For the 2nd straight week the Sherwood Park Crusaders will be playing back to back games on the weekend. And the team will be looking for a little better result than going 1 and 1 last weekend. Last Friday the Crusaders handled the Whitecourt Wolverines, shutting them out 3-0. One could say the game was one of the more dominating efforts all season. The very next night, all be it, a high scoring affair, the Crusaders failed to move up the standings in the North Division.
“We were very disappointed in the 1st period.” Said Crusaders and GM Head Coach Tim Fragle on his team’s 8-6 loss to Bonnyville last Saturday.
Sherwood Park allowed 3 goals in the 1st period and dug themselves a hole they could not get out of losing 8-6.
Last weekend seemed to be a snap shot of the Crusaders entire season. One night with a victory and the next a loss. Fragle is looking for regularity with his team.
“It very much was so, strive for consistency is what our players are hearing a lot of.”
One bright spots last weekend was the Power Play for Sherwood Park. The Crusaders went 6 for 12 and are ranked 9th in the AJHL at 17.4% heading into this weekend’s action.
“We continue to get better on the Power Play as we tweak a few things.” Said Fragle on part of his Special Teams play.
The Crusaders will look to carry the momentum they’ve generated on the Power Play as they host the Grande Prairie Storm Saturday night at the Sherwood Park Arena at 7PM. The Storm lead the season series 2 games to 1 thanks to a sweep of a double dip at home against the Crusaders back on November 8th and 9th. The Crusaders win against the Storm came back on September 11th.
“It’s been a home series, but they are in the race and we expect a tough test.” Said Fragle.
The Storm are led offensively by Stephen Doane with 27 points, Ryan Baskerville with 13 goals and are backstopped by the AJHL’s reigning Goaltender of the year, Nick Kulmanovsky.
With the lack of high numbers, the Crusaders can expect a very good defensive battle which was one of the things Fragle worked on with his team over this past week.
“Our Defensive zone, defending the rush, offensive attack and Special Teams were all things we worked on leading up to this weekend’s action.” Fragle added.
Things won’t get any easier for the Crusaders as Sunday afternoon they will travel up north to Fort McMurray to face the 2nd ranked Oil Barons for the 4th time this season and the first time at the Casman Center. Although the Oil Barons lead the season series 2-1 and the winning team has won by 2 goals in the 3 games, it has been very close between the 2 clubs. It always seems the 2 teams bring out the best in each other and it should be another solid battle on Sunday afternoon at 2:15PM.
The Crusaders could have a new face in the lineup on the weekend as the AJHL and CJHL Trade Deadline is 10PM MST Friday January 10th. Trades can be made with other CJHL leagues up until 6PM MST and the 10PM MST deadline is when AJHL teams can make deals with each other.
Fragle said his club is looking for a Defenseman but the price has to be right and deal has to make sense. Fragle also noted that it would be unlikely to see a deal made with another AJHL team.
Be sure to be following the Sherwood Park Crusaders Twitter feed, @SPCru and as well the Transaction page on the AJHL’s website.