Kodiaks slay Dragons for second-straight win
Camrose Kodiaks forward Carson Welke skates past Drumheller Dragons Clay Keely (7) and Nate Keeley (21) during the Kodiaks 3-2 win in AJHL action in Camrose on Saturday night. Josh Aldrich/Camrose Canadian
Kodiaks 3, Dragons 2
The Camrose Kodiaks showed their win over the Brooks Bandits that snapped their 11-game losing streak was no fluke.
The Kodiaks doubled down with their second win in 24 hours by beating the Drumheller Dragons 3-2 in Camrose on Saturday night.
The line of Jacob Kendall, Matt Dykstra and Brock Bremer did all the damage for the Kodiaks, accounting for all three goals while Griffin Bowerman was outstanding in making 36 saves for his second consecutive win. The Dragons got goals from Brett Edwards and Kaden Hanas while Hunter Virostek made 28 saves in the loss.
"What I really like is the buying in part, they trust in the process," said Kodiaks head coach and general manager Boris Rybalka.
The Kodiaks built a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Bremer and Dykstra, but Dragons tied it in the second period with their two goals. Kendall scored the winner early in the third period and the Kodiaks locked it down from there defensively.
"The positive out of the whole thing is they regrouped," said Rybalka. "The last month a goal here for them and then they would get another one and all of a sudden we'd be down by one. But here we refocused and found a way."
Making the two wins more impressive is they did it without their leading scorer. Ryan Hartman has been sidelined since their Nov. 3 loss to the Bandits with a concussion, and is out indefinitely. While the Kendall, Dykstra and Bremer line scored all three goals on Saturday, their other two main lines looked just as dangerous as Carson and Mckenzie Welke have formed an instant kinship with newcomer Ryan Mckinnon, and Nic Correale, Kyler Kupka and Tyler Schendel were dangerous all night as well.
"You look at it, Hartman's gone, but then somebody else steps up," said Rybalka. "These weren't two easy games this weekend … and it's nice to see other guys step up."
The big thing for the Kodiaks has been their recommitment to team defence. Early in the season there was a sense that they were going to try to outscore the other team with their young blue-line and talented crop of forwards. That mentality did not work, and over the last month Rybalka has retooled the lineup and their game plan.
"Defence wins championships, and we said we had to cut a goal a game off … last night we had two against and we win, tonight we had two against we win," said Rybalka. "It's not rocket science. If we keep cutting the goals against down, we're going to be successful."
The Kodiaks now face their rival Olds Grizzlys on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Grizzlys are the only team in the Alberta Junior Hockey League South Division standings below the Kodiaks, but the Grizz are coming off an equally impressive weekend having beat the Dragons on Friday and the Okotoks Oilers 3-2 on Saturday. The Canmore Eagles, the team in sixth place in the south lost 5-3 to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons on Saturday and are now just two points up on Camrose.
"We have to control what we can control, we have to worry about ourselves," said Rybalka. "That's how close the division is ... it's not going to be a run-away."