The number nine was both the enemy and the friend of the Athabasca Aces over their two-game weekend road trip.
The Aces split their weekend with a 9-2 win against the expansion Rocky Mountain House Rams on Sunday afternoon and fell 9-4 to the Drayton Valley Wolves on Saturday night.
Troy Tangedal pitched in three goals for the Aces in their afternoon affair against the Rams, with two of those goals coming shorthanded and, even more impressively, on the same shift.
After being bullied by the Wolves, Sunday’s win provided an offensive outburst against a team the Aces need to put up points against in the North Central Hockey League (NCHL) this year.
“A win on the road is a very good thing, so we’re happy to get one at the end of the weekend,” explained Tony Kiselyk, head coach.
Andy Skoreyko kept the hot hand for the Aces with two more goals in Sunday’s affair.
The split puts the Aces with a record of 2-4-1 totaling five points on the season.
Facing second-place Drayton Valley, the Aces were in it for a while, but like their first two games against first-place Onoway it eventually got away.
“We battled hard to the end, but 9-4 speaks for itself,” explained Kiselyk.
The Aces were pressured all game long, resulting in an excess of 50 shots against.
Against the Rams, it was a total turnaround.
“We learned a few things from the night before and we showed ourselves how well we can move the puck,” noted Kiselyk.
The Aces wrapped up their three-game road trip with a record of 1-2, but with lopsided losses against the top tier teams among their NCHL rivals, Kiselyk knows his team must be better if they are going to have any success in contests later on in the season.
“We’re going to have to come up with a plan to play against these guys. They are relentless on the pressure, so we’re going to continue to work hard in practice to deal with it,” he said.
It won’t get any easier though.
They will face Onoway for the third time this season on Friday night. The Aces will look for their first win against the defending champs.
On Sunday afternoon, Athabasca hosts the Legal Vipers, a team they struggled against last year.
Game time is 8:45 p.m. on Friday and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex.