The Sherwood Park Crusaders have dropped to sixth place in the eight-team North Division of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and are now making moves to try and climb back up the ladder.
The Crusaders (12-11-2) are close to playing .500 hockey following two consecutive losses to the South Division’s last-place Drumheller Dragons (8-12-1) on Sunday, losing 4-1, and the North’s last-place Lloydminster Bobcats (6-15-4) on Wednesday, falling 2-1.
In trying to change what happens on the ice, Crusader head coach and general manager Tim Fragle is opting to change who’s on the bench, starting with a trade.
Two-year Crusader forward Dayton Reinboldt has been let go from the Cru, as they instead picked up Ryan Luiten, 20, who was playing for the Dauphin Kings in Manitoba.
Luiten spent last season with the South Division’s Brooks Bandits, who won the AJHL championship, picking up 50 points in 60 games (23 goals and 27 assists).
“We felt that, unfortunately, Dayton hadn’t played up to his capabilities this year,” Fragle said.
“He had three goals in 22 games and he’s supposed to be a goal scorer for us. He struggled and unfortunately trades are a part of the business, so we had to give up something. Dayton is a good player who played for us for a couple of years. We really enjoyed having him and he didn’t leave Sherwood Park at all with hard feelings. He looked at it as an opportunity to get his game going with some movement.”
This isn’t the first time Fragle has tried to wrangle in the former Bandit.
“Ryan was a guy we targeted last year, but the price was too high last year when he was available in the summer time from Brooks, so we backed off,” he said. “But the timing was great this season and he had a good start to the season out in Dauphin.”
Fragle continued: “He’s a centerman, so I’m hoping he’s going to come in and have chemistry with some of our top guys — players like Danny Smith and Bowen Croft — those guys, and maybe we can get them going.”
Also recently joining the Crusaders is a more familiar face to Sherwood Park in defenceman JC Heck.
Heck was traded at the end of last season, but Fragle decided re-acquiring him was the right move for this season.