Cru Go From Best In North, To Best In South

Sherwood Park Crusaders (21-7-2) VS Camrose Kodiaks (17-7-3) December 2nd, 2015 – 7:00 PM

Media: AJHL Web TV

It was a November to remember for the Sherwood Park Crusaders, going 9-1-2 and suffering their first regulation time loss since October 14th in the final game of the month last Saturday against the Spruce Grove Saints, 3-2.

It was the most prolific stretch of games the franchise has seen in at least a decade, as the club earned points in 17 straight games.

“Our team really meshed and it seems we’ve had everything go right for us, it was a pretty good run and we’ve been playing some really good hockey all around.”  Says Crusaders Forward Ryan Kruper.

Sherwood Park has been able to keep pace in the Viterra North Division with it’s run, and are still within striking distance of the first place Spruce Grove Saints.  The Crusaders with 44 Points, heading into Wednesday, trail the first place Saints by nine Points with one game in hand, and are two Points behind Lloydminster for second place in the division.

Wednesday night, the focus will shift to one of the best teams in the Viterra South Division as the Camrose Kodiaks make their first and only visit to the Sherwood Park Arena this season.  The Kodiaks sit in second place with 37 Points and trail the Brooks Bandits for first by only three Points.  The Kodiaks are 6-4 in their last 10 and have lost two games in a row, but the Crusaders leading scorer knows his team cannot take them lightly.

“They had a strong team last year, so far this year they’ve had a strong team in the south.  I expect a big, tough battle of a game.  They’ve always been a good team and it’s always a good battle against them, it will be a grind of a game as it is always and hopedully we come out on top.”  Noted Kruper.

The Sherwood Park veteran is having quite the campaign in his final season in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.  For most of the year Kruper has been playing with Tyler Maltby and Cameron Brezinski, it’s no secret that Ryan is leading his team in Points with 38 and 23 Assists, but he seems to be doing it in the shadow of Maltby, which is ok with him.

“I’m not worried about it too much, we’re both playing really strong, he’s getting the goals I’m getting the assists.  It’s not a big deal either way as long as both of us are contributing and the team is have success.” 

Those two and others will need to contribute Wednesday night as the Crusaders look to return to the win column as they face the Kodiaks, Kruper is riding a six game point streak.

The Crusaders will have their work cut out for them and should look to avoid penalty trouble as the Kodiaks have the first ranked Power Play in the AJHL at 26.8% and second best on the road at 27.8% scoring 18 goals which is third best in the league.  Sherwood Park’s kill is not statistically at the top of the league, but the Crusaders do have the most Short Handed Goals with six.

The Crusaders could have a new face in their lineup on Wednesday night, as newly acquired Forward Danton Davis should make is Crusader debut against his former team.  Davis spent 2014-15 with the Kodiaks and started the 2015-16 season with the Okotoks Oilers.  Davis has played 73 Games scoring 12 Goals and adding 23 Assists with 147 Penalties in minutes.

Sherwood Park also have dealt Forwards Tanner Laderoute and Devan Reed to the Okotoks Oilers and Grande Prairie Storm respectively in return for Future Considerations.

The three transactions were in part of the leagues December 1st Roster Cut Down day as AJHL teams were required to trim their roster to 25 bodies, 23 of them skaters.

Players to watch:  For the Crusaders, as mentioned, Ryan Kruper is riding a six game Point streak, with eight in that span, and eclipsed the 100 Point career total on Saturday.  Defenseman Ben Sowa had himself a decent weekend picking up three Points including a Goal in Saturday’s loss.  For the Kodiaks, they are led offensively by veteran Forward Nelson Gadoury as he leads the Kodiaks with 36 Points, 12 Goals and 24 Assists.  Forward Cole McBride leads the team in Goals with 15 and has 31 Points on the season.

-Story By Taylor Medak