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The Latest Alberta Junior Hockey League News

Carder backstops Grizzlys to a pair of road victories
By Barry Williams
October 16, 2006
Olds, Albertan


Rookie netminder, Chad Carder, is making quite an impression with the Olds Grizzlys.
Last week he backstopped the Grizzlys to two important victories over AJHL south division rivals.
Playing at the Father David Bauer Arena, Carder was outstanding between the pipes as he blocked 39 shots in leading the Grizzlys to a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Royals in AJHL action played on Thursday Oct. 12 in Calgary.
It was a rewarding victory for Carder, 17, as he played his minor hockey in Calgary. He came to the Grizzlys from the Calgary Midget AA Bruins where he was a standout player.
Against the Royals, Carder was virtually flawless as he held them off the scoreboard for over fifty-nine minutes. With just thirteen seconds left in the game, Carder lost his bid for the shut-out as Sean Goodwin dented the twine on a penalty shot.
In the first period, Carder blocked 17 shots as the Grizzlys were the victim of several minor penalties. In most cases, a goaltender is the best penalty killer and Carder rose to the challenge making several miraculous saves while the Royals enjoyed the man advantage.
All three of the Grizzlys' goals came in the second period as Kyle Dorowicz, Curtis deBruyn and Shadoe Stoodley dented the twine behind Royals' netminder, Dan BaKalla, who finished the game with 22 saves.
On Sat. Oct.14 the Grizzlys journeyed to Drumheller and skated away with a commanding 5-1 victory over the Dragons.
Once again, Carder turned in a brilliant performance between the pipes blocking 28 shots in recording his third AJHL victory.
For the Grizzlys, Jordan Baker dented the twine twice and added a pair of assists to pace the Grizzlys offensively.
Other marksmen for the Grizzlys were Kurtis Ross, Trent Scott and Emery White. Foiling Carder's bid for the shutout was Ryley Hughes who netted a shorthanded goal for the Dragons midway through the first period.
In four games during the current 2006/2007 AJHL schedule, Carder has recorded three wins and an overtime loss. He has been stingy towards opposition shooters as he has posted a 1.78 goals against average and recorded a .942 save percentage.
Meanwhile, veteran Matthew Wong has struggled between the pipes posting a whopping 4.25 goals against average and a .846 save percentage.
Baker continues to lead the Grizzlys in scoring with 19 points on 5 goals and 14 assists. Dorowicz has recorded 5 goals and 13 assists for 18 points. Both Baker and Dorowicz are ranked within the top ten in AJHL scoring. Leading the pack in scoring is Grande Prairie Storm forward Curtis Sather with 34 points. In fact, the Storm have the top three scorers with Andre Blais, 28 points, and Donny boyd, 24 points, rounding out the top three AJHL scorers.
This week, the Grizzlys journey to Fort McMurray on Friday, Oct. 20 to tangle with the Oil Barons. They finish off a brief northern jaunt with a game in Bonnyville against the Pontiacs on Saturday, Oct. 21.
Next home action for the Grizzlys at the Olds Sports Complex is on Wednesday Oct.25 against the Spruce Grove Saints. On Friday, Oct. 27, the Grizzlys entertain the Sherwood Park Crusaders at the Sports Complex.


Moore signs with Red Deer Rebels
October 4, 2006
By Barry Williams
Olds Albertan

A very unique player has left the Olds Grizzlys to pursue other options in junior hockey.
On Tuesday, Oct. 3, forward Dustin Moore committed to join the Red Deer Rebels, of the Western Hockey League, for the remainder of the 2006-2007 WHL season.
Moore, a gifted goal scorer, donned the Olds Grizzlys' uniform for two and a half years and his presence on the ice and in the dressing room will be missed by the Grizzlys.
"While Moore was a member of the Olds Grizzlys, he was a very special player," said Kevin Hasselberg, Grizzlys Head Coach/General Manager.
According to Hasselberg, Moore was the type of player, who would step in play any role to contribute to the Grizzlys' success on the ice.
"He was well liked and respected by all his team-mates as well as the coaching staff," Hasselberg added.
With 8 goals and 11 assists in eight games this season, Moore accumulated 19 points and was third in the 2006-2007 Alberta Junior Hockey League scoring race when he left the Grizzlys.
With Moore's departure a void is left on the Grizzlys' roster and although he will be a hard player to replace, Hasselberg is confident other players will step up their play and become a true leader on the team.
With Moore's departure, Hasselberg indicated line juggling will take place as the coaching staff will have to find another player to play with Jordan Baker and Kyle Dorowicz, the line-mates Moore played with.
At press time Moore was already contributing to the Rebels' offence as he picked up a point in his first game as a member of the Red Deer Rebels played on Wednesday, Oct. 4.
Hasselberg noted the entire Grizzlys' roster journeyed to Red Deer to see Moore make his debut with the Rebels.
"As a coach it was satisfying to see Moore excel at a higher level of hockey," Hasselberg said.
"I thought he fit right in with the Rebels as he plays the type of hockey Brent Sutter, Rebels Head Coach, is looking for," Hasselberg said.
Before Moore decided to join the Rebels, he practiced with the team to get an idea if he would fit in with the team.
"It was a hard decision for Moore to leave the Grizzlys," Hasselberg said noting, he investigated all avenues before signing with the Rebels.
Moore played his minor hockey in Red Deer and was a member of the Red Deer Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs before joining the Grizzlys.
As a member of the Optimist Chiefs, Moore played in the Air Canada Cup, emblematic of Midget AAA hockey supreme cy in Canada.
"We're excited to have Moore join our program," Sutter said in a press release issued by the Rebels.
"He compliments our program with his style of play and we know the Rebels' fans will enjoy his on ice abilities," Sutter added.
"It is difficult to see a player like Moore leave this early in the season, but we support him 100% in his decision," Hasselberg added.
Hasselberg noted the Grizzlys' mandate is to develop hockey players to play at their highest level in order for them to succeed in future hockey ventures whether it be playing at the college level or professional hockey.
"We feel this is a great opportunity for Moore to achieve his goal of playing professional hockey," Hasselberg said.
"The Rebels fans organization and their fans will be extremely pleased with the prospect they're getting," Hasselberg noted.
"Moore is a skilled character player who will do anything for his teammates and he is sure to have success where ever he goes in hockey," Hasselberg concluded.
This past weekend, the Grizzlys played games against the Bonnyville Pontiacs and Grande Prairie Storm at the Olds Sports Complex
Game results were not known at press time.
On Tuesday, Oct. 10, the Grizzlys journey to Canmore to play the Eagles while on Thursday, Oct. 12 they play in Calgary against the Royals.


Grizzlys building character
By Barry Williams
Septembe 11, 2006
Olds Albertan

With just two games played in the current 2006/2007 AJHL season, the Olds Grizzlys are showing they are a team built around character.
Displaying a never say die attitude, the Grizzlys mounted third period comebacks against the Fort Saskatchewan Traders and the Drumheller Dragons to salvage three out of a possible four points during weekend action played in Fort Saskatchewan and Drumheller.
In Fort Saskatchewan on Fri. Sept. 8, Scott Ringrose notched his second goal of the game with 57 seconds left in the second overtime period to give the Traders a 5-4 victory over the Grizzlys.
Down 4-1 early into the third, period the Grizzlys scored three unanswered goals to send the game into the extra session.
With Grizzlys' netminder Matthew Wong on the bench for an extra attacker, Scott Kenway blinked the red light with just 15 seconds left deadlocking the game at 4-4.
Jordan Baker and Ross Whitford added the other markers for the Grizzlys in the final stanza.
Early in the second period, Dustin Moore notched the Grizzlys first goal of the game.
After twenty minutes of play, the Traders held a 2-0 lead and at the conclusion of the second period, they increased their lead to 3-1.
Two of the Grizzlys goals came on the power play while one was notched short handed.
During the game there was a steady parade of players to the penalty box and the Traders took advantage of their scoring opportunities by blinking the red light twice on the power play.
Between the pipes, Matthew Wong stymied the Traders' sharpshooters as he made several brilliant saves in the third period giving the Grizzlys an opportunity for a win. Wong finished the game with 27 saves.
At the Drumheller Memorial Arena on Sat. Sept.9, Kyle Dorowicz dented the red light on the power play late in the third period giving the Grizzlys a hard fought 4-3 win over the Dragons.
At the conclusion of the first period, the teams skated into the dressing room deadlocked at a goal apiece.
For the Dragons, Cam Lamoureux dented the twine shorthanded while Grizzlys' captain Ryan Ekdahl notched a power play goal.
On goals off the sticks of Randy McMullin and Cam Lamoureux, the Dragons held a 3-1 lead after forty minutes of play.
Michael Penny and Dustin Moore rounded out the scoring for the Grizzlys.
Two veteran goalies, Grizzlys' Matthew Wong and Dragons' Jonathon LaRose stole the show as both netminders made several brilliant saves during the game leaving the sharpshooters from both teams shaking their heads in disbelief.
LaRose finished the game with 35 saves while Wong turned aside 32 shots.
According to Grizzlys' Head Coach/GM, Kevin Hasselberg, the roster selection heading into the 2006/2007 season was extremely difficult as the talent pool at this year's training camp was dented with productive players.
"I was very pleased with the talent at training camp this season," Hasselberg said.
"The players all brought their "A" game into camp which made it a very difficult two weeks for the coaching staff to make their decisions," Hasselberg said.
Hasselberg, heading into his second year as Grizzlys' head coach, indicated the selection for this year's roster was extremely tough.
"We had some key positions to fill this year and I am confident the coaching staff has made the right choices," Hasselberg added.
"I like where we are sitting right now, we have a good mixture of veteran and first year players," Hasselberg said.
"We want to ice a competitive team, one which will compete in the playoffs," said Hasselberg.
"Obviously we want to bring back the AJHL championship to Olds this year and this will be our ultimate goal this season," Hasselberg noted.
Because the Grizzlys have character players returning to the roster this season, Hasselberg believes the character of the team emphasizing, heart, determination and dedication will be showcased early in the season.
And judging from the team's never say die attitude exhibited in the first two games of the season, the character of the team will only become stronger.
This Friday, Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m., the Grizzlys 2006/2007 season home opener scheduled at the Sports Complex.
Prior to the game against the Camrose Kodiaks, fans are invited to a tailgate party featuring entertainment by Denver Daines.


Grizzlys open fall camp
By Barry Williams
August 22, 2006
Olds Albertan

A familiar chant, "Go Grizzlys Go," will be heard in the Olds Sportscomplex commencing this weekend as the Grizzlys will officially embark into the 2006/2007 Alberta Junior A Hockey League season with the opening of the annual Fall Camp on Aug. 27, 2006.
Over 50 hopeful players will be lacing up their skates in an effort to impress the Grizzlys' coaching staff with their talent and land a spot on the 25 man roster.
With a veteran blue line core returning to the fold for another season, the Grizzlys should perhaps ice their strongest team defensively this season.
Returning defencemen donning the Grizzlys' uniform this year will be Ryan Ekdahl, Kirk Deeg, Cory Lyons, Curtis DeBruyn and Adam Ross.
In the off-season, the Grizzlys traded goaltender Cole Anderson to the Trail Junior A Smoke Eaters of the British Columbia Junior A Hockey League in exchange for blue-liner Ross Whitford.
According to Grizzlys' Head Coach/GM, Kevin Hasselberg, Whitford will anchor a very solid defensive core.
Although the Grizzlys have lost their balance of scoring from last year's squad, they have four returning forwards who have a talent around the opposition net. Goal production will be supplied by veterans Dustin Moore, Jordan Baker, Michael Penny and Kyle Dorowicz.
With the return of goaltender, Matthew Wong, selected to the AJHL All-Rookie Team last year, the Grizzlys will be strong between the pipes.
This season, the Grizzlys will have a local appeal as graduate Midget AAA players from the Red Deer Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs, the Midget AAA Foothills Bisons and the Midget AAA Rockyview Lightning are expected to be in the starting line-up.
Area hockey fans will have their first opportunity of watching the new kids donning a Grizzlys' uniform at the annual Black and Gold Game is scheduled for Sunday,Aug. 27 at 6:00 p.m. in the Sportscomplex.
Before the 2006/2007 AJHL season opens, the Grizzlys will play five exhibition games.
On Aug. 29, they will travel to Canmore to play the first of two games with the Eagles. Meanwhile, the Eagles will fly into Olds on Sept. 5 to tangle with the Grizzlys in their final exhibition game.
Prior to the Sept. 5th game, the Grizzlys will play a home and home series with the Drayton Valley thunder. On Sept. 1, the Grizzlys will play the Thunder in Drayton Valley while on Sept. 2 at 7:30 p.m. they will host the Thunder at the Sportscomplex.
Season tickets are still available and can be purchased at the Grizzlys' office.
When the puck drops for the opening of the upcoming season, the AJHL will be operating under different leadership.
At the annual AJHL general meeting held during the summer, the Board of Governors elected a new president, Craig Cripps, an experienced marketer and public relations professional.
Cripps replaces Kim Marsh , the longest serving AJHL president. Marsh stepped down from the position at the conclusion of the 2005/2006 season.
And there will be a different game displayed on the ice as the AJHL, along with other members of the Canadian Junior A Hockey League has adopted new rule changes to keep the game inline with the National Hockey League rules.
This coming weekend will be busy as most AJHL teams will open fall camps.


AJHL Rule changes should benefit Grizzlys
By Barry Williams
June 11, 2006
Olds Albertan

New rule changes adopted by the Alberta Junior Hockey League board of govenors at the league's annual general meeting should benefit the Olds Grizzlys.
Although some teams are against these new rules, patterned after the national Hockey League, Grizzlys head coach/director of hockey operations, Kevin Hasselberg, indicated they are a step in the right direction.
Under the new rule changes, the fans will be entertained with the ultimate in hockey skills as Hockey Canada is attempting to take away the stick work out of the game clamping down on stick penalties like hooking, slashing and high sticking. Also, there will be a no tolerance rule for players interfering with goaltenders as the league is trying to protect the netminders from being deliberately run into. And most of all, abuse of on-ice officials will carry severe consequences.
Although some teams feel these rule changes hinder their play, Hasselberg believes all teams will now be on an even playing field.
Teams traditionally known as playing clutch and grab hockey, will now have to rely on skilled players as the ice will be wide open.
According to Hasselberg, the Grizzlys will make very few changes to their approach towards the game as they have always attempted to dress skilled players.
"Our emphasis has always been on the skills of the game, skating, puck handling and shooting," said Hasselberg.
Since the final buzzer sounded ending the Grizzlys 2005/2006 playoff run against the Calgary Canucks, Hasselberg has been concentrating on player recruitment and he feels players invited to the fall training camp will be an excellent fit into the new AJHL.
Although the rule changes may alter the way Hasselberg approaches each game, he believes the fans will be entertained and treated to an exciting brand of hockey.
In his address to those attending the Olds Sportsmen's Recreational Association annual general meeting held on Thursday, June 8 at the Olds Curling Club, Hasselberg outlined the highs and lows of the past season including the team's appearance in the playoffs, the hockey scholarships obtained by the players and the continued support of the hockey community.
He also acknowledged the tremendous commitment of those who work hard behind the scenes in bringing the fans the best hockey entertainment for their dollar.
"I wish we could have had a longer playoff run but overall it was a very successful season," Hasselberg said.
With an excellent core of returning players coupled with a major recruitment program, Hasselberg is confident the upcoming season has the makings for a banner year.
During the past weeks, Hasselberg has made some player moves and he indicated more trades could be possible during the summer months.
At the club's general meeting, a new executive consisting of president, Bruce Bieber, vice-president, Jim Ross, along with directors, Brent Beaudoin, Melanie Hepp, Brent Taylor, Rick Veno, Darren Quantz, Steven Schooler and past president Dale Belsher was acclaimed by the voting members.
Fall Training Camp is scheduled to start August 25, 2006.


Former Gold Medalist Olympian signs with Canucks
By Barry Williams
May 19, 2006
Olds Albertan

Calgary Canucks, of the alberta Junior hockey League, have a 'golden touch" behind the bench.
Last week, the Canucks announced the signing of Melody Davidson to the position of Assistant Coach.
Davidson brings an impressive Olympic resume to the Canucks hockey organization. With many years of coaching hockey at various levels, Davidson is best known as being involved with the Canadian Women's Hockey Team serving as a Head Coach as well as an Assistant Coach.
During her time working with the Canadian women's hockey program Davidson won Olympic Gold medals as an assistant coach and as a head coach.
"We are extremely fortunate to add a person of her ability , understanding and dedication towards hockey to our coaching staff," said Canucks' GM/Head coach Don Phelps.
"It has always been a dream of mine to become involved with the Canucks at some level," Davidson said.
"I am honored to be part of an organization with the integrity and the history of the Calgary Canucks," Davidson added.
Davidson has recently signed a four year contract with Hockey Canada to head up the Women's Hockey program for the 2010 Winter Olympics being held in Vancouver, B.C..
Since the Olympic preparations don't start until 2009, Davidson will have time to work closely with the Canucks hockey program.
"I have been a fan of the Alberta Junior Hockey League and followed the Calgary Canucks from my childhood days," Davidson added.
Davidson will join Head Coach Don Phelps, Assistant Coach, Joe Delure and Morely Bengert in the day to day management of the Canucks.
Davidson's appointment was made at the Canucks Annual Awards and Fund Raising Banquet.
Meanwhile, a former Head Coach/GM with the Olds Grizzlys, Brett Cox, has signed a contract with the Fort Saskatchewan Traders. Cox will join the Crusaders as Head Coach for the 2006/2007 hockey season.
Cox is no stranger to the Traders organization, as he played for the Traders from 1984-1988.
"We are very excited Brett is joining our group," said Greg Parks, Traders' President.
"I feel what he has to offer from an experience perspective and knowledge of the game and the league, he will definitely be a viable addition for our organization," Parks added.
"With a history of over 28 scholarship awards to players who have played under his helm, he definitely knows what it takes to get players to the next level," said Parks, noting this is exactly what the Traders are offering their players.
Cox will start with the Traders immediately.


Be proud of the Grizzlys
By Barry Williams
April 24, 2006
Olds Albertan

Despite bowing out to the Calgary Canucks in the first round of the AJHL Rogers Wireless South Division playoffs, Grizzlys' head coach, Kevin Hasselberg has just one message for the fans..."Be proud of the Grizzlys."
In an interview at the Grizzlys 2005/2006 Awards Dinner held on Friday, April 21, 2006 at the Olds College Alumni Center, Hasselberg said, "I can't say enough about the players, I am extremely proud of them."
And according to Hasselberg, the Olds hockey community should also be very proud of the Grizzlys.
Although the season ended a bit early, Hasselberg noted the Grizzlys made tremendous strides during league play as they went from missing the playoffs last season to nailing down second place in the Rogers Wireless south division, just a point behind the defending AJHL champions, Camrose Kodiaks.
"Every player in the dressing room believed in themselves and their teammates," said Hasselberg.
"They also believed in me as a coach and my philosophies, which was very special to me," Hasselberg added.
As a first year bench boss, Hasselberg indicated he went through trials and tribulations but regardless of the situation, he had the full support of the players and they always respected his decisions.
In referring to the graduating players, Cole Anderson, Dave Cowan, Billy Way, Jeff Smyth, Braden Desmet, Steve Houghen, Curtis VanGrinsven, Michael LeClair, and Parker Burgess, Hasselberg noted the Grizzlys' executive is very proud of these players' contribution towards the hockey program while they donned the black and gold.
"Besides being committed to the Grizzlys, these players were involved within the community and were excellent ambassadors for the Town of Olds," Hasselberg said.
"Obviously the retiring players will be missed but they have excellent futures ahead of them whether it be in hockey or within the business community," Hasselberg added.
Hasselberg also noted it was an honor and a privilege to be associated with these young gentlemen.
All though yet confirmed, the graduating players could possibly lace up their skates for Canadian and United States colleges or AAA Senior teams next season
Regardless of which road the graduating players take, Hasselberg indicated they will always cherish the time they spent with the Olds Grizzlys.
. As for the upcoming league play, with twelve returning players, Hasselberg believes the Grizzlys will ice a very competitive team for play in the 2006/2007 AJHL season.
"There's no doubt, we have some key positions to be filled but our recruitment is very strong," Hasselberg said.
"Our coaching staff identified several capable players from our recent Spring Camp," added Hasselberg.
Hasselberg expects to pick up players from the Calgary AAA Midget teams, the Midget AAA Rockyview Lightning and the Red Deer AAA Midget Optimist Chiefs.
According to Hasselberg the Highway 2 corridor from Calgary northward to Red Deer is a hotbed for graduating AAA Midget players and he expects to have a good nucleus of area players on the Grizzlys' roster next season.
It appears the effort to bring Braden Desmet from the Drumheller Dragons to the Grizzlys reaped dividends as Desmet was named the regular season and playoff Most Valuable Player
He was also the team's leading scorer. With the Drumheller Dragons, Desmet was named Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player.
Netminder, Matthew Wong was named the Rookie of The Year. Wong was also named to the AJHL All Rookie team.
Captain Dave Cowan was named the Best Defenceman and defenceman Rory Lyons was named the Most Improved Player.
Receiving the nod for the Most Sportsmanlike Player was Parker Burgess while Jeff Smyth was named Community Player of the Year.
Top Defensive Forward honors went to Kyle Dorowicz with Most Dedicated Player going to Curtis VanGrinsven.
Ryan Ekdahl claimed the Presidents Award and Michael Penny won the Scholastic Award.
Fall Camp for the upcoming season will commence in late August.


Wong named to AJHL all-rookie team
By Barry Williams
March 20, 2006
Olds Albertan

Olds Grizzlys' netminder Matthew Wong has been mamed to the 2005/2006 AJHL All-rookie team.
His selection, made by the AJHL general managers and coaches, was announced
last week by the AJHL.
In his first year with the Grizzlys, Wong compiled an impressive record with a 2.72 goals against average and a .950 save percentage. He appeared in 26 games compiling a record of 10 winss, 10 defeats and 6 ties.
His work between the pipes was noticed throughout the league as he was selected to the AJHL south prospects team.
Despite the brilliant play of Wong, in the preliminary round of the AJHL Rogers Wireless south division playoffs, the Grizzlys, second place finishers in the division, were unable to advance to the quarter-final round, losing to the Calgary Canucks 3-1 in the best of five series.
Playing at the Max Bell Arena in Calgary last week, the Canucks used home ice to their advantage chalking up two victories by defeating the Grizzlys 4-3 in overtime on Monday March, 6 and edging the Grizzlys 3-2 on Tuesday March, 7.
On Monday evening, Bennett Royer, blinked the red light mid way through the first overtime period to give the Canucks the hard fought win.
After a scoreless first period, the teams dented the twine once in the middle frame with Michael Dempster accounting for the Grizzlys scoring. Meanwhile for the Canucks, David Shillington notched a short handed marker.
Shillington gave the Canucks an early third period lead with a power play marker. Nine minutes into the final stanza, Jeff Smyth brought the Grizzlys back to even terms at 2-2. Towards the end of regulation time, Mitch McColm notched a power play goal giving the Canucks a slim 3-2 one goal lead. In the Dying minutes of the game, Curtis VanGrinsven sent the game into overtime deadlocking the game at three goals apiece.
Defensively, the center of attention was directly on the goaltenders as Canucks' Patrick Inglis and Grizzlys' Wong stymied the sharpshooters with heart stopping saves. Wong finished the game with 40 saves while Inglis blocked 52 shots.
A goal by Robbie Smith with five minutes left in the game ensured the Canucks of victory on Tuesday evening. Other players notching goals for the Canucks were Brett Campbell and Bennett Royer. Meanwhile, Braden Desmet handled the Grizzlys' scoring blinking the red light twice.
Once again, the netminders were at their best throughout the entire contest. Inglis made 25 saves while Wong handled 24 shots.
With the season officially over, Grizzlys' head coach, Kevin Hasselberg, will now focus on the upcoming season.
And it appears he will have a few holes to fill as the Grizzlys graduate eight players: Braden Desmet, Steve Houghen, Jeff Smyth, Michael LeClair, Parker Burgess, Curtis VanGrinsven, Billy Way and Dave Cowan.


Grizzlys settle for second place
By Barry Williams
February 27, 2006
Olds Albertan

Olds Grizzlys' fans will still have the opportunity of shouting "Go Grizzlys Go" for a
bit longer as the Grizzlys have settled for second place in the Rogers Wireless south
division standings and will advance to the league playoffs.
Latest statistics released by the AJHL office, show the Grizzlys with 68 points, one behind
the defending league champions, Camrose Kodiaks with 69 points.
In AJHL action last week, the Grizzlys closed the regular season out with a solid 5-3
win over the Calgary Canucks before 1,215 fans at the Olds Sportsplex on Friday,
Feb. 24.
And in the final "Battle of the Bears" at the Sportsplex on Monday, Feb. 20, the
Grizzlys skated to a 1-1 sawoff against the Kodiaks.
On the road at the Father David Bauer Arena on Thursday, Feb.23, the Grizzlys
downed the Calgary Royals 5-1.
Against the Kodiaks, the spotlight was on the netminders as the two goalies,
Grizzlys' Matthew Wong and Kodiaks' Keenan Boomer put on a goaltender's clinic.
Wong was spectacular between the pipes as he turned aside 47 shots with
Boomer kicking out 31 shots.
In recent games, Wong has handled the netminding bulk as veteran Cole Anderson
has been nursing an injury.
Although Anderson was ready to play against the Kodiaks, Grizzlys' assistant coach,
Aaron Sept indicated the coaching staff went on a hunch in playing Wong.
"He (Wong) has been outstanding for us in most of the games played this
season," said Sept noting, the rookie goalie responds well to the presure.
"This was an important point against the Kodiaks and although we didn't pick up the
win the tie still keeps us in second place," Sept added.
Meanwhile, Kodiaks' head coach, Boris Rybalka was relieved they escaped Olds
with a single point.
"Because the standings are so tight in the south division, a team needs every point in
order to get home ice advantage in the playoffs," Rybalka added.
Over the years, the Grizzlys and the Kodiaks have developed a heated rivalry and
Because of this both coaches noted it isn't hard to motivate the players for the games
between the two clubs.
"Escaping with a win over the Grizzlys on their home ice is extremely tough, we will
definitely take the point tonight," Rybalka added.
As the Grizzlys now prepare for post season play, Sept indicated the players are
looking forward to the playoffs.
"Making the playoffs has always been a goal for us this season," added Sept.
"Providing we stay healthy I am confident it will be a long run into the playoffs for
us" Sept added.
As for the Kodiaks, their goal is definitely repeating as AJHL champions and making
it back to the Royal Bank Cup, emblamatic of Junior A supremecy in Canada.
"Repeating as league champions will be extremely tough this time around," said
Rybalka, noting there is more parity within the league this year.
Against the Kodiaks, Sean Numeier blinked the red light for the Grizzlys, while Matt
Schmermund replied for the Kodiaks.
In Calgary, Michael LeClair netted a natural hat trick while Braden Desmut chipped in
with a pair of goals.
Chipping in with the only goal scored by the Royals was Sean Hindmarch.
Five different players scored against the Canucks as the Grizzlys built up a 3-0 lead
after twenty minutes of play on goals by Jordan Baker, Braden Desmet and Curtis
VanGrinsven.
On goals by Richard Linn, Bennett Royer and Jordan Stevenson, the Canucks drew
even at t 3-3 after forty minutes of play.
A power play goal by Steve Houghen early in the third period gave the Grizzlys a
one goal lead at 4-3. An empty net goal by Michael rounded out the scoring for the
Grizzlys.
At press time, it was unknown who the Grizzlys would be playing in the playoffs.
For playoff dates and ticket information contact the Grizzlys office.


Kim Marsh stepping down as AJHL president
By Barry Williams
February 23, 2006

Olds Albertan

An eight year tenure as Alberta Junior Hockey League president for Kim Marsh will
end when the league holds it's annual meeting in May, 2006.
Marsh notified the league of his decision at the semi-annual meeting held earlier in Spruce Grove.

For the past thirty years, Marsh has been involved with the league in different positions.
Although Marsh is steeping down from the president's job he will still the assist the league
as statistician.

In a press release issued by the AJHL last week, Bob Clark, chairman of the board of
govenors, indicated Marsh's resignation was graciously accepted by board.
"Mr Marsh's offer to assist the league with alternate duties in the future is greatlu
appreciated," Clark said.

Under the direction of Marsh, the AJHL saw growth with the addition of the Brooks
Bandits, Drunheller Dragons and the Crowsnest Pass Timberwolves, now the Okotoks Oilers.
And in the past eight years, the AJHL has become one of the premiere Junior A Hockey
League's in Canada an accolade directly linked to Marsh.

Also under Marsh's direction, the AJHL hosted the Royal Bank Cup, emblamatic of
Junior A hockey supremecy in Canada, in Grande Prairie and Camrose and these two
national championships have been regarded as the most succesful in the Memorial and Royal Bank Cup history.

Marsh's expetise in Junior A hockey has also been focussed with the Canadian Amateur
Junior A Hockey League as he is currently Western vice-president of the CAJHL.
It appears the league will continue to advance it's quality of hockey entertainment by working closely with the two Midget AAA hockey league's in the province, the Alberta Major Midget AAA Hockey League and the Rural Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League.
"Management is currently reviewing ideas on restructuring the league," said Clark, noting
it will make the AJHL a better league for both the players and the fans.

As the league heads into it's final week of action in the 2005/2006 regular season, it appears play-off positioning in the Rogers Wireless north and south divisions will go down to the final buzzer as positioning has yet to be determined.

And the Olds Grizzlys are in a battle for top spot in the Rogers Wireless south division with
the Camrose Kodiaks.

In league statistics released on Feb. 16 2006, the Kodiaks hold a slim three point lead over
the Grizzlys, who have a game in hand.

With a pair of wins, this past week, the Kodiaks have garnished 66 points while the Grizzlys
have accumulated 63 points. This past weekend, the "Battle of the Bears" continued with a home and home series. On Friday, Feb. 17, the teams tangled in Camrose and on Monday, Feb. 20, they battled it out at the Sports Complex in Olds. Because of the Family Day Holiday results were not known at press time.

With a game in Calgary aginst the Royals on Thursday, Feb. 23 and a home encounter
against the Calgary Canucks, the Grizzlys will close the regular season.

Since there is a raging battle for the reamining post season positions, the Grizzlys are uncertain who they will face in the play-offs. It could possibly be the Brooks Bandits or the Drumheller Dragons.

Play-off dates will be announcednext week. For dates and ticket sales contact the Grizzlys office.

 

Slip sliding away
By Barry Williams
February 5, 2006

Olds Albertan

During the 1960's "Slip Sliding Away" was a popular song and today it could be
delivered as the Olds Grizzlys' theme song.

A Grizzlys' three game losing streak coupled with a Camrose Kodiaks' streak of four
consecutive wins has had an impact on the Rogers Wireless south division standings as
the Kodiaks, with 65 points, now have a two point cushion in front of the Grizzlys in the
hunt for first place in the south division standings.

It was a tough week of action for the Grizzlys as they were downed 4-1 by the
Okotoks Oilers in Olds on Tues. Feb.. 7 and drubbed 6-0 by the Grande Storm Storm on Fri.
Feb.. 10. Heading home from the northern road trip on Sun. Feb.. 12, the Spruce Grove
Saints edged the Grizzlys 5-4.

After Kirk Deeg gave the Grizzlys an early first period lead, the Oilers stormed back
with two unanswered goals in each of the second and third periods to gain the victory.
Andrew Owsiak netted a pair of power play goals to lead the Kodiaks offensively.
Other goals came off the sticks of Dallas hand and Cole Geddes.

Meanwhile, in Grande Prairie, Chris Wilson and Dustin Sather dented the twine twice
with Kevin Hamel and Mackenzie Caron adding singletons.

For the Oilers, the win was important as it moved them into a third place tie with
the Brooks Bandits. Both teams have garnished 58 points and are guaranteed a spot in the upcoming playoffs.

"We set a goal on making the playoffs this season and the players are very proud of
this," said Oilers' head coach, Garry VanHereweghe.

"But the regular season isn't over yet as we want to finish as high as we can in the
standings," VanHereweghe said, noting the remaining games are very important.
Against the Grizzlys, VanHereweghe indicated the Oilers were nursing a few injuries
and their game plan was to play a very simple game of dump and chase.
"Because the Grizzlys were hurting along the blueline, our plan was to wear them down
by dumping the puck into their zone on every opportunity," noted VanHereweghe.
Offensively, the Grizzlys held the territorial edge but were limited on their scoring chances
as the Oilers kept the home squad on the outside.

"They (Grizzlys) are a strong team in front of the net as most of their goals are scored
with a man standing in front of the crease," VanHereweghe added.

VanHereghe praised his player for playing a disciplined game and noted they refused to
be whistled for marginal penalties.

"With the Grizzlys having one of the best power play units in the league, I was pleased
we didn't allow them any goals with a man advantage," VanHereweghe.
Although the Grizzlys held the advantage on the clock shot, head coach, Kevin
Hasselbergwasn't pleased with the way the players executed their plays.
"Sure we had a lot of shots on net but very few of them were good scoring chances,"
Hasselberg said.

And Hasselberg was not pleased with the work ethic indicating the players were
comfortable with just going through the motions.

"They (Oilers) ouworked us throughout the enire game," Hasselberg said.
"Whether it's a practice or game situation, the players have to be willing to make a
sacrifice and work hard," Hasselberg said.

"There are no excuses for the way we're playing right now," added Hasselberg.
Although the Grizzlys are riddled with injuries, Hasselberg indicated they are
not the reason for the Grizzlys recent losing streak.

Whether the players are now content they have made the playoffs or not, Hasselberg
expects a better performance in the remaining games.

"Home ice is a tremendous advantage in the playoffs and we will have to wait and see
if the players really want this," Hasselberg concluded.

This week the Grizzlys travle to Camrose to play the Kodiaks on Feb. 17 and
entertain the Spruce Grove Saints on Feb. 18.

They will finish the regular season next week with home games against the Kodiaks on
Feb. 20 and the Calgary Canucks on Feb. 24.



Playing through injuries
By Barry Williams
February 5, 2006

Olds Albertan

Injuries are part of any game, just ask the AJHL coaching staff.

Two teams riddled by injuries tangled at the Olds Sports Complex on Friday Feb.3 in
the third round of the "Battle of the Bears".

And in a game with first place in the Rogers Wireless south division on the line, the
Camrose Kodiaks skated to a 5-3 victory over the olds Grizzlys before 428 fans.

With the win the Kodiaks moved into a first place tie with the Grizzlys, each team
posting 61 points on the season.

When the weekend action was completed, the Grizzlys regained first place by posting a
hard fought 5-4 win over the Calgary Royals on Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Sports Complex.
With a game in hand on the Kodiaks and the Drumheller Dragons, the Grizzlys (63) now
lead the south division by two points over the Kodiaks (61) and have increased their lead over the third place Dragons (57) by six points.

Due to injuries to key players, the Grizzlys have inked in affiliate players from the Red Deer
Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs and the Midget AAA Rocky Mountain Lightning and according to Grizzlys' head coach, Kevin Hasselberg the players called up for action have made their presence felt on the ice.

"Our coaching staff has used these players in different situations and they haven't looked
out of place," said Hasselberg.

"We are very fortunate to have an excellent working relationship with the Red Deer and
Carstairs teams," added Hasselberg indicating both Midget teams have been very co-
operative."Also, our scouting staff has worked very hard in identifying players and recruiting them for us," said Hasselberg.

Although the injuries have resulted in roster changes, Hasselberg feels comfortable in
using different line-up changes.

Some of the injuries sustained by the players have been serious but the training staff of
trainer Jim Ross and athletic therapist Megan Lodeon have put in extra hours in assuring
the players return to the line-up in healthy condition.

And Hasselberg is thankful for their dedication towards the players and team.
Hasselberg acknowledges injuries are apart of the game but he is mystified at why the
players have become injured in bunches.

"All of our players work extra hard on conditioning so being out of condition has nothing
to do with the injuries," hasselberg added.

Despite the injuries, the Grizzlys have been playing well enough to challenge for first place
and Hasselberg believes the team will be even better when an injury free roster takes to
the ice.

"Right now, the main focus is to make sure the injured players are healthy for the play-offs," Hasselberg added.

Like the Grizzlys, the Kodiaks were hit hard with a rash of injuries and head coach Boris
Rybalka is relieved his injured bodies have returned to the line-up.

"I hope our injury problems are behind us, we need every player healthy during the stretch run," Rybalka said.

"Since our injured players have returned we are now playing our best hockey," Rybalka added.

Most of the Kodiaks' injuries came at the beginning of the current season and resulted in
the AJHL defending champions slow start to the year.

"We are fortunate our veteran players have stepped up their play," Rybalka said, noting
he is very comfortable with his rookie players.

In some ways, the injuries were a blessing for the Kodiaks as it allowed the first year players
to gain valuable ice time and their play has improved game in and game out.
"Our veteran players have helped our rookie players out tremendously and it is showing in
their play," Rybalka added.

Because Rybalka realized the Kodiaks would be a younger team this season, it allowed
him to be heavily involved in recruiting during the summer.

"We have added some excellent first year players this year," Rybalka noted.
And with the exceptional work of veteran David Thompson between the pipes, Rybalka
feels he has the right combination to defend their AJHL championship.

In Olds, the Kodiaks received a pair of power play goals off the stick of Scott Wiancko
and singletons from Jesse VanDalfsen, Scott Kobialko and Logan Gorsalitz to account for
their scoring.

For the Grizzlys, Dave Cowan, Steve Hougen and Michael Penny dented the twine.
Against the Royals, Jeff Smyth and Parker Burgess netted a pair of goals with
singletons being added by Michael Dempster and Steve Hougen.

Denting the twine for the Royals were Jordan Sealock, Tyler Lynn, Jordan Sealock
and Brandon Spiller.

This week the Grizzlys play the Okotoks Oilers on Tuesday Feb. 7 at the Sports Complex
and travel to Grande Prairie on Feb. 10 and Spruce Grove on Feb. 12.


Back on track
By Barry Williams
January 30, 2006

After being demolished by the Canmore Eagles 7-2 in Canmore on Fri. Jan.27, the Olds
Grizzlys got back on track at the Olds sports Complex by blanking the Eagles 1-0 on Sat.
Jan. 28 and skating to a 3-3 draw against the Brooks Bandits on Sun. Jan. 29.
Although the Grizzlys were gunning for six points on the weekend, the three points racked
up kept them in first place in the Rogers Wireless south division standings with 61 points.
For a team priding themselves in defensive play, the seven goals surrendered by the Grizzlys in the first game of the home and home series against the Eagles was uncharacteristic.
Prior to the first game against the Eagles, the Grizzlys gave up eight goals against the
Drayton Valley Thunder in a game played earlier in the week in Drayton Valley.
Before coming home to play the weekend games, Grizzlys head coach, Kevin Hasselberg
noted the Grizzlys were a "fragile team."
Giving up 15 goals in two games meant the players did some soul searching and they
responded at home with a flawless game against the Eagles and a decent game with the Bandits.
"All of the players pride themselves in their defensive play," said Hasselberg, noting the
fifteen goals scored against them in two games left a bad taste in the dressing room.
"Give the players credit, they responded with an outstanding effort against the Eagles at
home and today the effort was solid against the Bandits," noted Hasselberg.
As for the recent games in Canmore and Drayton Valley, where the Grizzlys were
soundly defeated, Hasselberg indicated the players have forgotten about them and moved on.
"We are not worried about past games or future games, our task is to concentrate on the
game at hand," Hasselberg noted.
According to Hasselberg, goaltending has made a difference in recent games as Matthew Wong was brilliant between the pipes in picking up the shutout against the Eagles.
"I thought the goaltending against the Eagles in the second game was simply outstanding,"said Hasselberg.
According to Hasselberg, Wong gave the Grizzlys the opportunity for the win by making key saves when the defensive coverage broke down.
"He (Wong) has turned into an excellent goaltender and I am positive he will become even a better goaltender as he progresses in his career regardless which path he chooses," Hasselberg added.
Against the Bandits, the Grizzlys were the dominant team but were foiled in their effots to
walk away with the game as all-star netminder, Kyle Richter stole the limelight by making
several brilliant saves and Hasselberg noted Richter was the only reason the Bandits escaped with a single point.
"We had numerous scoring opportunities but couldn't bury our chances against Richter,"
Hasselberg said, indicating the puck wasn't bouncing in the Grizzlys favor.
Meanwhile, Bandits assistant coach, Dean Hansen, a former player with Grizzlys, noted the Bandits defensive coverage broke down several times, mostly due to the Grizzlys tenacious forechecking.
"Because the Grizzlys were constantly forechecking us we had a tough time getting out of
our end," Hansen said.
"There was no doubt the difference in the game for us was our goaltending," Hansen said.
"This isn't the first time Richter has stolen points from the Grizzlys," Hansen added.
During the encounter, Richter was peppered with 50 shots while Cole Anderson made 28
saves between the pipes for the Grizzlys.
For the Grizzlys, Michael Dempster, Braden Desmet and Michael LeClair dented the twine
while Mike Solik, Landon Novotney and Corey Rutt replied for the Bandits.
Against the Eagles in Olds, the only goal scored in the game came off the stick of Jeff
Smyth.
In Canmore, the Eagles received three goals from Chris Berry with singletons being added
by Kevin Lessard, Derek Jubb, Michael Saddler and Ryan Hyland.
Meanwhile, Curtis Beaudoin and Jeff Smyth blinked the red light for the Grizzlys.
This week, the Grizzlys renew the "Battle of the Bears" with a home game against the
Camrose Kodiaks on Friday, Feb. 3 and entertain the Calgary Royals on Saturday, Feb. 4


Stormy times for Grizzlys
By Barry Williams
January 22, 2006

Although the weather has been sunny and mild throughout Alberta, the Olds Grizzlys skated into a storm at the Drayton Valley Complex on Friday Jan.20 as they were balmed 8-2 by the Drayton Valley Thunder in AJHL action.
Backed by the outstanding goaltending of Scott Gundmandson, the Thunder controlled every facet of the game except the shot clock as the Grizzlys fired 30 shots at the masked man between the pipes but were only able to dent the twine twice.
For the Grizzlys, Parker Burgess dented the twine late in the first period with a power play
marker while Curtis VanGrinsven blinked the red light in the second period with an even strength goal.
Meanwhile, the Thunder power play was throwing lightning bolts at the Grizzlys'
netminding tandem of Cole Anderson and Matthew Wong as they connected with four goals with the man advantage.
Michael Mouilleriat struck for a pair of power play goals for the Thunder with Sean Ringrose and Jeremy Russell connecting for the other extra man goals. Late in the third period Mouilleriat completed his hat trick.
Other Thunder goals came off of the sticks of Tyler Moore, Derek VanHarm and Kyle Gailey
Anderson started the game for the Grizzlys between the pipes but gave way to Wong mid- way through the first period after the Thunder built a commanding 3-0 lead.
Earlier in the week, the Grizzlys were robbed by a masked bandit in Brooks as the Bandits
handed the Grizzlys a 3-1 defeat.
All-star, Kyle Richter made a statement in the net for the Bandits as he committed highway robbery on the Grizzlys' sharpshooters. Early in the first period, Michael Dempster gave the
Grizzlys a 1-0 lead but the single goal was all Richter allowed as he shut the door on the
Grizzlys for the remainder of the game. He finished the game with 38 saves while Cole
Anderson blocked 23 shots in the Grizzlys' cage.
And the Bandits selected to play for the Rogers Wireless South Division all-star team
did all the scoring for the Bandits as landon Novotney, Mark Nelson and Mike Soik blinked
the red light.
With the win, the Bandits moved into a third place tie in the Rogers Wireless South
Division standings with the Drumheller Dragons. Both teams have chalked up 50 points
so far this season, a single point behind the Camrose Kodiaks with 51 points.
Dispite the two defeats, the Grizzlys remain in first place in the south division with a record
of 26 wins, 15 losses, 2 ties and 4 overtime losses good enough for 58 points.
A recent winning streak has vaulted the Thunder into third place in the north division with 64 points.
However, they are still trying to catch the league's two hottest teams, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and Bonnyville Pontiacs. With 71 points, Fort McMurray has the best record in the AJHL and they have been ranked as the best Canadian Junior A hockey team for most of the season.
Meanwhile, the Bonnyville Pontiacs have collected 68 points so far this season and are ranked within the top ten in Canada.
At the AJHL All-star weekend in Spruce Grove at the Grant Fuhr Arena, two Grizzlys combined for the only goal the South Prospects scored in the annual Prospects Game. Completely outmatched by their northern counterparts, the South Prospects lost a 5-1.
Kyle Dorowiwicz notched the only goal for the south team while Dustin Moore contributed the only assist.
Scoring for the Northern Prospects were, Brian Kelly, Joey Ammon, Derek Klassen, Blake hamilton and Jordan Kerry.
Matthew Wong was one of three goaltenders playing for the south squad and during his period of play he made 10 saves. Other tenders for the southern team were Jonathon LaRose and Ryan Rondeau.
Grizzlys Head Coach/G, Kevin Hasselberg, was named the head coach of the South Prospects and this was his inaugural appearance at the league's all-star weekend.
This week the Grizzlys entertain the Canmore Eagles on Sat. Jan. 28 and the Brooks Bandits on Sunday, Jan. 29 in an afternoon tilt. Their only away game is against the Eagles in Canmore on Friday,
Jan. 27.


King of the ice
By Barry Williams
January 9, 2006

King Michael LeClair and his loyal subjects, the Olds Grizzlys, defended a royal invasion at the Olds Sportscomplex by defeating the Calgary Royals 7-2 in AJHL action played on Friday, Jan. 13.
LeClair notched a natural hat trick in the first period of the encounter and added a late second period goal to lead the Grizzlys offensive threat.
Other goals for the Grizzlys came off the sticks of Ryan Ekdahl, Braden Desmut and Parker Burgess.
After jumping out to a comfortable 4-0 first period lead, the Royals cut the margin to two goals in the second period on goals by Shane Lust and Jordan Sealock.
Actually, the game could have been a blow-out as the Grizzlys dominated every facet of the game peppering the Royals goalies, Andrew pinsent and Brett Dreger with 62 shots.
Pinsent, the starting netminder, was pulled midway through the first period after the Grizzlys built up a 4-0 lead. He was replaced by Dreger, who's outstanding goaltending kept the Royals in the game and prevented the Grizzlys from embarrassing them. The Royals are marred in the basement of the Rogers Wireless south division standings.
With the win, the Grizzlys (58 points) maintained their ten point lead over the second place Brooks Bandits (48 points) in the Rogers Wireless south division standings. Defending AJHL champions, Camrose Kodiaks, sit in third place with 47 points.
It was a productive week for the Grizzlys as they earlier defeated the Calgary Canucks 4-1 at the Max Bell Arena in Calgary on Jan. 9 and blitzed the Drumheller Dragons 6-1 in action played in Drumheller on Jan. 11.
Against the Canucks, Jordan Baker notched a power play goal and a short handed marker to pace the Grizzlys offensively. Other markers came off the sticks of Mark Smyth and Kyle Dorowicz.
For the Canucks, Kyle Burton spoiled Cole Anderson's bid for a shutout with a power play marker late in the third period.
In Drumheller, the Grizzlys' power play was front and center as Michael LeClair, Michael Dempster and Dustin Moore blinked the red light with a man advantage. Singletons were added by Curtis VanGrinsven, Parker Burgess and Francois Auger.
Tallon Berlando was the only marksman for the Dragons.
Between the pipes, jonathon LaRose blocked 32 shots for the Dragons while Cole Anderson made 31 saves.
Playing the Camrose Kodiaks at the Max McLean Arena in Camrose, on Sunday Jan. 15, the Grizzlys seven game winning streak ended as the Kodiaks won the latest battle of the bears with a hard fought 3-2 win.
On power play goals by Matt Schmermund and Logan Gorsalitz, along with an even strength goal from Scott Kobialko, the Kodiaks headed into the first period intermission with a comfortable 3-0 lead.
Ryan Hore and Francois Auger notched the Grizzlys' goals in the second stanza.
All-star netminder, David Thompson turned aside 31 shots in the Kodiaks net while the tandem of Matthew Wong and Cole Anderson combined for 23 saves.
With the win, the Kodiaks moved ahead of the Brooks Bandits into second place in the Rogers Wireless south division standings, nine points behind the front running Grizzlys.
Grizzlys' head coach, Kevin Hasselberg, noted the players are taking every game on a game to game basis.
"Right now they're not looking at the standings, it doesn't matter to them if we are ten or two points ahead of our nearest opponent," Hasselberg said.
"All of the players are focused on other things other than the win and this is very important as to the development of the players individually or for the team," said Hasselberg.
"Every player has certain things they want to accomplish in each game and they are cent red on this," Hasselberg said.
"They judge their performance on whether they have met their goals set out by themselves before each game," Hasselberg added.
"Their success depends on meeting individual or team goals," Hasselberg said.
Although the Grizzlys have a comfortable division lead, Hasselber insists the players are concentrating on the upcoming league games and not the playoffs.
"Most of the players, realize the playoffs will be a rewarding experience," Hasselberg noted.
"And they also know the regular season is not over yet and in order to be in the playoffs they must continue to win hockey games," Hasselberg said indicating a losing streak could take them out of post season contention.
Most of the remaining games are against south division teams as the Grizzlys have just three games scheduled against northern division foes, two games against the Grande Prairie Storm and a single encounter with the Spruce Grove Saints.
Last year, the Grizzlys battled the Drumheller Dragons and the Calgary Royals for the final post season position and came up short by a single point.
"Our veteran players know what they went through last season in trying to make the play offs and I am certain they don't want to go through it again this year," Hasselberg said.
"The south division is too evenly matched, if we let our guard down now we will be out of playoff contention in no time," hasselberg concluded.
This week, the Grizzlys play two games on the road against the Bandits in Brooks on Jan. 18 and the Drayton Valley Thunder on Fri. Jan. 20.
Their next home games are on Jan. 28 against the Canmore Eagles and on Jan. 29 against the Brooks Bandits.


Grizzlys maintain division lead
By Barry Williams
January 9, 2006

With a pair of victories this past week end at the Olds Sportscomplex, the Olds Grizzlys maintained their six point lead over the Brooks Bandits in the Rogers Wireless South division standings.
In the most recent statistics released by the AJHL, the Grizzlys have compiled 52 points with the Bandits chalking up 46 points. A couple of points behind the Bandits with 44 points are the Drumheller Dragons with the defending AJHL champions, the Camrose Kodiaks, sitting in fourth place with 42 points.
Meanwhile, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons have the best record in the AJHL with 67 points and lead the Bonnyville Pontiacs (60) by seven points in the Rogers Wireless North division standings.
On Friday, Jan.6, the Grizzlys received outstanding goaltending by Cole Anderson in downing the Grande Prairie Storm 3-1, while on Saturday, Jan. 7, the Grizzlys needed double overtime to defeat the Bonnyville Pontiacs 4-3.
Against the Storm, Anderson turned aside 35 shots in picking up the win. After giving the Storm an early 1-0 first period lead on a goal by Chris Wilson, Anderson settled down and shut the door on the Storm's high powered offensive threat for the remainder of the game. He was particularly outstanding in the third period as he made several brilliant saves when the Storm were enjoying the power play.
At the other end of the rink, Jordan Ramstead handled 32 shots between the pipes for the Storm.
Blinking the red light for the Grizzlys were Jordan Baker, Braden Desmet and Adam Ross
With two high scoring teams battling it out on the ice, fans expected an offensive onslaught of goals but Grizzlys' head coach, Kevin Hasselberg, was not surprised at the low scoring game.
"I thought we kept the Wilson line in check for most of the game," Hasselberg said.
When they did have a chance to score Anderson shut the door, allowing just the power play goal.
Throughout the current season, the Grizzlys' penalty killing has improved and Hasselberg was quick to praise the penalty killing units.
"Except for the one goal our penalty killers were sharp especially in the third period," said Hasselberg.
"We have the best penalty killing record in the south division and when the penalty killers are pressing their forwards we limit the opposition scoring chances," Hasselberg added.
Against the Pontiacs, Braden Desmet notched his third goal of the game with just over a minute remaining in the second overtime period to give the Grizzlys the victory.
Steve Hougen and Francois Auger notched the other goals for the Grizzlys with
Mark Letestu with a pair, Bryand Dyke and Matt Brown netting the Pontiacs' goals.
Between the pipes, Anderson turned in another steady performance blocking 40 shots while Chad Ferris kicked out 35 shots in the Pontiacs' net.
This week, the Grizzlys play a pair of road games against the Calgary Canucks on Jan. 9 and the Drumheller Dragons on Jan. 11. They return to the friendly confines of the Olds Sportscomplex on Friday, jan.13 against the Calgary Royals.


Viking Cup rewarding experience for Grizzlys' players
By Barry 5 Williams
January 8, 2006

It is considered one of the best Junior A hockey tournaments in Canada and for three Olds Grizzlys' players the Viking Cup was a rewarding experience.
Forwards Dustin Moore and Kyle Dorowicz along with defenceman Ryan Ekdahl were among 25 players selected to the AJHL South Division allstar team which placed second at the Annual Viking Cup Tournament held in Camrose from Dec.26-Jan., 2006.
A showcase for Junior A hockey in Western Canada, the event was dominated by the Alberta Junior A Hockey League as the AJHL North allstars defeated the AJHL South allstars 4-3 in the championship game held on Jan. 2, 2006.
Heading into the final game of the tournament both AJHL teams were undefeated in round robin play.
Although the AJHL is proud of the exciting offensive hockey displayed by member teams, the Viking Cup final game was somewhat of a defensive struggle largely due to the exceptional netminding of Kyle Richter, Ben Scrivens and Scott Gudmanson.
Richter went the entire distance in the South allstars' net blocking 37 shots while Scrivens and Gudmanson combined to block 32 shots in the North allstars net.
With the teams deadlocked at 3 goals apiece heading into the final stanza, Mark Letestu, the league's leading scorer, notched the winning goal, his second of the game mid way through the period.
Other North allstars goals came off the sticks of David Murray and Blake Hamilton.
On the scoresheet, the Grizzlys' players were front and center for the South allstars, as Dorowicz and Moore blinked the red light as did Matt Boyd.
Richter, the Brooks Bandits exceptional netminder, was named the tournament's most outstanding player while Dorowicz and Moore led all scorers.
For the past twenty years, the Viking Cup has been a pernament fixture in Camrose during the Christmas holidays. Originally started by the Augastana University Vikings as an university tournament, it has included allstar teams from the BC Junior Hockey League, Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and U-18 teams from Europe for the past ten years.
Next year, the Viking Cup will be held in fort McMurray, AB and will return to Camrose in 2008 and be played in a brand new arena.
Besides the actual participation at the tournament, the players are also afforded the opportunity of experiencing different cultures as the European teams bring their unique traditions to Canada.
"I am extremely proud of the players who represented the Olds Grizzlys at this year's Viking Cup," said head coach Kevin Hasselberg.
According to Hasselberg, it is an honor for the players to participate in the Viking Cup and they should cherish every moment of the prestigious tournament.
And the tournament directly benefits the Grizzlys as the three players have shared their experiences in the dressing room and their inspired play on the ice has encouraged the entire team.
As the players share their Viking Cup experiences with their team mates, their enthusiasm towards the game is spread in the dressing room and on the bench.
"Our younger players not involved in the Viking Cup know if they work hard, carry a positive attitude and are dedicated to the game, they could be part of the Viking Cup next year," Hasselberg added.
"All three players who participated in the Viking Cup are leaders on the bench and in the dressing room and now because of the Viking Cup experience they have become even stronger leaders," Hasselberg said.
Because the players were able to showcase their talents before numerous university scouts, Hasselberg believes their stock has risen and they should be able to ink lucrative scholarships.


Moore leads AJHL South all-stars to victory
By Barry 5 Williams
December 19, 2005

Olds Grizzlys' sniper, Dustin Moore, dented the red light once and added a pair assists to lead the AJHL South All-Stars to a 3-0 victory over Finland in Viking Cup play held in Camrose on Dec. 26.

Drumheller Dragons' leading scorer Derek Werenka and Kyle Burton added the other south all-stars' markers.

In an evenly matched game, the difference was truly the outstanding work by Brooks Bandits' Kyle Richter, who made 24 saves to record the shutout. Richter made several brilliant saves in the third period, when the South All-stars found themselves in trouble due to penalties.
Meanwhile, Finland's backstopper, Niko Hovinen, blocked 22 shots between the pipes.

For Richter it was his first goose egg in Viking Cup tournament play.
It was a flawless start for the AJHL North All-Stars as they rode the solid goaltending of Ben Scrivens to record a 2-0 defeat over Switzerland.
Up front Scrivens received support from Jesse Martin and Jeremy Russell who blinked the red light behind Switzerland goalie Lukas Flueller, who faced 40 shots.

Although not overly busy between the pipes, Scrivens finished the game with 24 saves.

Taking to the ice in their second game, the AJHL South All-Stars doubled up on Switzerland 4-2.

Blinking the red light for the southern all-stars were Derek Werenka, Darren Zurkan, Mike Bolton and Landon Novotney.

For Switzerland, Aurellio Lemm and Sven Berger dented the twine behind netminder David Thompson, who finished the game with 20 saves.

Throughout the entire contest, the south all-stars dominated the play firing 42 shots at Ivan Mantegazzi in the Switzerland net.

Camrose Kodiaks veteran netminder, David Thompson blocked 20 shots. He was brilliant in the first two periods when the game was still a one goal deficit. To secure the victory, the South All-Stars scored three unanswered goals in the third period.

In their second game of the tournament, the North All-Stars defeated Finland 4-1.

Denting the twine for the northern all-stars were Mark Lestu, Taylor Fedun, Jesse Martin and Joel Hentuik. Robert Nyholm was the lone marksman for Finland.

This was the first time the AJHL entered two all-star teams in the Viking Cup.

Round robin play continued right through to Dec. 31. On January 1, 2006, the championship game was played. Results were not known at press time.

Prior to the start of the Viking Cup, the Olds Grizzlys entertained the Germany U-18 Selects in an exhibition tilt played at the Olds Sportscomplex on Friday, Dec. 23.

During the entire contest, the Germany squad used their size and puck control to their advantage skating away with a 6-1 victory.
Grizzlys' head coach, Kevin Hasselberg was impressed with the Germany squad indicating it was a pleasure to watch them in action.
"I had no idea of what to expect from the Germany team but I must say i was impressed," Hasselberg said.

"We were very entertained by the pace the Germans played at," Hasselberg said.

"For a big team, they moved the puck very well, were excellent skaters and didn't shy away from the physical play," Hasselberg added.

"From a fan's perspective, I thought they got their money's worth," Hasselberg said.

Because of a few nagging injuries sustained by some players, Hasselberg had the opportunity to insert five affiliated players into the line-up.

"I thought the players called up for this game were not out of place," said Hasselberg.

"Our coaching staff got to use these players in different situations on the power play and killing penalties," said Hasselberg.

After taking a week off for the Christmas break, the Grizzlys are prepared to swing back into action with a pair of games at the Olds Splortscomplex this coming weekend.

On Fri. January 6, the Grizzlys entertain the Grande Prairie Storm and on Sat. January 7 they tangle with the Bonnyville Pontiacs.


Grizzlys increase lead in south division
By Barry 5 Williams
December 19, 200

With a pair of victories over the Canmore Eagles last week, the Olds Grizzlys have increased their overall lead in the Rogers Wireless South Division to six points over the Brooks Bandits.
Playing both games in Canmore, the Grizzlys posted a 4-2 win on Tuesday, Dec.20 and a 5-1 victory on Thursday Dec.22.
In the first encounter, the Grizzlys relied on the play of the power play and the penalty killers to secure the victory.
After the first period, the Grizzlys held a 2-0 lead on a power play marker off the stick of Dustin Moore and a short handed goal from Kyle Dorowicz, his third of the year.
After Eagles' sniper Chris Berry, cut the Grizzlys lead to 2-1, Steve Hougen blinked the redlight on a power play to restore the Grizzlys two goal lead to 3-1 after forty minutes of play.
In the final stanza, Dan McGuinness netted the Eagles' second marker while Braden Desmet replied for the Grizzlys.
Between the pipes, Cole Anderson blocked 33 shots while Eagles' netminder Ryan Rondeau kicked out 37 shots.
Meanwhile, in the second game on Thursday evening, the Eagles controlled the play right from the opening face-off but were unable to take advantage of their scoring opportunities.
Part of the Eagles' frustration in their poor goal productivity was due to the outstanding play of Anderson, who stopped everything except the kitchen sink.
Anderson was spectacular in the net making 45 saves. On several occasions, the Eagles were left alone in front of the Grizzlys' net and were afforded several glorious scoring opportunities but were denied by Anderson, who played one of his best games of the season.
Meanwhile, Nick Olynyk made 31 saves in the Eagles' net.
In the first period of play, the teams traded goals as Danny McSween netted the Eagles' goal and Curtis Beaudin replied for the Grizzlys.
After the opening face-off in the second stanza, Jeff Smyth took over the scoring honors as he blinked the redlight twice while Beaudin posted his second goal of the game.
During the third period, Smyth completed his hat trick with the only goal of the stanza.
Anderson, an AJHL all-star last season, has posted a 2.38 goals against average along with a .919 save percentage while rookie Matthew Wong has a 2.48 goals against average coupled with a .919 save.
Taking a glance at the AJHL scoring leaders, Desmet is in seventh place with 52 points on 15 goals and 37 assists.
Two Bonnyville Pontiacs' sharpshooters, Dylan Winchar and Mark Lester lead the scoring derby with 74 points apiece.
With the wins, the Grizzlys have increased their point total to 48 points while the Bandits have racked up 42 points. A point behind the Bandits with 31 are the Camrose Kodiaks while the Drumheller Dragons are in fourth place with 39 points.
During the Christmas break, the Viking Cup will be played in Camrose from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. An annual tournament, the Viking Cup attracts teams from the British Columbia Junior Hockey League, the AJHL, the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League as well as teams from Europe.
Representing the AJHL are the South Division all-stars as well as the North Division all-stars.
Tree Grizzlys' players, Ryan Eckdahl, Dustin Moore and Kyle Dorowicz will be suiting up for the South Division all-stars
After the Christmas break, the Grizzlys will entertain the Grande Prairie Storm on Jan. 6 and the Bonnyville Pontiacs on Jan. 7.


Grizzlys move into first place
By Barry Williams
December 19, 2005

It wasn't a hostile take-over of the Brooks Bandits and the price was right for the Olds Grizzlys, two points.

With a 3-1 victory over the Brooks Bandits on Wed. Dec. 14 at the Olds Sportscomplex, the Grizzlys moved into first place in the Rogers Wireless south division standings two points ahead of the Bandits.

In the latest AJHL statistics released on Dec. 19, the Grizzlys have 44 points two ahead of the Bandits with 42 points.

This past weekend, the Grizzlys had an opportunity to widen the point spread but failed to do so by dropping a home and home series with the Drumheller Dragons.

Playing in Drumheller on Fri. Dec. 16, the Grizzlys lost 3-2 and in Olds on Sat. Dec. 17, the Dragons scored three unanswered goals in the third period to skate away with a hard fought 5-4 victory.

Before over 800 home-town fans on Saturday evening, the Grizzlys completely dominated the Dragons in every facet of the game except on the scoreboard.
During the encounter, the Grizzlys held the territorial play peppering Dragons' netminder, Jonathon LaRose, with 48 shots.

LaRose was simply outstanding between the pipes making several brilliant saves and when the final buzzer sounded, the Grizzlys' sharpshooters left the ice shaking their heads.

Mid way through the third period, the Grizzlys held a 4-2 lead and were enroute to pick up two points.

However, a series of penalties against the black and gold allowed Aaron Knelson to net a pair of power play goals to draw the Dragons even at four goals a piece.

Jeff Young notched the winning goal with four minutes left to play in the game.

As the clock clicked down to less than a minute to play, the Grizzlys pulled netminder Cole Anderson in favor of an extra attacker but were unable to notch the tying marker.
LaRose finished the game with 29 saves while Cole Anderson faced 18 shots.

Dustin Moore blinked the red light twice to pace the Grizzlys' scoring. Singleton markers were netted by Jeff Smyth and Curtis Beaudoin.

Other goal scorers for the Dragons were Derek Werenka and Joel Chisholm.

"Actually, we had no business being in this game, the Grizzlys outplayed us by a wide margin," said Dragons head coach, Rob Hegberg.

"There's no doubt the difference was our goal tending, LaRose played an outstanding game," Hegberg said.

According to Hegberg, theDragons' veteran players are leading by example and are excellent role models for the rookies.

"Over the summer our coaching staff spent countless hours recruiting players and I think we have the right mixture now," noted Hegberg.

"When you're playing the top team in the division, it's easy for the players to become motivated," Hegberg added, indicating the Dragons have a lot of respect for the Grizzlys.

"LaRose is an excellent goalie and this is not the first time he has beat us this year," said Grizzlys' head coach, Kevin Hasselberg.

Although the Grizzlys had lots of shots on LaRose, Hasselberg felt they didn't follow up on their scoring opportunities.

"We have to capitalize on our scoring chances," Hasselberg said indicating the forwards

have to drive to the net and pick up the garbage goals. In Drumheller, Anderson and LaRose were the stars of the game as both goalies turned in solid performances.

Anderson finished the game with 27 saves while LaRose blocked 29 shots.

Braden Desmet and and Adam Ross handled the Grizzlys' scoring. Meanwhile, Laine Allen, Jade Portwood and Derek Werenka notched the Dragons' goals.

Against the Bandits, Jordan Baker, Ryan Ekdahl and Kyle Dorowicz dented the twine for the Grizzlys.

Replying for the Bandits was Jade Portwood.

"I thought both teams played a bit conservative out there tonight," said Bandits head coach, Kevin Higo.

"Because this game was a battle for first place, the players didn't want to make a mistake," Higo said.

"They (Grizzlys) are offensive minded and if a team makes a mistake in their own end they can burn you," Higo added.

Once again the Grizzlys faced a hot netminder, as all-star Kyle Richter made 48 saves and was the only reason the Bandits were able to stay close to the Grizzlys.

"He (Richter) is probably the only reason we're challenging for first place at this point in the season," said Higo.

Because the Grizzlys have four lines with the potential of filling the net, Higo noted they are a hard team to match lines against.

"We're not a high scoring team so we have to play a sound defensive game to give us

the opportunity to win," Higo said.

"We're not a team to give up and we battle right to the final buzzer," Higo said, noting most of the games are decided by a single goal.

"Tonight, I thought they were better prepared than us and this was the difference in the game," Higo noted.

"It's not hard getting up for a game when there is so much on the line," said Grizzlys assistant coach, Chad Allen.

"We were very well prepared for this game and for the most part the players executed the game plan to perfection," Allen added.

Because the Bandits are great puck handlers, Allen indicated the Grizzlys were patient in their forechecking and as a result controlled the play in the neutral zone.

"I thought our transition game was well executed and we dominated the middle of the ice," Allen said.

"They didn't give us many good scoring opportunities," Higo said.

As a result of last week's AJHL action, the Grizzlys are leading the Rogers Wireless south division standings with 44 points while the Bandits have chalked up 42 points. Holding down third place with 41 points are the Camrose Kodiaks while the Dragons are fourth with 37 points.

This week the Grizzlys play two games against the Eagles in Canmore on Dec. 20 and Dec. 22. Their next action in the friendly confines of the Olds Sportsplex is on Fri. Dec. 23 when they entertain the German national team.


Defensive struggle against Oil Barons
By Barry Williams
December 12, 2005

Two teams priding themselves in defensive play were involved in a defensive struggle at the Olds Sportsplex on Friday, Dec. 11.

When the final buzzer sounded the Fort McMurray Oil Barons skated off with a hard fought 2-1 victory over the Grizzlys.

And the Oil Barons rode the spectacular goaltending of Jimmy Bernier, who turned aside 33 shots fired his way by the offensive minded Grizzlys.
"Our goaltending has been very good throughout the season," said Oil Barons head coach, Gord Thibodeau.

"I thought Bernier was the difference in the game tonight," Thibodeau added.
"He made several outstanding saves in the second period to keep us in the game," Thibodeau noted.

Grizzlys' head coach, Kevin Hasselberg, agreed with his Oil Barons' counterpart saying..."their goaltending was the main reason the game was so close."
"We had several good scoring chances on our power plays but were turned away," Hasselberg added.

On a goal by Oil Barons' veteran sniper Matt Lamirande, the visitors held a slim one goal lead after the first period of play. in the second frame, Brandon Skinner increased the Oil Barons margin to 2-0.

Late in the third period, Kyle Dorowicz netted the Grizzlys' only goal, a short handed effort. With 53 seconds left on the scoreboard clock, the Grizzlys pulled netminder Matthew Wong for an extra attacker but they failed to net a tying goal.
Although Wong faced only 18 shots, he gave the Grizzlys the opportunity for a possible victory.

Thibodeau wasn't too concerned about the limited scoring chances the Oil Barons had during the game.

In most of our games, we've been out shot," said Thibodeau, noting his forwards shoot at the most opportune time.

"I thought the Grizzlys limited our scoring opportunities by keeping our forwards to the outside," Thibodeau noted.

Despite the loss, Hasselberg wasn't to worried about the negatives of the game and praised his players for playing a very well executed game.

"When a team plays a close checking game the opposition is going to have limited scoring opportunities," Hasselberg added.

"There was no doubt we out played them in both ends of the rink," Hasselberg said.
Meanwhile, the ability to shut down the Oil Barons high octane offensive threat was a feather in the Grizzlys' cap.

"We have three high scoring lines and the Grizzlys did an excellent job in shutting us down," Thibodeau added.

The win for the Oil Barons kept them in top spot in the Rogers Wireless north division standings while the loss for the Grizzlys kept them two points be hind the Brooks Bandits front runners in the Rogers Wireless south division standings.
In their last eight games the Grizzlys have racked up six wins, a loss and an overtime loss and Hasselberg is confident the Grizzlys will be at or near the top of the standings at the Christmas break.

"Our next game against the Brooks Bandits is important for it will be a battle for first place," said Hasselberg.

"We can't afford a loss if we want to keep pace with them," said Hasselberg.
One of the reasons, the Grizzlys have been successful in the past few games is the work of the penalty killers who have not allowed a power play goal in three games up to Dec. 10.

However, at the Max Bell Arena in Calgary on Sunday Dec. 11, the Calgary Canucks dented the twine three times on the power play but were defeated 5-3 by the Grizzlys.
Ben Farrer, Bennett Royer and Mitch McColm dented the twine for the Canucks.
For the Grizzlys Curtis VanGrinsven, Jeff Smyth, Parker Burgess, Steve Hougen and Kyle Dorowicz blinked the red light behind Patrick Inglis, who finished the game with 33 saves.
In his first game back after an injury, Cole Anderson made 20 saves between the pipes for the Grizzlys.

A rough chippy game, the Grizzlys lost the services of Parker Burgess who was injured when he was cross checked into the boards by Kyle Gotto, who received a five minute major and a game misconduct for his foolish actions. On the power play, the Grizzlys were unable to dent the twine mostly due to some exceptional saves by Inglis and scrambly play.

Besides playing the Brooks Bandits at the Sportscomplex on Wed. Dec. 14, the Grizzlys have a home and home series with the Drumheller Dragons. On Fri. Dec. 16, the teams will tangle in Drumheller and return to Olds on Sat. Dec. 17.


Grizzlys complete multi player trade with Oil Barons
By Barry Williams
December 5, 2005

Olds Grizzlys' head coach, Kevin Hasselberg, has tested the trade waters.
On Thursday. Dec.1, Hasselberg completed a multi player deal with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.

In the deal, the Grizzlys sent Jody Pedersen and Tyler Webb in exchange for Steve Hougen and Ryan Hore.

A three year veteran of AJHL battles, Pedersen came to the Grizzlys last year in a transaction with the Camrose Kodiaks. An AJHL all-star, Pedersen was chosen to the AJHL all rookie team three years ago and has played in two-All-star games as well as the Prospects game.

Meanwhile, Webb was in his second season with the Grizzlys. An excellent two way forward, Webb made his presence felt with the Grizzlys playing in different situations including on the power play and killing penalties.

As a rookie defenceman, Hore provided the Oil Barons with size and has the ability to deliver bone crushing body checks and he doesn't shy away from rough play as he has racked up 40 minutes in penalties so far this season.

Hougen is a gifted forward and will be a perfect fit in the Grizzlys' offensive threat. A three year veteran, Hougen has had his best offensive start as he has racked up 25 points on 14 goals and 11 assists. Besides providing offence, Hougen is also a solid defensive player as he is a masterful penalty killer.

According to Hasselberg, the trade benefits both the Grizzlys and the Oil Barons and he felt comfortable in making the deal.

"These transactions are a good fit for the teams and the players involved," said Hasselberg.
"I am very excited to have both players Hougen and Hore in the Grizzlys' line up," Hasselberg added.

"And the trade will allow both Pedersen and Webb a better opportunity to excel in a place where they are capable of playing in," noted Hasselberg.

In AJHL action this past week end, the Grizzlys put on a defensive clinic, as they defeated the Okotoks Oilers 5-1 in Okotoks on Friday, Dec. 2, and downed the Canmore Eagles 4-1 at the Olds Sportscomplex before 500 fans on Saturday, Dec. 3.

In both games their attention to play a solid defensive games reaped dividends as they failed to allow a power play goal to be scored against them in 12 opportunities.
On the other hand, their power play was smoking hot as they dented the twine for 5 goals in 11 chances with the man advantage.

And between the pipes, rookie netminder Matthew Wong stole the spot light in both games allowing just a pair of goals while handling a combined 60 shots.

Wong, filling in for the injured Cole Anderson has appeared in 15 games and has compiled a 2.33 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. Anderson has played 16 games and has a 2.60 goals against average and a save percentage of .913.

Against the Oilers, Parker Burgess dented the twine for a power play and a short handed goal to pace the Grizzlys offensively. Kirk Deeg, Braden Desmet and Kyle Dorowicz rounded out the scoring.
For the oilers, Nathan Zurak blinked the red light behind Wong who turned aside 27 shots. Between the Oilers' pipes Brycen Ebberwein handled just 15 shots.

In Olds, Michael LeClair notched a pair of goals with Parker Durgess and Dustin Moore adding singletons.

Netting the Eagles' lone goal was Mitch Jaffray.

Wong made 33 saves while the Eagles combination of Ryan Rondeau and nick Olynyk faced 37 shots.

With the wins, the Grizzlys closed the gap for first place honors in the Rogers Wireless south division standings to just a couple of points. Brooks Bandits continue to lead the division standings with 40 points while the Grizzlys have 38 points with two games in hand.

This week the Grizzlys trekk northward to Fort Saskatchewan to play the Traders on Tuesday, Dec. 6 and entertain the Fort McMurray Oil Barons at the Sportsplex on Friday Dec.9 at 7:30 p.m.


Once a Grizzly always a Grizzly
By Barry Williams
November 21, 2005

For four years, Aaron Sept was a stalwart player for the Olds Grizzlys.

And with his junior hockey playing days behind him, Sept has decided to give something back to the organization who believed in him as a player and as a person. Sept is now an assistant coach with the Grizzlys and he believes he can make a difference with the current players by teaching them what he learned as a player and by relating to them the life experiences of being a Junior A hockey player.

"When I was a player with the Grizzlys, the organization and the entire community treated me well," said Sept.

"Because the people were so good to me when I played here, it made the decision of giving something back to the community very easy for me," Sept noted, indicating he is proud to be associated with the Grizzlys again.

"It is one of those things I will never regret and I hope I can be involved for years to come," Sept said.

"By helping out as an assistant coach, is my way of giving something back to the Grizzlys and I guess saying thanks to them for giving me the opportunity of playing in Olds," Sept said.

An AJHL all-star, Sept was an offensive minded player comfortable playing along the blue line and at times taking a turn on the forward line.

His dedication to the game and volunteering to assist the community earned him the prestigious Stuey Stewart award, an honor he is very proud of.

As a player, Sept had an astute mind for the game and he always strived to learn more in an effort to make him a better player. For most of his career here in Olds, Sept played for Garry VanHereweghe and he feels the knowledge he gained from the former AJHL Coach of the Year will make him a better coach.

"I looked up to him (VanHereweghe), he's a great coach and I just hope I can be as good as he is," Sept added.

"Everytime he (VanHereweghe) has a team the players respect him and because of this they are going to work as hard as they can," Sept added.

"And he always respects his players," Sept said.

"If there is one thing I can relate to the players it is to respect the coaching staff and their teammates," Sept indicated.

In AJHL action this past week, the Grizzlys picked up three out of a possible four points by defeating the Drayton Valley Thunder 1-0 on Nov. 15 in Olds and losing a 4-3 overtime encounter to the Okotoks Oilers in Okotoks on Nov. 18.

Against Drayton Valley, the only noise the Thunder made was when their bus started up and left town.

Although the scoresheet indicated a defensive struggle, the game on the ice was completely different as the Grizzlys held the territorial advantage outshooting the Thunder 28 to 16.

After a scoreless first period, Michael LeClair dented the twine with a power play marker seven minutes into the second period.

In the final frame, the Thunder were knocking on the Grizzlys' doorstep but they were denied entrance as Cole Anderson made several exceptional saves in registering his first goose egg of the season.

Meanwhile in Okotoks, Neil Graham netted the winning goal midway into the first overtime session beating Anderson on a partial breakaway.

Rounding out the scoring for the Oilers were Carter Madsen, Everett Sheen and Andrew Owasiak.

For the Grizzlys, Braden Desmet, Curtis VanGrinsven and Adam Ross blinked the red light. Ross's goal with two minutes remaining sent the game into the extra session.

With the single point garnished from the Oilers, the Grizzlys moved their seasonal total to 28 points good enough for second place in the Rogers Wireless south division standings. Leading the way in the south are the Brooks Bandits with 38 points. There is a log jam in the middle as the Camrose Kodiaks with 27 points are just a point behind the Grizzlys and one point ahead of the Drumheller Dragons with 26 points. In the past two weeks, the Dragons have fallen back as they were at one time challenging the Bandits for the lead in the south.

In the Rogers Wireless north division, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons are showing the way with 48 points, three ahead of the Spruce Grove Saints with 45 points. in the latest Canadian Junior Hockey League statistics, the Oil Barons are ranked as the best junior A team in Canada.

With 31 points on ten goals and 21 assists, Desmet is the leading scorer for the Grizzlys and has moved into the top ten in league scoring.

Veteran Mark Lestu, of the Bonnyville pontiacs, is the league's top sniper with 56 points on 22 goals and 34 assists. Team-mate Dylan Wichar is second with 51 points.
This week the Grizzlys take to the ice against the Calgary Canucks in Calgary on Tue. Nov. 22 and travel to Camrose to challenge the Kodiaks on Thur., Nov. 24. They play host to the Calgary Royals on Fri. Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m in the friendly confines of the Olds Sportsplex.


Grizzlys holding down second place
By Barry Williams
November 13
, 2005

After picking up five out of a possible six points in AJHL action last week, the Olds Grizzlys are now holding down second place in the Rogers Wireless south division standings.

In 23 games so far this season, the Grizzlys have garnished 25 points on 10 wins, 8 defeats, 2 ties and 3 overtime defeats.

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, the Grizzlys defeated the Brooks Bandits at the Olds Sportsplex 6-2 while on Saturday Nov. 13, the Grizzlys skated past the Sherwood Park Crusaders 7-1. Playing in Carstairs on Friday, Nov.11, the Grizzlys and the Drumheller Dragons played to a 2-2 draw.

In all three games the Grizzlys were backstopped by outstanding netminding and stingy defensive play.

When the Grizzlys commenced league play this season, Grizzlys' head coach, Kevin Hasselberg, realized the defensive play would have to be solid if they were to generate any success. And defensively the Grizzlys have been superb as they have allowed just 63 goals against, third overall in league play.
"So far this season, the entire team has been working at improving their play in their own end," said Hasselberg.

"And they're very proud of their defensive play," added Hasselberg.
"We've won a few close games so far this season and this is a direct result of our defensive play and the maturity of the players," said Hasselberg, noting every player is comfortable playing a defensive game when they have a lead.
Because most of the players are veterans, Hasselberg noted the players approach the game with more confidence and they don't panic as much when they are involved in close games.

Part of the Grizzlys recent improvement in their defensive play has been the play of the netminding tandem of veteran Cole Anderson and rookie Matthew Wong.

"Both goaltenders have gained the respect of the players and they are comfortable playing in front of either goaltender," noted Hasselberg.

Although Anderson, an AJHL all-star last season, has played the bulk of the games this season, Hasselberg isn't afraid to ink in Wong as the starting goaltender. And Wong has responded when he is between the pipes as he has posted a 2.40 goals against average and a save percentage of .925. Among the masked men in the league, Wong is ranked as the fourth best and he has earned his place between the pipes.

Offensively, the Grizzlys are led by a crew of veteran snipers and although not one Grizzly is in the top ten in league scoring, the Grizzlys are an offensive threat every time they lace up their skates as they have racked up 80 goals and have the third best goals scored record in the league.

Despite giving opposing netminders sun burnt necks, the Grizzlys offensive threat has been spread around and not one player is within the top ten in league scoring.

With four balanced lines, Hasselberg has the luxury of playing any line in different situations.

"All four lines are contributing offensively and it seems a different line will step up their play in any given game." said Hasselberg.

In the off-season, the Grizzlys made a deal with the Drumheller Dragons to bring Braden Desmet, a noted veteran goal scorer, into the fold and the trade has reaped divedends as Desmet currently leads the Grizzlys in scoring with 29 points on 9 goals and 20 assists.

"He (Desmet) is an exciting unselfish player and a regular contributor in different situations," Hasselberg noted.

Desmet has played on a regular line, the power play and killing penalties. Two of his goals have been scored shorthanded and four have been notched on the power play.

Against the Bandits, Desmet had a four point outing denting the twine twice and adding a pair of helpers and was named the game star.

Other players to notch a goal against the Bandits were Dave Cowan, Curtis VanGrinsven, Jody Pederson and Jordan Baker.

With just two minutes left in the game, Judd Blackwater spoiled Mathew Wong's bid for a shut out notching an unassisted power play goal for the Bandits.

In Carstairs, the Grizzlys and the Dragons treated the 1,100 fans at the game to an exciting contest highlighted by exceptional goaltending as the Dragons' Jonathan LaRose and Mathew Wong put on a netminding clinic turning aside several glorious scoring opportunities executed by the opposition sharpshooters. LaRose made 48 saves while Wong handled 27 shots.
For the Grizzlys Tyler Webb notched both goals while Brandon Knelson and Kyle Anheliger replied for the Dragons.

Against the Crusaders, Tyler Webb chipped in with a pair of goals with singletons being added by Dave Cowan, Michael LeClair, Jeff Smyth, Braden Desmet and Parker Burgess.

Reid Fraser replied for the Crusaders.

This week the Grizzlys entertain the Drayton Valley Thunder on Wednesday Nov. 16 and travel to Okotoks on Friday Nov. 18 to tangle with the Oilers.


Grizzlys pl
ay inconsistent

By Barry Williams
October 31
, 2005

     Up and down like a yoyo is the only way to describe the Grizzlys' recent play in the AJHL.

     When play commenced last week, the Grizzlys found themselves in a battle for first place with the Brooks Bandits in the Rogers Wireless south division standings. At the end of a three game string, the Grizzlys failed to register a win and are now in fourth place stuck with 20 points.

     On Tuesday, Oct. 25 at the Olds Sportsplex, the Grizzlys lost a 3-2 overtime decision to the Fort Saskatchewan Traders while on , Sat. Oct. 29, the Canmore Eagles flew into town and left with a 3-2 victory. Meanwhile, in Brooks on Friday, Oct. 28, the Bandits robbed the Grizzlys with a 4-2 decision.

       Against the Traders, the game was a battle between a seasoned veteran goaltender, Traders' Dean Stabler and a raw rookie Grizzlys' Mathew Wong. Throughout the entire game the masked men made several brilliant saves robbing the sharpshooters time after time.

     Both teams dented the twine with power play goals in the first period as Michael Dempster scored for the Grizzlys and Blair Hennes replied for the Traders.

    After Michael LeClair gave the Grizzlys a slim 2-1 lead after forty minutes of play, Taylor Fedum sent the game into the extra session scoring with just 16 seconds left in the game. Three minutes into the overtime, Ryan Donald beat Wong by sliding a loose puck underneath the Grizzlys' netminder securing the Traders' victory.

     At the end of the game it was not difficult in selecting game stars as Stabler made 38 saves and Wong 35.

     A struggling Eagles team showed heart and desire in defeating the Grizzlys on Saturday evening. With just a pair of wins to their credit, the Eagles are marred in last place in the south division and on paper it should have been a win for the Grizzlys but hockey has never stuck to the norm.

   Although the Grizzlys held the territorial advantage in the game they struggled in finding the back of the Eagles' net as veteran Ryan Rondeau, playing his second game of the season, blocked 50 shots and was the only threat they could throw at the Grizzlys.

    In describing Rondeau's play, Eagles coach, Bob Miller had just one word, "unbelievable".

    "He (Rondeau) was a major part of our success last year and we're counting on him to have a stand-out year this season," Miller said.

    Although the Eagles went winless for several games at the start of the season this year, Miller has noticed some improvement overall, especially in the past two games where they picked up wins against the Calgary Canucks and Grizzlys.

    "I'm not making any excuses for our poor start but we do have a lot of new faces in the line-up who are knew to junior hockey and of course we were missing our veteran goaltender who was out due to an illness," said Miller.

    "There are a lot of positives to take from this game tonight," added Miller, indicating the players have proven to themselves they can win in this league.

    Heading into the game against the Traders, the Grizzlys were on a winning streak chalking up points in their last seven games.

   "I am not worried about the loss tonight, the players will bounce back," said Grizzlys head coach Kevin Hasselberg.

    And Hasselberg isn't surprised the Grizzlys have climbed up in the south standings and are within striking distance of first place.

    "We had a bad start to the season but the players remained positive and put together a pretty good winning streak," Hasselberg, indicating they can do it again.

    In the past few games, the Grizzlys have made some adjustments to the defense to cover for injuries.

   "Our defense has played excellent in the past few games," said Hasselberg, noting they are moving the puck out of their own end with authority and they are getting involved offensively.

   "When the defense jump up into the play we are more of an offensive threat," Hasselberg said.

   With nine scheduled games against south division teams during November, Hasselberg knows it is a critical part of the schedule.

     "All these games are a difference of four points and if we are able to win the majority of these we will remain at or near the top of the standings," Hasselberg added.

     And Hasselberg knows any successful team is built around good goaltending and he is content with the netminding tandem of Cole Anderson and Matthew Wong.

    "Anderson has proven he is one of the best goaltenders in this league and Wong is an exceptional rookie goaltender," Hasselberg said, noting he is comfortable playing either goalie.

    Anderson, an AJHL all-star last season, is among the top three within the league in goals against and save percentage. As of Oct. 25, Anderson has posted a 2.50 GAA and a save percentage of .931. Meanwhile, Wong has a 2.96 GAA and a .903  save percentage. Overall, the Grizzlys are the third best defensive team within the league having allowed just 47 goals  against in 17 games.

    This week the Grizzlys have just one game against the Calgary Royals at the Father David Bauer Arena. on Wed. Nov. 6


   

Grizzlys elevated to second place in south standings

By Barry Williams
October 24
, 2005

     Two overtime victories in last week's AJHL action have elevated the Olds Grizzlys to second place in the Rogers Wireless South Division standings.

      In Calgary at the Father David Arena on Tuesday Oct. 18, the Grizzlys defeated the Calgary Royals 2-1. Meanwhile, at the Olds Sportsplex on Friday Oct. 21, the Grizzlys edged the Okotoks Oilers 5-4.

      At the Father David Arena, 400 fans were treated to a classic goaltenders dual as the Royals' Matt Dreger and Grizzlys' Cole Anderson put on a netminders' clinic.

    Both goalies were spectacular between the pipes making sensational saves denying the opposition sharpshooters on quality scoring opportunities.

    Most of the Grizzlys' 23 shots at Dreger came from the outside but when the Grizzlys managed to get point blank scoring opportunities, the Royals' netminder turned them aside.

    Michael Dempster dented the twine with just 17 seconds left in the overtime to secure the Grizzlys' win.

    After a scoreless first period, Jeff Matheson  found the back of the net to give the Royals a 1-0 lead after forty minutes of play.

    Late in the third period, Dempster netted a power play goal to send the game into the extra session.

    A wide open affair featuring end to end rushes and  punishing body checks, the Royals held the upperhand in territorial play and were afforded several glorious scoring opportunities. with poor defensive play by the Grizzlys, the Royals were able to penetrate the Grizzlys' end and set up scoring chances through tic tac toe passing. As a result, the Grizzlys' relied on Anderson to keep them in the game and many of his 33 saves were game savers.

     "Only one player came to play and we were fortunate Anderson was on top of his game," said Grizzlys' head coach Kevin Hasselberg.

    "This wasn't the first game Anderson stole for us this season," Hasselberg.

     In six-teen games played this year the Grizzlys have allowed just 44 goals, the lowest in the south division and third overall within the league.

     In Olds on Friday evening, the Grizzlys dominated the first period jumping out into a 3-0 lead midway through the period. Jordan Baker, Francois Auger and Kyle Dorowicz dented the twine for the Grizzlys.

     After forty minutes of play, on a goal off the stick of Scott Kenway the Oilers closed the margin to 3-1.

     Midway through the final stanza they held a 4-3 lead by scoring three unanswered goals netted by Cole Geddes, John Webb and Neil Graham. With just one minute left to play, the Grizzlys went on the  power play, pulled Anderson and sent the game into overtime with a power play marker by Baker with just three seconds left to play.

   Thirty seconds into the extra session Baker completed his hat trick notching another power play marker.

    "There are no excuses for losing this game," said a disgusted Oilers coach, Garry VanHereweghe.

    "We lost our composure late in the third period and handed them the victory," VanHereweghe added.

    "Because the south division is so close in the standings, every game is importan even the ones early in the season," VanHereweghe said.

    "In the past three games against the Grizzlys we handed them six points," noted VanHereweghe.

    Meanwhile, Hasselberg praised his players for keeping their cool late in the game.

    "Give the players credit they took some cheap shots late in the game and just skated away," said Hasselberg noting he was pleasantly surprised with the power play.

    With the two wins the Grizzlys increased their point total to 19 and are just one back of the front running Brooks Bandits in the south division standings.

    This week the Grizzlys entertain the Fort Saskatchewan Traders on Tue. Oct.25 and tangle with the Camrose Kodiaks at home on Sat. Oct.29. Their only away game is slated for Brooks on Fri. Oct. 28.


Grizzlys building character

By Barry Williams
October
16, 2005

 

    Team character often emerges when there is turmoil on or off the ice, in the dressing room or outside the arena.

    During the Olds Grizzlys recent four game losing streak the players remained positive and their gritty play of late has enabled them to pick up points in their last five games which includes four wins and a single overtime tie.

    Grizzlys' head coach Kevin Hasselberg commended the players for their work ethic, dedication and commitment towards their team mates during their struggles of enduring the losing streak.

    "Everyone in the dressing room including the coaching staff was feeling the effects of the losing streak along with the rumors floating around town," said Hasselberg.

    "When a team is losing everyone wants to point the finger and blame the other player," added Hasselberg.

    "We are a very close knit team and when things aren't going right on the ice everyone wants to take responsibility for their efforts," Hasselberg note.

    "It's not called being selfish, it's building Grizzly character," added Hasselberg.

    When the Grizzlys first skated into the Alberta Junior Hockey League, their team was built around character and over the years the Grizzlys' distinct character of believing in themselves has reaped dividends in league play and Hasselberg is confident this year's team can be built around the character of past teams.

    "Ask any player in the dressing room if they are proud to wear the Grizzlys' uniform and they will answer yes," Hasselberg indicated.

    "We want to maintain this character of past teams," said Hasselberg indicating team character is directly responsible for the Grizzlys turning around their misfortunes.

Last week, the Grizzlys kept their point streak alive by defeating the Calgary Canucks 5-2 at the Olds Sportsplex on Oct.12 and downing the Brooks Bandits 3-1 in Brooks on Oct.15.

    In Olds, the Grizzlys dominated the game by building a comfortable 5-0 lead midway through the third period.

    Dustin Moore dented the twine twice with power play markers to pace the Grizzlys' scoring attack. Other goals came off the sticks of Jeff Smyth, Braden Desmet and Tyler Webb.

    With under five minutes left on the scoreboard, the Canucks netted their two goals with a power play marker from Bennet Royer and a short handed tally from Tyler Gotto.

    A high energy game, both clubs had numerous scoring opportunities but were turned aside by outstanding saves from Canucks' tender Patrick Inglis and Grizzlys' masked man Cole Anderson.

    Anderson, named the Grizzlys' Player of the Game, turned aside 33 shots while Inglis faced 35 shots.

   Meanwhile in Brooks, Anderson was once again called upon to keep the Grizzlys in the game as the Bandits, first overall in the Rogers Wireless South Division standings, held the territorial advantage peppering Anderson with 30 shots.

   Between the pipes for the Bandits, Kyle Richter, handled only 19 shots.

   After a scoreless first period, the Grizzlys held a 2-0 lead after forty minutes of play. Jordan Baker dented the twine on the power play and Braden Desmet notched a short handed goal to account for the Grizzlys' scoring in the middle frame.

   With three minutes left in the game, Judd Blackwater, the Bandits' leading scorer, spoiled  Anderson's bid for the goose egg notching a power play goal at 17:27.

    In an effort to gain even ground, The Bandits pulled Richter in favor of an extra attacker but the moved was fruitless as Desmet notched an empty net goal with just four seconds left in the game.

   Since the first drop of the puck commencing the current AJHL season, Hasselberg has stressed the old adage, "there is no I in team," and he is satisfied with the overall team play.

    "All five of our goals scored against the Canucks tonight were a result of the puck control as not one of our markers was unassisted," Hasselberg said.

    "In order for a team to have success in this league the players must work together, there is no room for players being selfish," added Hasselberg.

    Over the past two weeks, Hasselberg has tweaked the lines and he now feels he can roll all four lines against any opposition line and have success.

    "Right now I am satisfied with the line combinations," Hasselberg added.

    With their recent winning streak the Grizzlys have moved into a third place tie with the Okotoks Oilers. Both teams have 15 points, one behind the Drumheller Dragons and three back of the front- running Bandits.

    This week Grizzlys' pride will invade the Father Bauer Arena on Tue. Oct. 18 to tangle with the Calgary Royals and will host the Okotoks Oilers on Fri. Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m.

     Keep the Grizzlys' character alive by cheering them on at the next home game.


Grizzlys drill Oilers in home opener

By Barry Williams
September 19
, 2005

 

     If goals were set at the price of oil, the Olds Grizzlys would be financially stable.

     In their home opener against the AJHL's newest team, the Okotoks Oilers, the Grizzlys went drilling and struck it rich by denting the twine eight times defeating the Oilers 8-1 before a crowd of 1,000 noisy fans gathered at the Olds Sportsplex on Friday, Sept. 16.

     Although the Oilers are playing their first year in the AJHL they have eight players with previous junior hockey experience either with the AJHL or Western Hockey League.

     Grizzlys' Head Coach, Kevin Hasselberg, indicated the Grizzlys failed to take the Oilers as an underdog team and as a result played a near perfect game.

    "We knew they (Oilers) were a good team and at no point were our players over confident," Hasselberg said, noting the Grizzlys stuck to their game plan throughout the entire contest.

    With the boisterous crowd cheering loudly throughout the encounter, the Grizzlys were energized and gave them what they were looking for, goals, goals and more goals.

    Early in the first period, the Grizzlys hit their first gusher as Brendan Hull dented the twine. Shortly after, Michael LeClair deposited his first of two goals, one on the powerplay,  Jody Pederson added a late power play marker to give the Grizzlys a 4-0 first period lead.

    In the second period, the Grizzlys netted a pair of goals off the sticks of Dustin Moore and Jordan Baker giving the Grizzlys a commanding 6-0 lead after two stanzas of play.

    Baker netted his second marker just a minute into the third period and Kyle Dorowicz finished the  onslaught of goals with a marker late in the game.

    Andrew Owsiak spoiled Cole Anderson's bid for a shutout with a goal mid-way through the third period.

    Anderson finished the game with 26 saves while the netminding tandem of Trevor Peters and Trevor Kalemba blocked 40 shots directed at the Oilers net.

    Oilers' Head Coach, Gary VanHereweghe, said there was no excuse for his team's poor showing in the game.

   "This loss has nothing to do with the fact we are a younger team or this is our first year in the league," VanHereweghe said.

   "The truth is we were not prepared to play when the first puck was dropped and as a result  it was a very embarrasing game for us,"  VanHereweghe added.

   According to VanHereweghe, the Oilers failed to win the battles along the boards and the loose pucks and because of this they ran into penalty problems.

    "I guess we can be thankful it was only 8-1, it could have been worse," VanHereghe noted.

    "But we lost to a very good team," he said.

    "There is no doubt in my mind, the Grizzlys could challenge for the league championship this year," VanHereghe concluded.

    VanHereweghe is no stranger to hockey fans in this area as he has been a former Head Coach/GM and an assistant Coach for the Grizzlys.

    Meanwhile, Hasselberg is somewhat satisfied with the effort put forth by the Grizzlys in the two games played last week.

     In their league opener against the Drumheller Dragons in Drumheller on Wednesday, Sept. 14 the Grizzlys lost 4-3 in double overtime.

     After skating to a 3-3 deadlock in regulation time, the Dragons and Grizzlys played one five minute sudden death four on four overtime period.  Since no one decided the score in the first extra session, the teams proceeded with a three-on-three overtime period. At 2:24 into the second overtime, Dion Knelson beat Anderson to give the Dragons the victory. Knelson notched a powerplay goal in the third period to send the game into overtime.

     Dustin Moore bent the twine twice to pace the Grizzlys' scoring. Chipping in with a singleton was Jordan Baker.

     Other Dragons to blink the red light were Joel Chisholm and Braden Knelson.

     "Although we're only two games into the season, I am seeing some positive aspects about our play," Hasselberg said.

    Probably the most important thing Hasselberg has noticed has been off the ice inside the dressing room.

    "All the players have become very good friends and the comradery between them is fantastic," Hasselberg said.

    "They are more than willing to support each other on and off the ice," Hasselberg added.

    Hasselberg indicated all the practices have been upbeat, full of energy and quite intense.

    "We are trying to carry this energy and intensity into the games and play with a bit of edge," Hasselberg said.

    "For the most part, the positive attitude expressed by the players has been a factor in our past two games," Hasselberg added.

    "They truly believe they can beat any team within the league," Hasselberg added, noting it is an attitude of confidence rather than being cocky.

    Since the majority of the players played with the Grizzlys or within the league last year, Hasselberg indicated they are familiar with each other and their play is further ahead at this point compared to last season.

    "We've already won a game, in fact we haven't lost a game and this is certainly good for the players' confidence," Hasselberg concluded.

    This week the Grizzlys entertain the Camrose Kodiaks on Tuesday,  Sept. 20 and journey north to tangle with Fort McMurray, Lloydminster and Bonnyville on the weekend.


Players receiving coach's message

By Barry Williams
September 6
, 2005

 

     When the Olds Grizzlys embarked on their current exhibition schedule, Head Coach, Kevin Hasselberg challenged the players to  push themselves to the limit in order to become better hockey players.

     And for the most part the players have taken this message to heart and Hasselberg is pleased with the work effort put forth by the players during the exhibition games, especially the first year players.

     "Although I didn't think tonight's work ethic was as good as previous games overall I have to be satisfied," Hasselberg said after the Grizzlys defeated the Brooks Bandits 5-1 before 432 fans at the Olds Sportscomplex on Thursday, Sept.1.

     With seventeen veteran players in camp, a limited number of positions are expected to be filled for this year's squad but Hasselberg has made it clear all spots are open and the competition has been fierce from day one of training camp.

     "This season the coaching staff has every intention of rolling all four forward lines and six defensemen," Hasselberg said.

     "Every player in the line-up has to be prepared to play and I expect no less than a hundred percent from them on every shift," Hasselberg added.

     "If a player isn't prepared to play, he won't be here very long," Hasselberg added.

     And as the commencement of the 2005/2006 AJHL regular season approaches, Hasselberg realizes he has to make decisions to ensure the best possible players are on the roster. Some of these decisions may not sit well with some players but Grizzly pride is on the line.

     Until last year the Grizzlys had a streak of thirteen consecutive years of qualifying for the playoffs and Hasselberg knows a playoff run this year is essential for the team's pride and bottom line.

     "Making the playoffs just won't due, we need to challenge for the league championship," Hasselberg indicated.

    According to Hasselberg, this message has been instilled into the players from the opening day of training camp and they are starting to believe in themselves and the system the coaching staff is implementing.

    Since the opening of training camp, Hasselberg has noticed a steady improvement in the players' attitude, dedication and commitment.

    Rebuilding is something a junior hockey club has to face every three years and Hasselberg insists the Grizzlys are going through a transition rather than rebuilding this season.

    Like every junior hockey coach, Hasselberg would like to see a three year tenure with the current players but he also realizes most players want to further their careers by playing major junior  or college hockey.

    Because the AJHL supports the mandate of developing players, Hasselberg is content with the situation and is more than willing to assist a player in obtaining a hockey scholarship.

    "If a player receives a scholarship, I have to respect his decision to play college hockey even when he has another year of junior left to play," Hasselberg noted.

    As players move on to bigger and better things in life, their vacancies have to be filled and although the Grizzlys have very few voids to deal with this season, Hasselberg is impressed with the rookie players in camp.

    The rookies in camp this year are pushing the veterans for their positions and it is possible an unknown rookie could bump a seasoned player from the roster.

     Hasselberg has commended  the recruiting efforts of the team scouts acknowledging the crop of first year players at camp this year is outstanding.

     With the exhibition season now complete, the Grizzlys are prepared to enter their 25th AJHL season with confidence. They begin play on the road in Drumheller on Sept. 14. Their home opener is scheduled on Sept. 16 against the expansion Okotoks Oilers.

    


Desmet will bring leadership and scoring to the Grizzlys

By Barry Williams
August 29, 2005

      For two years, Braden Desmet was the leading scorer and served as the captain for theDrumheller Dragons.

     Now Olds Grizzlys Head Coach/GM Kevin Hasselberg believes the attributes which made Desmet the Most Valuable Player for the Dragons last year will be applied as an Olds Grizzlys.

     Desmet is the latest acquisition to the Grizzlys and he could be the missing link to propel the Grizzlys back into the AJHL playoffs.

     Desmet was inserted into the line-up in the Grizzlys latest exhibition game against the Drayton Valley Thunder and although he failed to dent the twine Hasselberg feels he will have the faithful Grizzlys' fans sitting at the end of their seats during the upcoming AJHL season.

     "Once he (Desmet) is familiar with our players and system he will bring some excitement into most of our games," Hasselberg said, noting fans won't be sitting on their hands when the three year AJHL veteran is on the ice.

     "He is a proven scorer in the league and he has excellent leadership capabilities," said Hasselberg.

     According to Hasselberg, the Grizzlys have been shopping around the league for an offensive minded veteran and Desmet has all the attributes in bringing forward Grizzly pride.

     "I am excited in having him as a Grizzly and I am positive he will become a fan favorite," Hasselberg added.

    And with the likes of another three year veteran, Jody Pederson providing a calming influence on the rookie players, the Grizzlys are certain to have excellent leadership on and off the ice.

   Pederson, an AJHL all-star, played two seasons with the Camrose Kodiaks before being dealt to the Grizzlys last year.

    When the Grizzlys open their 2005/2006 AJHL season on Sept. 14 against the Drumheller Dragons in Drumheller Hasselberg feels the Grizzlys will be a stronger team than the one iced last year.

    "Last year we missed the playoffs and if you speak to any of the returning veterans this year their ultimate goal is to make the playoffs," added Hasselberg.

    In some ways the Grizzlys deserved a better fate last year but the veteran players remaining on the Grizzlys roster so far are already putting last year's woes behind them and are concentrating on re-establishing Grizzly Pride not only for this year but years to come.

    Even with fifteen players returning from last year's squad, the Grizzlys will still be one of the youngest teams in the league as most teams are skating with nineteen and twenty year old players.

    And as the Grizzlys' exhibition season starts to wind down, the Grizzlys' bench boss still hasn't made up his mind as to how many veteran players will don the Grizzlys' uniform.

    "Our veteran players realize their position on the team is not automatically guaranteed and it is up to the rookie players to push the older players for their position.

    Hasselberg indicated all positions on the club are still open and it is up to the veteran players to know the rookie players still in camp have an equal opportunity in making the team.

    "It is up to the veteran players to work extremely hard for their positions and  the rookie  players to make sure they are pushing the  veterans for their position within the team,"  concluded Hasselberg.

     This week the Grizzlys continue their exhibition play with a home encounter against the Brooks Bandits on Sept. 1 at the Olds Sportsplex.


Jay Rosehill signs with Tampa Bay Lightning

By Barry Williams
August 29, 2005
 

     A former blue liner of the Olds Grizzlys, Jay Rosehill has signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League.

   Rosehill came to terms with the Lightning last week and terms of the agreement were not released by press time.

   A native of Olds, Rosehill started his minor hockey career with the Olds Minor Hockey Association and finished it with the Red Deer Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs where he controlled the blue line for two years. He was a member of the Chiefs when they challenged for the Air Canada Cup, emblematic of Midget AAA supremely in Canada.

    Every so often a "diamond in the rough" is often drafted by a National Hockey League team in the third and fourth rounds of the draft and Olds Grizzlys Head Coach/GM, Kevin Hasselberg believes Rosehill is such a player.

    "I truly believe the Lightning don't realize what kind of hockey player they got when they drafted Jay," said Hasselberg.

    "He (Rosehill) is the type of player who gives you a hundred percent on every shift," said Hasselberg.

    "Besides being a good hockey player Rosehill is a true ambassador for the sport and he speaks passionately about the game he loves," Hasselberg added.

    When Rosehill was a member of the Grizzlys, Hasselberg noted the tall lanky blueliner was always involved with the community helping with minor hockey when ever he could and assisting in the Grizzlys Help A Reader program they have in conjunction with Olds Elementary School.

    "When ever the community needed assistance from the Grizzlys, Jay was always the first player to volunteer," Hasselberg.

    In reacting to Rosehill's NHL signing, Hasselberg noted it was a feather in the cap for both the Grizzlys and Olds Minor Hockey.

   "He is a prime example of a small town hockey player making an impression while playing Junior A hockey in his home town."

   "I am certain Jay could have played Major Junior Hockey but he chose to stay at home and he was committed to the Grizzlys' organization of which the Grizzlys are truly thankful," Hasselberg added.

   While a member of the Grizzlys, Rosehill was one of the most popular players to don the black and gold uniform and to many minor hockey players in Olds he quickly became an icon.

   After a home game, Jay often spent time talking to the kids and this was one of the attributes  which propelled him into being noticed by the NHL hockey scouts

    According to Hasselberg, Rosehill was the type of player who demanded more of himself with each and every shift on the ice and his work ethic never changed. Whether playing in a game or practicing he always challenged himself to become a better hockey player.

   It was Rosehill's work ethic, dedication and desire which propelled him from the ice of the Olds Sportsplex to the larger surfaces of professional hockey and according to Hasselberg it will be these attributes which will keep him in professional hockey for years to come.

   Rosehill is the third Grizzlys' player to have the opportunity to play professional hockey. Phil Crowe and Kevin Haller, all former Grizzlys are the most recent graduates to put their stamp on professional hockey.

   "If he plays with the same passion for the game he had while a member of the Grizzlys, I think he will surprise a few people and have an outstanding career in professional hockey," Hasselberg concluded.

    With Rosehill's embarking on a professional hockey career, more and more minor hockey players will have their own dreams and thanks to the talents of Jay Rosehill the desire of playing professional hockey can become a reality for all big dreamers in Olds.


VanHereweghe returns to coaching

By Barry Williams
August 8, 2005
 

    Former Olds Grizzlys Head Coach, Garry VanHereweghe, of Carstairs, has returned to coaching in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

      VanHereweghe has come to terms with the newest member of the AJHL, the Okotoks Oilers, and will be behind the bench when the Oilers enter play in the 2005/2006 AJHL season.

     In making the announcement Oilers Club President, Wayne Lauinger said, "Having VanHereweghe take over as Head coach brings a wealth of experience and credibility to the Okotoks Oilers organization."

     When the Oilers were awarded an AJHL franchise in 2004, they immediately named Van Hereweghe as Director of Hockey Operations/General Manager.

     To facilitate VanHereweghe's move to behind the bench, the Oilers have appointed Dave Kelly as Assistant General Manager. With many years of experience within the league, Lauinger believes Kelly gives the Oilers a strong management team in place capable of guiding the team into their inaugural year of participating in the AJHL.

     "Kelly is a highly organized individual with years of experience within the league and his new duties will be familiar to him," Lauinger said.

     As well, Jamie Sheer and Trevor McFarlane will remain in their previously announced positions of Assistant Coaches with the Oilers.

    VanHereweghe has a very successful AJHL coaching resume. He was an Assistant Coach with the Grizzlys when they won the Centennial Cup, emblematic of Junior A hockey supremecy in Canada . After leaving the Grizzlys, VanHereweghe became Head Coach of the Camrose Kodiaks and piloted them to junior hockey supremacy by winning the 2001 Royal Bank Cup, which replaced the Centennial Cup when the Royal Bank became a sponsor of Canadian Junior A hockey. In the same year, VanHereweghe was named the AJHL Coach of the Year.

    Besides being involved with the Grizzlys, VanHereweghe was instrumental in bringing an AA minor hockey program to the Carstairs Minor Hockey Association. While coaching the Carstairs Pee Wee AA Bruins he won a provincial champion and  the South Central Pee Wee AA league championship.

    A retired Calgary Police Officer, VanHereweghe has been recognized with a community service award from the Calgary Police.

    In an earlier interview with the Olds Albertan, VanHereweghe indicated working with a brand new Junior A hockey team has unique challenges and he was excited about guiding the Oilers into their Junior A hockey experience.

    And junior hockey fans can welcome VanHereweghe back to the confines of the Olds Sportsplex on Sept. 16 when the Olds Grizzlys open up their 2005/2006 AJHL home schedule against the Oilers.


Grizzlys moving forward

By Barry Williams
June 13, 2005
 

       After a year of restructuring and financial restraint, the Olds Sportsmen's Recreational Association is content on moving the Olds Grizzlys forward towards being a viable franchise in the Alberta Junior A Hockey League.

     And judging from the response at the association's annual general meeting held on Thursday June 9, 2005, board members, volunteers and die-hard hockey fans are willing to work together to bring back the glory days of the 1990's when the Grizzlys were the envy of the AJHL on and off the ice.

     "We've proven to the league the Grizzlys are a viable franchise and the team is here to stay," said Grizzlys' president, Dave Belsher.

     "The Grizzlys are a valuable member to the community and we must move forward to make sure the team remains in Olds for years to come," Belsher said.

     Last year, the Grizzlys were facing a financial crisis and a uncertain future but through the support of the business community, the Town of Olds and many individuals the Board of Directors were able to raise enough funds to keep the team operational.

     Although the Grizzlys failed to make the playoffs in the 2004/2005 AJHL season, the bottom line of the financial report noted a modest surplus of $17,000. This surplus could have presented a more rosier picture if the Grizzlys would have qualified for the playoffs. In the past, the Grizzlys' financial situation benefited from playoff revenue.

     "We probably have the most dedicated fans and volunteers within the entire league," said Belsher.

     "Everyone from the coaches, players, fans, volunteers and business community has to be thanked for making it possible for the Grizzlys to remain in Olds," Belsher added.

     Like all the other Board of Directors, Belsher is a die-hard hockey fan and he didn't want to see the Grizzlys leave town.

      "I know what a Junior hockey club means to a town like Olds and it is for this reason I got involved in fund raising last year," Belsher said.

      Besides being a contributing member of the business community, the Grizzlys are an inspiration for the hundreds of players registered with Olds Minor Hockey.

      "I would say the majority of the minor hockey players in Olds dreams about playing for the Olds Grizzlys at some time," Belsher said.

     According to Belsher, providing an opportunity for local and area graduating Midget players to play  Junior hockey at or close to home is a main focus of the Grizzlys.

     In the past, the Grizzlys have always maintained a local focus on their roster as several players have made the transition from Midget AAA,  or Midget AA teams from Olds, Innisfail,  Didsbury,Carstairs, Sundre, Three Hills, Red Deer, Airdrie and Calgary

     With the reassurance the Grizzlys will remain in Olds, the executive committee is now working on different fundraising ideas. One such project proposed by Belsher is having a house lottery.

     Other teams in the league have had major lottery fund raisers and have been quite successful Belsher noted.

     "If we do have a house lottery, the funds can be used towards administration and buying players to keep us competitive," Belsher said.

     Last year, the Grizzlys entered into an agreement with the Edge School of Hockey Excellence. Besides providing the Grizzlys with funds, the Edge School carded up to four affiliated players with the Grizzlys. A discussion centered around the involvement with the Edge School and there was a general agreement amongst the members to honor the two year contract, even though some people felt the Edge School was not sending their best players to the Grizzlys.

     In his report, Head Coach, Kevin Hasselberg, indicated at least sixteen returning players have indicated they will be attending Fall Camp.

   With a good crop of returning forwards, the Grizzlys will have some explosive offensive threats. On the blue line, the Grizzlys are searching for some offensive minded defensemen. Between the pipes, Cole Anderson has moved on to college hockey in the States. Tyson Sexsmith has accepted an offer from the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.

    "If Sexsmith stays with the Giants  we will be looking at a couple of new goalies," Hasselberg said.

    Elected to the executive for the upcoming season were, Dale Belsher, Rob McKenzie, Caroline Bodmer, Brent Beaudoin, Doug Bell, Wanda Blatz, Mark Baron, Norma Dickaua, Garrett Funkhouser, Kevin Rowland, Bruce Stuart, Brent Taylor and Hugh Bodmer.


AJHL finalizes 2005-2006 league schedule

By Barry Williams
June 6, 2005
 

        After a lengthy scheduling meeting, the Alberta Junior Hockey League has finalized it's 2005-2006 league schedule and it appears the Olds Grizzlys have lucked out.

       "I am very satisfied with this year's schedule, it has met all our requirements," said Olds Grizzlys' Head Coach, Kevin Hasselberg.

       "It is a very good schedule, one we can definitely work with," Hasselberg said.

       With the addition of the Okotoks Oilers into the league this year, the AJHL will play with a balanced schedule, thirty home games and thirty away games for all teams.

       And from all indications, the Oilers, who replaced the Crowsnest Pass Timberwolves, will ice a competitive team and Hasselberg is anxious to meet the Oilers in head to head battles. Although the Oilers are a new entry this season, their on ice staff members are no strangers to the AJHL.

      Carstairs resident Gary VanHereweghe, is the Oilers' Director of Hockey Operations and he is very well adversed with the AJHL having previously coached  the Grizzlys and the Camrose Kodiaks. While with the Grizzlys, Van Hereweghe was an Assistant Coach when the Grizzlys won the Centennial Cup ten years ago. He has also served as Head Coach/General Manager with the local bears hockey club. After leaving the Grizzlys, VanHereweghe accepted a position as Head Coach with the Camrose Kodiaks.  Four years ago he was behind theKodiaks'  bench when they won their first Royal Bank Cup. And during this time, VanHereweghe was also named as the AJHL Coach of the Year.

     "Because the Oilers have an experienced coaching staff, I expect them to be very competitive," Hasselberg added, indicating he would like to see a rivalry develop between the Grizzlys and Oilers.

     "Because of the way the schedule is drawn up this year, I believe the traditional rivalries will be rekindled and some new ones will be started," Hasselberg said.

     Because the Grizzlys failed to make the playoffs last season, Hasselberg feels the returning players have something to prove to themselves and to the fans.

     "Every player was disappointed with the team's performance last year and they are committed towards making the Grizzlys a contender for the league championship this year," Hasselberg added.

     Last season, the Grizzlys were laden with a crop of rookie players and the experience these players went through will no doubt make them better players in the upcoming season.

     "There is an old saying a team has to know how to lose before they can learn how to win and this was the case for the Grizzlys last year," Hasselberg said, noting the Grizzlys played in more overtime games than any other team in the league.

     According to Hasselberg, the veteran players are already working towards making amends to last year's disappointing season.

     "All the players I have spoken to are committed to an off ice conditioning program and when they report to Fall Camp on Aug. 19, they will have a positive outlook to a new season," Hasselberg added.

      According to Hasselberg, the veteran players will be challenged for their jobs at Fall Camp as the Grizzlys' coaching staff and scouts have identified some very talented players graduating from the Midget AAA ranks. It is expected several graduating players from the Red Deer MidgetAAA Optimist Chiefs and the Rockyview Midget AAA Lightning will be vying for a spot on the Grizzlys' roster this year.

     On June 7, at the Olds Sportsplex, the Grizzlys will be making a transition from hockey to lacrosse as they have scheduled a charity lacrosse game against the Olds Junior Stingers lacrosse team.

     All proceeds from the game will be turned over to the Mountain View Food Bank and both teams involved in this game are encouraging fans to bring a donation to the food bank.


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