Every wees for the remainder of the AJHL season, we’ll take a look at some of the most dominant weekly performances in the league. Each team will consist of 3 forwards, two defensemen and a goaltender. Both stats and strength of schedule will help determine who belongs on the BTI Team of the Week.
Forward: Zafir Rawji, Olds Grizzlys
Despite a slow start to the season with the Sherwood Park Crusaders, the October 1st trade that sent Rawji to the Olds Grizzlys seems to have helped the 18-year-old blossom into a strong player, and a potential star in the league. While a 1-2-0 team record makes this pick seem foolish, Rawji was one of few bright spots for the Grizzlys, as he picked up at least a point in all three games this week, including his first AJHL hat trick in a 7-1 win over the Calgary Canucks on Saturday. Along with linemates Bryce Osepchuk and Logan Bromhead, Rawji spearheads a roster looking to make a name for themselves in this league. Zafir Rawji will look to continue his hot start with Olds this weekend, as they visit the Drumheller Dragons on Friday, and the Okotoks Oilers on Saturday.
Forward: Matthew McKim, Bonnyville Pontiacs
In his first season in the AJHL, Matthew McKim is quickly making himself a household name, as he is second in scoring for the Pontiacs, and currently sits 3rd in assists league-wide, trailing a pair of players in Sherwood Park. McKim continued his torrid pace to start the year over the last week, potting a goal and five assists for a Bonnyville squad who pulled out two wins and a shootout loss to Fort MacMurray over the week. While some players may have had more impressive stat lines, McKim was incredibly clutch for the Pontiacs, as he assisted on both games winning goals, as well as the goal that sent their game in Fort Mac to extra hockey. McKim will lead his team into Grande Prairie, for a two-game weekend series against the Storm.
Forward: Sean Chisholm, Brooks Bandits
The rookie out of Caledonia, Ontario has proven yet again that Brooks has some of the best scouts in the league, as Chisholm has been playing some of his best hockey as of late. The 18-year-old exploded for back to back two-goal outings, against Drayton Valley, and Spruce Grove. While a quiet outing on the road in Okotoks made things tight for Brooks, the two-goal game at home against the Saints helped the Bandits continue their league-best 17 game winning streak, and remain undefeated on the season. Chisholm’s sudden burst of offence, if sustained, gives Brooks an even more deadly team, with the depth guys helping out. They travel to Canmore to take on the Eagles on Tuesday before a home date with the Drumheller Dragons on Saturday and a trip to Calgary to battle the Canucks on Sunday.
Defence: Kabore Dunn, Fort MacMurray Oil Barons
The B.C. native’s rookie season has been quietly efficient as a stay-at-home defenseman, who has been able to put points up for the MOB. 5 points in 4 games for the defenseman, including his first two AJHL goals, helped Fort Mac to a 3-1-0 record over their four games of the week. The Shattuck St. Mary’s alum has played significant minutes in some extremely tough games for the MOB, including four against Sherwood Park and Spruce Grove. Dunn has played very well on the point for the Oil Barons, and his 5 points are a testament to his play this season. Kabore will look to continue his play and his team’s hot streak when they play host to the Whitecourt Wolverines for a two-game set this weekend.
Defence: Michael Benning, Sherwood Park Crusaders
The 2020 NHL draft prospect and Denver commit have had an exceptional season thus far for the Crusaders, and he continued it this week, posting one goal and three assists while helping his team keep pace with Brooks for the top spot in the league. Two games with Whitecourt and a matinee against the Grande Prairie Storm resulted in 3 wins for the Cru, who improved to 17-1-0, and Benning was a significant part in the successes, as usual, by scoring the eventual winner in Whitecourt, and riding a 4 game point streak into Tuesday’s matchup with Drayton Valley. Benning and his teammates will follow that with a home and home set with the Spruce Grove Saints, starting Friday in Sherwood Park.
Goaltender: Ashton Abel, Okotoks Oilers
The Okotoks won 2 of 3 this week, losing only to the undefeated Brooks Bandits in a shootout. Abel started the loss to Brooks. He responded to that by blanking the Camrose Kodiaks on Saturday, as the Fort Macmurray native looks to continue a start that has seen him post career-best averages to this point of the season, helping Okotoks to 14-2-2 record through 18 games, and closing in on a career year in wins in his first season with the Oilers. Okotoks will visit the Canucks on Friday, then play host to Olds on Saturday, as Abel and his teammates look to narrow the gap with Brooks for first in the South Division.