Bulldogs 5 Thunder 3
On the opening night of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) season Friday, Blackfalds Bulldogs forward Brendan Ross was held off the scoresheet.
Twenty-four hours later in the home opener, Ross had a breakout game recording a hat trick and an assist in a 5-3 win over the Drayton Valley Thunder.
The Calgary, native gave credit to his linemates Layne Loomer (1G, 1A) and Edward Moskowitz (2A) for their performances.
“Eddie brings a lot of skill on the line with me and Loomer so I’ve got nothing but great things to say to those two,” he said.
“I’m looking to take more of a shooting role on the powerplay a lot more this year so hopefully I can bring out the one-timer every once and a while.”
Ross’ early success is a result of skating four times a week throughout the offseason.
“I was also working on that half wall shot which I scored with today as well as foot speed. I put in lots of work.”
Head coach Doug Quinn was impressed by Ross’ development and said he’s someone they can count on.
“I’m super happy with his growth,” he said.
“He was the playoff MVP last year and he’s taken his game to another level. We had so many injuries in exhibition I could hardly rest him. To see him get rewarded tonight he looks really strong. He’s going to have a great year.”
Drayton Valley opened the scoring within the first two minutes of the game. Thunder forward Anton Yatsyshin was sprung on a breakaway off a pass from Alexey Trischuk and he fired it past Bulldogs goaltender Ethan Morrow.
It didn’t take the Bulldogs long to respond.
Just two minutes later, Ross buried an opportunity in front of the net assisted by Moskowitz.
Later, a penalty by the Bulldogs came back to bite them.
At the midway point of the period, the Thunder capitalized on the powerplay on a tally off the stick of Trischuk.
In the middle frame, the Bulldogs tied the game 2-2 when Ross notched his second goal of the game on the powerplay just over a minute into the period.
Drayton Valley took the lead once again near the eight-minute mark scored by Dryden Tomkow.
However, the Bulldogs owned the rest of the period and took their first lead of the game on back-to-back goals scored by forwards Layne Loomer and Josh Sale.
In the third period, the Bulldogs received relentless pressure from the Thunder but Ross scored the empty netter to secure the win.
Bulldogs goaltender Ethan Morrow looked strong in net making 22 saves on 25 shots.
Quinn explained he’s been really happy with the work ethic and the commitment made by his team.
“Obviously, on opening night at home there’s lots of energy in the stands and I thought we were a little uptight early,” he said.
“We hung in there and I thought at times we tried to do a little too much… Overall, I wanted the team to work hard, and continue to improve, and I’ve seen that.
“I’m happy with the win but you know coaches are never happy, so lot’s still to work on.”
On Friday night the Bulldogs opened the season with a 5-2 win in Olds over the Grizzlies and after the home opener, the Bulldogs will host the Drumheller Dragons on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.