With the playoffs on the horizon, the Sherwood Park Crusaders still aren’t sure who their playoff foes will be.
According to head coach Tim Fragle, there is still a lot of hockey to play, especially by other teams.
“There are some games this week that are going to decide who we are matching up against,” Fragle said. “Right now, it looks like Grande Prairie (34-20-4). If it is Grande Prairie, we would love to take care of them and put a little bit of doubt in their mind and show that we are going to be a tough match-up for them.“
With the Northern Division of the Alberta Junior Hockey League being so close, a win here or a loss there by any of the top six teams can shift the fate of the seventh seeded Cru. With that said, Fragle knows that no matter who they play, the Cru have to be ready.
“You want to go into the playoffs playing well, regardless of who you are going to play,” he said. “So, we’ll do our best to put two good efforts in on the back-to-back nights.”
Those back-to-back nights — Friday, March 1 against the Grande Prairie Storm and then Saturday, March 2 against the Whitecourt Wolverines (30-20-8) — aren’t throw away games. The Cru still have something to prove against their possible first round match up, Grande Prairie. If not to boost their confidence with a win, then to feel them out to see how they play.
“In Grande Prairie’s situation, I think they over-achieved this year, but at the same time they play a really tight defensive game and that has been the M.O. all year,” Fragle said. “Then you look at (another play off possibility ) Bonnyville Pontiacs (32-19-9), who are the hardest working team in the league. They work hard and play hard all the time. Each team has a few traits that you kind of know what you are going to be up against.”
The Cru hope to head into the playoffs healthy with one of their top snipers, Andrew Taverner, returning from the hurt locker. The Cru won’t rush him though, as they don want to risk aggravating the injury.