Drag­ons end chal­leng­ing sea­son on high note

The Drumheller Mail - - SPORTS - Mailphoto by Pa­trick Ko­lafa Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

In a sea­son filled with tri­als, the Drag­ons were able to push the Cal­gary Canucks to five games, and de­spite a bow­ing out in the first round of the play­offs, the sea­son ended on a high note.

The 2017 sea­son came to an end for the Drag­ons last Wed­nes­day night, March 15 at the Max Bell Arena. The Canucks led by one af­ter the first pe­riod. And then four min­utes into the se­cond pe­riod, Cal­gary scored their se­cond. Drumheller con­tin­ued to out­shoot the Canucks, how­ever it took un­til the last two and half min­utes of the se­cond pe­riod be­fore the Drag­ons got on the score board as Cody Young scored on the power play.

Cal­gary scored four min­utes into the third pe­riod but three min­utes later Tyler Krek­lewich scored his tenth of the sea­son. That was as close as the Drag­ons would get as Cal­gary would score two more to win 5-2.

By Fri­day the Drag­ons were wrap­ping up exit in­ter­views and fit­ness test­ing. Coach Dar­ryl Olsen is send­ing off a group of play­ers that were tested phys­i­cally and men­tally through a sea­son of tur­moil.

“There were so many ups and downs through­out this sea­son. When I took over the team, talk about a try­ing sea­son, I had nine of my reg­u­lar play­ers in the stands and we went 12 games with­out a full ros­ter,” he said. “The whole time I was coach­ing, I didn’t have a full line-up.”

By play­off sea­son the Drag­ons had 20 dressed and a full week of prac­tice. He was im­pressed with how the play­ers re­acted.

“We all just gelled to­gether and the boys re­ally worked hard with the sys­tems I was im­ple­ment­ing,” he said. Only part of the chal­lenge was on the ice.

“Af­ter coach Cur­ran got fired, it was just get­ting them back on the pos­i­tive side of life and get­ting them ex­cited about be­ing a Drumheller Dragon again,” he said. “By tak­ing the Canucks all the way to Game 5, those boys are ex­cited and want to come back and be Dragon, which is awe­some.”

“I am very proud of what I did in the short pe­riod of time we had. We brought an ex­cit­ing brand of hockey back to Drumheller,” he said. “And talk about be­ing the youngest team in the league? These kids had to grow up fast.”

He adds that with how this group of young play­ers are de­vel­op­ing, he be­lieves they could be a RBC Cup con­tender.

Spring camp is just around the cor­ner for the Drag­ons, be­gin­ning on March 31 in Drumheller. They will also be head­ing north to Fort Saskatchewan for an­other spring camp.

The Drag­ons’ sea­son ended in Game 5 ver­sus the Cal­gary Canucks Wed­nes­day, March 15.

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