itself that is.”
    It will take the players a little while to get over the sting of the loss, but when they do coach Curran says there will be some good memories.
    “It was disappointing tonight, it was a very hurtful thing and I hope our guys learned some lessons, but when I look back and reflect on the season I will look back with smiles,” said Curran.
    Looking ahead, he is confident the right pieces are in place for success.
    “There are a lot of lessons from this but we could potentially have as good or better team next year which is very encouraging. We are going to have to make some moves but not too many and we can be a team that could come back and play very strongly next year,” said Curran.


Dragons rout Crusaders with 6-3 victory

    The Drumheller Dragons are building momentum following a big 6-3 win over the Sherwood Park Crusaders on Saturday, November 23.
    The Dragons got off to an early lead with a great charge by Alex Bechtold, who passed to Ethan James, who scored the first goal of the night at 3:33 in the first period. Jarrell Pinchuk increased the Dragons’ lead to 2-0 several minutes later.

Ethan James, right, scored the Dragons first goal of the night in their 6-3 win over the Sherwood Park Crusaders. The Dragons will be looking to keep their winning streak alive this weekend on the road versus Lloydminster. They return home on December 7 and 8 to fac ethe Olds Grizzlys and Fort McMurray Oil Barons.

    The Dragons were in control most of the first, but gave a little ground during the later half of the period. The Crusaders took advantage of a powerplay opportunity after Dakota Zaharichuk was given two minutes for roughing.
    In the second period the Dragons dominated, scoring three more goals. Zaharichuk, Christopher Rauckman, and Mitchell Cook rocketed the Dragons to a 5-1 lead.
    “The first 10 minutes we played well, but then I thought Sherwood Park outplayed us the last 10 minutes of the period. After that, I think we played a very good second period,” said head coach and general manager Brian Curran.
    “We did a lot of good things. Our goaltending and powerplay were strong, and I think our penalty kill, even though they got scored on, did a great job.”
    Rauckman would give the Dragons a huge boost with a shorthanded goal at 4:26 in the third period. The Crusaders did manage to make some headway in the final 10 minutes of the game, adding two more goals, but it wasn’t enough.
    “It was one of our better games. We needed to see that, especially at home,” said Curran.
    The win gives the Dragons 32 points. They are currently in third place of the AJHL Southern Divison and one point behind the Okotoks Oilers.
    The Dragons, along with the rest of the AJHL have some tough decisions ahead. By December 1, all teams are required to have a maximum of 23 players. The Dragons will have to cut a few players from their roster.
    “By December 1, we have to be down to 23 players,” said Curran. “You have to watch chemistry and you can’t mess it up. We have enough that we can play four strong lines. I don’t think we’re going to do much up front, but with the injuries on our defence, we’re going to have to make some big decisions.”
    The Dragons are in action again this weekend. They head on the road to face Lloydminster on Friday. Their next home game isn’t until December 7 against the Olds Grizzlys.

Dragons rout Crusaders with 6-3 victory (2)

    The Drumheller Dragons are building momentum following a big 6-3 win over the Sherwood Park Crusaders on Saturday, November 23.
    The Dragons got off to an early lead with a great charge by Alex Bechtold, who passed to Ethan James, who scored the first goal of the night at 3:33 in the first period. Jarrell Pinchuk increased the Dragons’ lead to 2-0 several minutes later.

Ethan James, right, scored the Dragons first goal of the night in their 6-3 win over the Sherwood Park Crusaders. The Dragons will be looking to keep their winning streak alive this weekend on the road versus Lloydminster. They return home on December 7 and 8 to face the Olds Grizzlys and Fort McMurray Oil Barons.

    The Dragons were in control most of the first, but gave a little ground during the later half of the period. The Crusaders took advantage of a powerplay opportunity after Dakota Zaharichuk was given two minutes for roughing.
    In the second period the Dragons dominated, scoring three more goals. Zaharichuk, Christopher Rauckman, and Mitchell Cook rocketed the Dragons to a 5-1 lead.
    “The first 10 minutes we played well, but then I thought Sherwood Park outplayed us the last 10 minutes of the period. After that, I think we played a very good second period,” said head coach and general manager Brian Curran.
    “We did a lot of good things. Our goaltending and powerplay were strong, and I think our penalty kill, even though they got scored on, did a great job.”
    Rauckman would give the Dragons a huge boost with a shorthanded goal at 4:26 in the third period. The Crusaders did manage to make some headway in the final 10 minutes of the game, adding two more goals, but it wasn’t enough.
    “It was one of our better games. We needed to see that, especially at home,” said Curran.
    The win gives the Dragons 32 points. They are currently in third place of the AJHL Southern Divison and one point behind the Okotoks Oilers.
    The Dragons, along with the rest of the AJHL have some tough decisions ahead. By December 1, all teams are required to have a maximum of 23 players. The Dragons will have to cut a few players from their roster.
    “By December 1, we have to be down to 23 players,” said Curran. “You have to watch chemistry and you can’t mess it up. We have enough that we can play four strong lines. I don’t think we’re going to do much up front, but with the injuries on our defence, we’re going to have to make some big decisions.”
    The Dragons are in action again this weekend. They head on the road to face Lloydminster on Friday. Their next home game is December 7 against the Olds Grizzlys.


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