*record as of January 13th, 2017
Allegedly the safest way to navigate a snow storm on the highway is to stay behind a truck or bus, unfortunately for the Sherwood Park Crusaders on Wednesday, they were the bus navigating through a snow storm. Snow and strong winds reeked havoc in Alberta mid week, causing the Crusaders to arrive a little late to the Centennial Civic Centre in Lloydminster for their contest against the Bobcats. Fortunately, the Crusaders arrived unscathed and picked up big 4-1 victory for their tenth win away from the Sherwood Park Arena.
“There were spurts on the highway where the conditions were so poor and zero visibility, plus the whiteout conditions made it a challenging to arrive on time.” Said Crusaders Head Coach Adam Manah.
What usually is an easy drive down Highway 16 East, turned into a much longer than anticipated with Sherwood Park arriving 45 minutes before warmup.
Things didn’t get off the greatest start Wednesday as the Crusaders allowed the game’s opening Goal less than six minutes into the game.
“It was just a backcheck error on us, we didn’t get back in time to pick up the trailer. After that, there was no panic, we stuck too it. We only gave them 5 scoring chances all game, our defensive effort was very good.” Said Manah on his team’s response.
Sherwood Park would get Goals from Alex Rotundo and Tanner Younghans in the final eight minutes of the first Period and never look back.
The Crusaders also saw contributions from Forward Ty Readman and Cam Reagan, who has seven Points in his last five Games.
“Cam’s a player, he prepares well, it’s no surprise on what he is doing. What he does in practice and how he handles himself really shows. He’s been solid defensively and has been the complete defenseman.” Noted Manah on the first year Crusader.
Reagan has nine Points in 12 Games since joining Sherwood Park in December.
Friday night the Crusaders will push for their third Win in a row as they begin their weekend a set against both of AJHL’s Calgary teams, beginning with the Canucks on Friday night.
Next to Fort McMurray, the Calgary Canucks have been the biggest turn around in 2016-17 compared to last year, thanks in large part to former Okotoks Oilers Head Coach James Poole, who is in his first season with the Canucks.
The Canucks are filled with depth at every position.
“They’re going to have solid goaltending, they have 2 pretty good top lines that we’ll have to be real cautious of. Their back end is solid, they are a complete team.” Says Manah on the Canucks.
The Canucks’ best player may be in Goal as 2nd year Netminder Logan Drackett heads into the weekend leading the AJHL with 22 Wins and 4 Shutouts.
The Calgary Native recently represented Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville.
“Drackett gives them a chance to win every night.” Stated Manah.
“It’s going to be no different when you play the any of the top goalies. We have to get pucks to the net and traffic. The common theme with those goalies is that if they see it they will stop it. We got to force him to make more than one save on any given sequence.” Adds Manah.
Friday will also mark the return of former Crusader Brett Van Os, who has had a career year with the Canucks. 39 Points in 40 Games is what the St. Albert Native has been able to amass with Calgary this season. Van Os had 23 Goals and 31 Assists in 115 Games with the Crusaders.
The Crusaders will go for the season sweep against the Canucks as they were able to pick up a 3-2 Victory at the Max Bell Arena back on October the 8th.
Saturday the attention shifts to a team the Crusaders will have seen no longer than six days, as the Calgary Mustangs make their only visit to the Sherwood Park Arena this season.
It was a beat down in “C” town last Sunday as the Crusaders scored seven unanswered Goals to defeat the Mustangs 7-1 at the Father David Bauer Arena.
Five players had multiple Points with Sherwood Park outshooting the Mustangs 56 to 21.
Manah felt it was even less than 21 Shots the Crusaders allowed.
“The common thing in our success has been our defensive game, even in the Okotoks loss. To give up 15 shots against any opponent in this league is good, after they scored first we just woke up and took over. We stuck with it and kept peppering their goaltender.” Said Manah.
The Crusader Coach expects a more desperate effort from the last place team in the Viterra South Division.
“We can’t underestimate, they’ve given teams some games, we can’t take them lightly, we just have to play our game, simply put.”
-Story By Taylor Medak
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