All to play for now

Photo Credit Sei Spo Press

All to play for now

The Drumheller Dragons have pushed the Canmore Eagles into a ‘must-win’ scenario in their Alberta Junior Hockey League playoff series.

The Dragons, the No. 3 seed in the South Division, took both games from the No. 6 Eagles in Canmore to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven, first-round series. The Eagles now must win each of the remaining three games to advance to the next round.

After the teams split the first two games played in Drumheller over the weekend, the series switched to Canmore for games Tuesday (March 14) and Wednesday (March 15).

Drumheller 3 at Canmore 2

On Tuesday after the teams played a scoreless first period, Canmore opened up a 2-0 lead in less than four minutes of the second period on a power-play goal by Vincent Scott and a from-behind-the-goal effort by Owen Jones.

Drumheller would get one back from Ty Daneault at 8:21. Then in the third period, Wil Christian tied the game at 3:56. It was followed by a power-play goal from Cyle Clayton at 7:26 that stood as the game winner.

Drumheller outshot Canmore 29-27 with Andreai Prcotor-Ramirez in goal for the Eagles and Garrett Fuller in goal for the Dragons.

Canmore finished 1-for-2 on the power play and Drumheller was 1-for-3.

Drumheller 2 at Canmore 1 (2OT)

On Wednesday, the two teams needed a second overtime period to settle matters.

For the fourth consecutive game, Canmore opened the scoring although it took until 1:44 of the third period when Logan Ziegler rifled home a cross-ice pass from Scott.

Ryan Henderson’s one-timer from the right wing boards off a face-off win by Connor Poffenroth would elude a screened Proctor-Ramirez and sail into the top corner to tie the game at 1-1 at 7:54 of the period.

There were good chances for both teams the remainder of the regulation and through the first overtime as the Eagles tried to even the series at two wins apiece.

It wasn’t to be though, as just 10 seconds into the second overtime period, Coy Pighin grabbed his own rebound off a breakaway attempt and scored uncontested to give the Dragons a dramatic victory and put his team within one win of a series victory.

Drumheller outshot Canmore 38-34 with Protor-Ramirez and Fuller guarding the goals.

On the power play, Canmore was 0-for-5 and Drumheller went 0-for3.

After losing the opening game, Drumheller rolled off three consecutive victories. Now Canmore must turn the tables and put together its own winning streak of three games if they hope to advance to the second round. Anything less would bring the Eagles’ season to an end.

Game 5 is scheduled for Friday (March 17), 7 p.m. at the Drumheller Memorial Arena. Canmore must also win Game 6 scheduled at the Canmore Recreation Centre for Sunday (March 19), beginning at 6 p.m., and Game 7 in Drumheller on Tuesday (March 21).

Playoff picture

The season did come to an end for two playoff teams on Wednesday.

In the South, the No. 4 Okotoks Oilers completed a sweep of the No. 5 Camrose Kodiaks, winning 4-1 following a 3-2 win on Tuesday.

In the other South series, the No. 7 Calgary Canucks stayed alive against the No. 2 Blackfalds Bulldogs with a 3-2 overtime win. The Bulldogs had taken a 3-0 lead in the series with a 6-2 win on Tuesday.

In the North, the No. 2 Whitecourt Wolverines swept the No. 7 Grande Prairie Storm 4-1 on Wednesday after posting a 7-6 overtime win on Tuesday.

The other two North series are knotted at two wins apiece: No. 3 Bonnyville Pontiacs versus No. 6 Lloydminster Bobcats – Bonnyville winning 7-4 on Tuesday and Lloydminster winning 5-4 in double overtime on Wednesday; and No. 4 Sherwood Park Crusaders versus No. 4 Fort McMurray Oil Barons – the Oil Barons winning 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday and the Crusaders winning 6-3 on Wednesday.

All remaining series resume on Friday at the higher seed’s arenas.