If was a case of you win one and lose one, as the Crusaders split two games in their Alberta Junior Hockey League opening playoff series against the Grande Prairie Storm.
The Cru opened the series with a 3-2 win on Tuesday, March 5 in Grande Prairie. They started the game hot, gaining a three-goal lead that allowed Tomkins to do the rest, stopping 40 of 42 shots for the win. Sean MacTavish, Eric Liknes and Danny Smith scored for the Cru.
“I thought the first period we had more jump; we were more involved. Second period we had our ups and downs — I thought the second and third periods were fairly even, but put into perspective, it was a good road game,” Sherwood Park coach Tim Fragle told Sun Media on Tuesday.
“I don’t think we played our best game tonight. We played good early, but they got stronger as the game went on. They will have the momentum going into tomorrow just because they took it to us in the third period.”
The next game Wednesday night, also in Grande Prairie, was a different story. Never being able to get anything going, the Cru were shut out 3-0 by Storm stand-out goal tender Nick Kulmanovsky.
“If we score in that first 10 minutes (of the first period), it’s a different game, but we didn’t, and then they score on the power play and that changed the complexion of the game for sure,” said Fragle after Game 2. “That’s playoff hockey. That first goal is so important. The team that gets that first goal gets so much confidence.”
There were 22 different penalties called in the third period alone, as each team spent a good portion of time in the penalty box. The Cru went 0-5 on the power play as the Storm capitalized on two of its seven chances.
“Personally, I think the reffing could have done a much better job on both sides,” Fragles said. “They missed calls on our side and them too, both ways. They could have put a stop to it and they chose not to and that’s why it escalated. They have to do a better job getting guys out of the game that are trying to do that stuff and they chose not to.”
The Cru peppered Kulmanovsky with 34 shots, but in the end, couldn’t get anything by the AJHL goalie of the year.
“We’re looking forward to getting home, where we have been playing pretty good hockey since Christmas,” Fragle said.
The Crusader’s next playoff game will be at the Sherwood Park Arena on Friday, March 8 at 7 p.m. That game will be followed by Game 4 on Saturday, March 9, also at 7 p.m. If needed, the series will shift back to Grande Prairie on Monday, March 11 for Game 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Healey a winner
On Tuesday March 5, Crusader defenceman Josh Healey was given the W.G. (Bill) Scott Memorial Trophy as the leagues most outstanding defenceman.
Healey has had a heck of a season in his second year as a Crusader.
On top of his Scott Tophy win, he also won a silver medal with Team Canada West at The World Junior A Challenge as well as a commitment to Ohio State University. Healey lead the Cru in scoring by a defencemen with 10 goals, including three game winners and 23 points on the season.