Sherwood Park Crusaders (31-17-2) @ Olds Grizzlys (16-31-2) February 9th, 2016 – 7:00 PM
Media: Grizzlys Radio Network, AJHL Web TV
Tuesday night marks a rare occasion where we see a matchup of the leagues top scorers. Forward Ryan Kruper leads the Sherwood Park Crusaders with 64 Points and leads his team into battle to take on the Olds Grizzlys for the Crusaders only appearance at the Olds Sportsplex this season. On the flipside, it will be the AJHL’s leading scorer Wyatt Noskey and sensational rookie standout Chase Olsen leading the charge for the Grizzlys as the two lead the league in scoring with 66 and 64 Points respectively.
Sherwood Park is coming off an emotional 7-1 win Saturday night, in the back end of a home and home with the Drayton Valley Thunder. The Crusaders had lost the night before 6-3 in Drayton Valley.
“The excitement of the fights gave us the boost we needed to get us out of the funk we had been in the past couple of games and really play the way we can.” Says Kruper.
The “fights” Kruper speaks of is the incident that occurred almost 14 minutes into the second period where Crusader Defenseman delivered at hit on Thunder Defenseman Matt Benko. Benko had to be helped off the ice via a medical team and both teams were sent to the dressing room.
Once Benko was removed safely from the ice, the teams returned to the ice to resume the second period.
At the drop off the puck to the right of Crusader Goaltender Zac Klassen, all five Drayton Valley Thunder players started a line brawl.
In the end, a total of 28 Games in Suspensions were handed out to four Thunder players (five games each), Thunder Coach Mike Mueller received a three game suspension and Crusaders Defenseman Chris McKay was suspended five games for being assessed a blow to the head major.
All suspension fell under the Jr. A Supplment.
The Crusaders were able to pull away once the dust had settled, scoring three times on the Power Play in the third period and five unanswered goals in the final frame as well.
It was a much needed victory as the Crusaders have had their ups and downs of late, even though they are 7-3 in their last 10 Games.
Tonight the focus shifts to an Olds Grizzlys team that has the league’s top two scorers and a convincing victory over the Crusaders this season.
A date at the AJHL Showcase back in October saw a Grizzly team pot three goals in a span of 50 seconds early in the second period and ultimately winning the game 5-2.
Veteran Wyatt Noskey leads the Grizzlys and the AJHL with 66 Points, 24 Goals and 42 Assists, and rookie Chase Olsen has 26 Goals and 38 Assists for 64 Points, good for second on the team and in the league.
“I think it will be kind of cool having all of us in the same game knowing that I’m competing with the two of them for top spot, shutting them down will be key to our game plan tonight.” Says Kruper on facing Olds.
Another dynamic that will be hard to handle for the Grizzlys is that the Crusaders also have the league’s leading goal scorer and current CanAlta Hotels AJHL Player Of The Week, Forward Tyler Maltby in their lineup as well.
The Grizzlys have struggled of late going 2-8-0 and falling to seventh place in the Viterra South Division with 34 Points.
With a win the Crusaders can set themselves up nicely as they can get within six Points of the Bonnyville Pontiacs of fourth place in the Viterra North Division with a win Tuesday night. That could set things up for an interesting weekend as Sherwood Park takes on the Pontiacs in a home and home starting Friday in Bonnyville.
Home Ice for the first round of the playoffs is still in reach for Sherwood Park.
Players to watch: For the Crusaders…the matchup of three of the league’s top scorers is very interesting as Forward Ryan Kruper is tied for second with 64 Points, can Forward Tyler Maltby build off his Player Of The Week honor, he had five Points last week. Even though he was suspended for the games against Drayton Valley Forward Devon McAndrews has a four game point streak and seven Points in his last six games…For the Grizzlys, Wyatt Noskey is first league scoring with 66 Points and has seven Points in his last six games, Forward Chase Olsen, who will win the rookie of the year most likely, has 64 Points which is second in league scoring.
-Story By Taylor Medak