The Drumheller Dragons are preparing for a busy weekend as the 2016-17 Alberta Junior Hockey League regular season winds down.
The Dragons have just six games left to play, including a home and home series with the Canmore Eagles starting this evening (Feb. 17) in Drumheller, and once again, they are decimated by injuries.
"We haven't had a full lineup since I took over (and) I only have 15 players; they're giving it their all and they're tired," noted head coach Darryl Olsen. "I would love a full lineup but that's not going to happen, so all I can ask is these kids just work hard and whatever happens, happens."
The Dragons have dropped their last three games, including a disastrous home and home series with Brooks that saw the Bandits win by a combined score of 17-1, but Olsen is taking it all in stride.
"We are the youngest team in the league (and) we're running up against Canmore, the Calgary Canucks and Brooks and the majority of their team is filled with 19 and 20 year olds and I'm filled with 17 and 18 year olds, so it's a learning curve, not only for me but for these kids."
While it's tough on the uninjured Dragons, Olsen knows they're getting a lot of extra ice time and he thinks that will help his club in the long run.
"I try to keep it light because they are working," he told 99.5 Drum FM. "If they weren't working and we were losing it would probably be a different atmosphere, but they're giving me everything they have and like I told them, as long as you're working I don't really care about the outcome."
That said, the coach is hoping to have three injured Dragons back in time for playoffs.
In the meantime, they host the Eagles tonight at the Memorial Arena. The puck drops at 7:30. It's also Dudley the Dragon's 14th birthday and a number of other mascots will be on hand to help him celebrate. The return match is Saturday in Canmore, also at 7:30. Our live broadcast with Jason Blanke will begin at 7:15 p.m. both evenings.