Sherwood Park Crusaders goaltender Matt Tomkins did his best to keep the flu-ravaged Cru close, but the offence came up short in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Drayton Valley Thunder on Tuesday.
“We felt like we took a knife to a gun fight, with seven regulars out of the line-up with the flu,” said Crusaders head coach Tim Fragle.
“We had four affiliates in last night — Midget aged players. We were thin. Bearing everything, we were pretty happy with the way we played, all things considered.”
The Crusaders opened the scoring in the first with a goal from call-up Braeden Farge at 5:11 of the first. Assisting on that goal were Marshall Donald and Evan Polei. Three minutes later, Drayton Valley evened the score 1-1. It stayed that way through the third as well as overtime, with the game having to be decided by a shootout.
“We had a really good first period, and in the second Drayton really took it to us,” Fragle said. “In the third, and even in overtime, we traded chances. It was a pretty even game. Although, in the shootout they came through and we didn’t.
The Cru sealed their own fate with both Dillon Massie and Danny Smith missing on their first two shootout attempts, while the Thunder converted on both of theirs.
“We are happy to get a point on the road,” Fragle said. “Drayton Valley is one of the hotter teams in the division right now. With how we were affected by the flu, it was a positive outcome.”
Tomkins stopped 44 of 45 shots, putting in another stellar performance and garnering the away star of the game award.
The Cru’s next game is against the Kodiaks in Camrose on Friday, Jan. 11. The Kodiaks sit in second in the South Division of the Alberta Junior Hockey League with 49 points, six ahead of the Cru’s 43 in the North.
With a point in the loss to Drayton Valley, the Cru now have points in four of their last five games, with three wins, one shootout loss and one regulation time loss.
The Cru last played the Kodiacs on Sept. 29, and beat them 3-2.