Another exciting week of AJHL hockey is over, and another week in which it was proven that anybody is beatable.
We had the Spruce Grove Saints put the Whitecourt Wolverines 11-game win streak to an end, the Olds Grizzlys take down the Drumheller Dragons, and the Canmore Eagles end to their five game losing streak with a win over the AJHL champions: the Brooks Bandits.
At the end of the week, the AJHL standings have the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and Okotoks Oilers at the top of their respected divisions. The Spruce Grove Saints are currently the hottest team in the league with their five-game win streak after wins over the Wolverines, Mustangs, Canucks and Oil Barons twice. At the bottom, despite finding themselves on a win-streak the Olds Grizzlys still hold down the bottom spot in the South. Then up in the North, the Drayton Valley Thunder have sole possession of the eighth spot.
This week also marked the return of Crusaders star forward Ty Readman, and Riley Morris who’s missed the majority of the season – more on him later.
Now, let’s take a look at the six players that stood out this week:
Riley Morris – Okotoks Oilers
Riley Morris has finally returned from injury and has been absolutely dominating. In his three starts last week, Morris posted 0.66 goals against average; only conceding two goals in the process. The third-year netminder held a 0.973 save percentage and also grabbed himself a shutout against the Olds Grizzlys on Friday night: a team that was on a three-game win streak whilst averaging three goals per game heading into that matchup.
Morris is quickly establishing himself as the best goaltender in the AJHL. Himself and the Oilers will be put to the test next week, though, with a trip to Brooks and a home fixture against Bonnyville on the schedule.
Travis Verveda – Canmore Eagles
After only scoring one point in his previous eight games, the Eagles 1997-born defenceman’s offensive game came back to life last week. Verveda produced a couple of two-point nights against both Drumheller (November 14th) and Brooks (November 18th). His performance against the Dragons may not have been enough for his team to see a victory that night, however, it was enough for him to earn the Viterra Star of the Game. Later that week, Verveda picked up a couple of assists in a game against the Bandits with one coming in the second period on a Colton Young powerplay goal, and another on an empty net goal from Jake Ashton.
Canmore will need Verveda to stay in form if they want to avoid going on another lengthy losing streak.
Daniel Hilsendager – Lloydminster Bobcats
Hilsendager capped off this week with back-to-back two-point nights against a couple of North Division opponents. On Friday night, Hilsendager chipped in a with a couple of assists in an overtime victory over the Fort McMurray Oil Barons: a nice stat line against the third best defensive team in the North. The following night, the six-foot defenseman secured his team’s third win in a row on the powerplay with a huge slap shot from the slot. A clutch play by the Bobcats best player.
Ryan Cox – Sherwood Park Crusaders
What an acquisition Ryan Cox has been for the Crusaders. In his first eight games with the Crusaders C on his chest, he’s been able to produce a goal per game and has shown up multiple times when Sherwood Park needed him the most. In a matchup against the Storm on Wednesday night, Cox sent the game to overtime with 0.7 seconds left in the third period. The Crusaders did go on to lose that game, but nevertheless it was a huge goal for his team which gave them a point on the night. Additionally, Cox was involved in all four goals for the Cru that night, getting his name in the assist column three times. Fast forward to Sunday afternoon against the same opponent, the St Albert product put home a centering pass from Erik Miller to snap a four-game losing skid for his team.
Cox has done a great job handling the offense with the absence of Ty Readman. Now that Readman has returned to the lineup the only way is up for this Crusaders offense.
Will Conley – Fort McMurray Oil Barons
His team may not have had the greatest of weeks but those results can’t be put on assistant captain Will Conley. The Holy Cross commit dominated last week scoring four goals in three appearances including two game-tying goals. His biggest performances came on Friday night in an overtime loss to the Lloydminster Bobcats. Conley was involved in all three goals for the Oil Barons and sent the game to overtime with a goal with just 21 seconds remaining in the third. The Barons forward was also awarded the Viterra Star of the Game that night.
The next night against the Pontiacs, Conley got his name on the boxscore again after opening the scoring as the Barons went on to win 2-1.
Cody Laskosky – Olds Grizzlys
Another player on this list who has been a great acquisition for their team. Cody Laskosky was brought into the Grizzlys organization as part of the Ryley Smith trade with the Wolverines on October 20th. One month later and Laskosky has just had three straight games where he was named the Star of the Game.
It all began in Camrose this past Tuesday night when Laskosky extended the Grizzlys three-game win streak to four with a game-winning powerplay goal late in the third. Despite losing 5-0 to the Okotoks Oilers, the 1999-born forward still had a decent night for his team and was named the star of the game. His third consecutive star award came in a 5-1 victory over the Canucks in which he had two-goal game and picked up an assist.
This past week has proved that the Grizzlys did a great job in acquiring him from the Wolverines.