SHERWOOD PARK, AB – The Sherwood Park Crusaders are hoping that a return to divisional play will be the recipe for getting back in the win column after they had their three-game winning streak snapped on Saturday by a score of 8-3 at the hands of the Calgary Canucks.
“We thought we were braindead.” Adamantly stating Crusaders Head Coach Adam Manah.
“A lot of simple errors, the details of the game were the biggest thing. We could tell right away that we didn’t have it that night, even with a 3-1 lead, we knew it was going to comeback and get us because we were giving up too much.” Added the Coach.
The previous night, the Crusaders played a much better game as they picked up a 3-2 victory in Canmore over the Eagles.
The group played well as a unit and got timely scoring when it mattered most.
“I thought we played a fairly balanced game in Canmore, our best period was the third. We put 20 shots on goal and really forced their hand. We found a way to win that hockey game, where at the beginning of the year that might have not gone our way. The two points were big for us on Friday.” Noted Manah.
“They are a tough team to play against, especially in their rink. It was good to get the win, a great winning goal by Ryan Cox. It felt good to come out of there with two points.” Said Crusaders Forward Ty Readman, who had an assist in the 3-2 game.
The game winner, from Ryan Cox came with 46 seconds remaining in regulation. It was the second time in the game the Crusaders had scored in the final minute of a period as Forward Arjun Atwal tied the game at two with a short-handed goal near the end of the second.
“It was nice. We needed that short-handed goal from Atwal. It was critical that we headed into the dressing room tied at two rather than down a goal. Especially the way their goalie played in the third period, it really took everything to beat him. It was good to get rewarded and hopefully the trend continues.” Manah added.
Unfortunately, as the coach stated, the Crusaders were unable to carry the success over into Saturday against the Calgary Canucks.
The players also agree with that sentiment.
“We lose 8-3, seven unanswered goals, basically we weren’t doing anything well. They outworked us, outskated us, everything went wrong so we are just going to forget about that one and move on to the next game.” Says Readman.
The next game, is in Lloydminster. On a Wednesday afternoon.
An unorthodox time will have the Bobcats and Crusaders clash for a Hockey Hooky initiative, much like the Crusaders did earlier in the year against Camrose at the Sherwood Park Arena.
“It should be interesting, it should be exciting. We expect lots of students out for that game, the bobcats will be fired up, we need to be ready to go, it’s a big two points on the line.” Points out Manah.
Lloydminster is coming off its second straight loss as they dropped both their games last weekend to Whitecourt and Grande Prairie.
There is no place like home for the Bobcats as 14 of their 16 wins in 2017-18 have been captured at the Centennial Civic Centre.
The Crusaders have managed to pick up a victory at the CCC this year, a 5-4 shootout victory back on November 5th.
“It’s a difficult rink to go to, they come out hard. They are a physical team when they play on home ice. We will need to match their energy and compete.” Says Manah.
For the Crusader players, Wednesday is an immediate chance to put the last game even further behind them and get back in the thick of things when it comes to their battle with Grande Prairie for the final home ice advantage spot in the division.
“We can’t let them in the game, we have to come out and dominate from the start. They have good goaltending, so we’ll need to try and get a couple early goals and keep the foot on the gas.” Notes Readman.
Lloydminster was able to bolster their goaltending at the January 10th deadline as they acquired the rights to Sherwood Park native Bailey Brkin. Since spending time with the Calgary Mustangs last year, Brkin had spent all of 2017-18 in the Western Hockey League with the Kootenay Ice and Spokane Chiefs.
A win Wednesday will clinch the season series over the Bobcats, even though the Crusaders are 3-0-0 against Lloydminster, and move them within a point fourth place Grande Prairie in the Viterra North division with 16 games remaining.
-Story by Taylor Medak
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