SHERWOOD PARK, AB – Entrenched in a six-game stretch against Viterra South Division opponents the Sherwood Park Crusaders hope they can get back in the win column with a victory on the road Tuesday night in Camrose against the Kodiaks.
The Crusaders are coming off a weekend that saw them split games between the top and bottom teams in the South.
Friday, a hard-fought effort against the last place Olds Grizzlys winning 4-1 and on Sunday, an 8-5 loss against the top team in the AJHL the Okotoks Oilers.
“I thought we played a pretty solid sixty-minute game on Friday against Olds. In that game, it seemed like we had a ton of chances we just couldn't seem to find the back of the net as much as we would've liked. The group stuck with it though, and we were able to break it open late in the contest to finish off the game.” Says Crusaders Head Coach Adam Manah.
It was a close contest on Friday as the Crusaders carried just a 1-0 lead into the final period only to score three more and allow one goal.
On Sunday, the Crusaders hosted the Okotoks Oilers, one of the top team in all of Canada, and were able to skate with them through the first forty minutes.
“We liked our first two periods against Okotoks. We played fast, had a lot of pace to our game, and created a lot of offensive scoring chances. Unfortunately, we didn't quite get the goaltending we needed in that one. Our group battled back to tie it once, and it seemed like we deflated after they scored early in the 3rd period. That led to a period we'd like to forget in regards to how we completely backed off, and essentially just handed them the win.” Added Manah.
Sherwood Park found themselves down 3-1 after the first period and 4-3 after the second.
The Oilers were able to blow things open in the third period as the final period saw a total of six goals between both teams, but four for the Oilers.
Sunday’s game proved once again you have to play sixty minutes, start to finish, in the AJHL.
Tuesday night is the start of a busy week for the Crusaders as they will play four games and embark on a three game, three day road trip later in the week.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to get back to .500 this week with a lot of hockey. Our team has discussed our goals for the trip and how crucial it is to start the road stand right with a big win in Camrose.” Says Crusader Forward Dylan Stewart.
Stewart had a pair of goals in the 8-5 loss to Okotoks.
It’s been quite some time since the Crusaders have faced the Kodiaks, as it was September 21st Sherwood Park hosted Camrose in the first of two meetings this season.
Both teams look a lot different as there was a total of 10 players that played in that game that are no longer with either team.
“We haven’t seen them in a while and we are a very different team from the last time we played them, so I think if we can get on them early and play a full sixty minutes we will have a good chance.” Added Stewart.
Like the Crusaders, the Kodiaks are hungry for a win as they are within striking distance of the Calgary Canucks for the final home ice advantage playoff spot in the South.
“Camrose is going to be a real tough test Tuesday. We have addressed some defensive zone tweaks that will hopefully help us minimize pressure, but for the most part we want to continue to play with a lot of the energy we had over the past two games minus the third period against Okotoks. We will need to play fast, and really challenge their Defensemen off the rush, whether it is attacking them or putting pucks behind them.” Points out Manah.
The Crusaders record stands at 22-22-2 with 46 points, three behind the Grande Prairie Storm for fourth place. Sherwood Park has a game in hand on the Storm and that game will be used Tuesday night in Camrose.
-Story by Taylor Medak
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