Blackfalds Bulldogs Bonnyville Pontiacs Brooks Bandits Calgary Canucks Camrose Kodiaks Canmore Eagles Drayton Valley Thunder Drumheller Dragons Fort McMurray Oil Barons Grande Prairie Storm Lloydminster Bobcats Okotoks Oilers Olds Grizzlys Sherwood Park Crusaders Spruce Grove Saints Whitecourt Wolverines

Cru Travel Highway 21

Sherwood Park Crusaders (7-10-0) @ Camrose Kodiaks (10-7-1) Friday November 4th, 2016 – 7:00 PM

Media: AJHL WebTV

Sherwood Park Crusaders (7-10-0)* VS Lloydminster Bobcats (2-12-1)* Sunday November 6th, 2016 – 2:30 PM**

Media: Bobcats Radio Network

*record as of November 4th

**Game to be played at Jubilee Recreation Centre, Fort Saskatchewan, AB

The Sherwood Park Crusaders will be logging a few kilometers on a section of a central Alberta highway this weekend for two Games and an opportunity to pick up four Points.

The Crusaders will travel south on Highway 21 Friday and return to the Encana Arena in Camrose for the third time this season, and their first matchup against the hometown Kodiaks.

Sherwood Park was in Camrose earlier this season for the AJHL Showcase going 1-1, with a loss to Okotoks and a victory over Brooks.

At 7-10 the Crusaders hope the month of November can be much better than October, where the team went 5-6 and had to play with a depleted line up at times, especially up front with the Forward group.

“At one point we had two Defenseman play up front because we were so thin with our Forwards.  We’ve been really trying to balance everything and plug away, there’s no excuses and our guys know what they have to do to get back above 500.”  Says Crusaders Head Coach Adam Manah.

Since the start of the year, the likes of Alex Rotundo, Darcy Zaharichuk have missed action, thus not allowing Manah’s group to play with all their ammo in the lineup.

As the Head Coach stated the group is not making excuses and will look to get back in the win column on Friday in Camrose against a Kodiak team that is in the middle of the pact in the Viterra South Division sitting in fifth at 10-7-1 on the year.

“We know [the Kodiaks] work extremely hard, that’s what Boris [Rybalka] teams do.  We had our hands full with them during the exhibition schedule, so we have to come and be ready to go and match that work ethic.”  Said Manah going up against the Kodiaks.

“We have to stress that Defense wins games and to bare down on our scoring chances.”  Added the Crusader Bench Boss.

Sherwood Park surely needs to shore up things from a defensive stand point, as they have allowed a division worst, 75 Goals Against.

“We feel our Goaltending needs to be better.  We’re not giving up a ton of quality scoring chances like earlier on in the season, now we are limiting teams to ten chances or less per game.  We are out chancing teams as well, so on the flip side, we have to score offensively on our chances.”  Noted Manah.

Certainly the numbers for Goaltender Zac Klassen aren’t where anyone would like them to be.  The team has brought in Goaltender Jake Morrissey in hopes to push Klassen, much like Zach Dyment did one season ago.

Klassen only had six losses in 30 Games after Dyment was acquired.

“Jake has been real good for us so far since coming in, he hasn’t really played a ton since last year and the Drayton Valley game didn’t go his way and he was first to admit that.  He’s worked hard at practice this week getting ready for the weekend, and we fully expect him to push Zac so we can have a tandem we can move forward with.”  Says Manah.

The Crusaders will have their work cut out for them on Friday as they will have to deal with one of the leagues top scorers in Bryson Traptow, who was recently acquired from the Whitecourt Wolverines.  With 24 Points heading into Friday, Traptow has had success against the Crusaders so far this year, putting up a Goal and four Assists in an early October game versus Sherwood Park in Whitecourt.

After Friday’s game, Sherwood Park will head north on Highway 21 for a date with the Lloydminster Bobcats in Fort Saskatchewan at the Jubilee Recreation Centre.  The former home of the Fort Saskatchewan Traders.

Sunday’s game will mark the first time the Crusaders will play in Fort Saskatchewan in nine years.  It will also be the second matchup of the season against the Lloydminster Bobcats.

Sherwood Park took the first meeting in the Border City 6-1 on September 21st.  A game that saw three Point outings from Tyler Maltby, Tanner Younghans and Ty Readman.

After hosting the RBC Cup last season the Bobcats went through quite the turnover and now sit in last place in the North with five Points and a record of 2-12-1.

However, they have gained Points in three of their last four, all of them one goal games.

“They’ve been playing better hockey as of late, we knew they would.  They’re young and they’re going to continue to get better as the year goes on and we expect a tough game in Fort Saskatchewan.”  Says Manah on playing the Bobcats.

Sunday should not only be exciting but special as well, as the AJHL makes a small return to a city that had a franchise for 31 years, which included two championships (1979 and 1984).

It also was the place where Manah got his start in the AJHL in 2004 as the Crusader Coach suited up for 88 Games over a season and a half for the Traders, scoring 16 Goals, 21 Assists for 37 Points and 43 PIM’s.

“It’s a great hockey community, it’s going to be exciting for us to go play at the JRC, which is a classic barn and a good spot to play.  So all the way around it’s going to be a fun weekend and we are looking forward to it.”

-Story By Taylor Medak

photo courtesy of Target Photography