After 4 straight games on the road the Sherwood Park Crusaders returned to the Sherwood Park Arena this past Wednesday night and were able to snap their 3 game losing streak with a 6-0 win over the Grande Prairie Storm. It marked the 2nd time this season the Crusaders have put up more than 5 goals and moved the Crusaders record to 3-1 on home ice.
The Storm carried the play for the first few minutes of Wednesday’s game but the Crusaders executed a perfect faceoff play in the offensive zone when Ryan Kruper won the faceoff to the right of Storm Netminder Adam Beukeboom, putting the puck on the stick of Arthur Gordon who wrested one past Beukeboom to put the Crusaders up 1-0.
“It was a slow start for us but once we scored the first goal we started to get going and played much better from there on.” Says Crusaders GM and Head Coach Tim Fragle.
The Crusaders certainly carried the play for the rest of the game.
Zac Klassen got the start for the Crusaders and was solid in goal. Klassen came into Wednesday’s game with only 1 win in 6 Games Played so far this season, his record hasn’t portrayed his play.
“Zac has played well and it was good to see him get a better result.” Fragle added.
The 25 saves for Klassen was his first AJHL shutout.
There was another first in the 6-0 victory, young Lane Zablocki scored twice including his first AJHL goal to extend the Crusaders lead early in the 3rd period.
The Crusaders put the game out of reach 13 seconds after Zablocki’s 1st goal when Tyler Maltby was able to get his 4th goal of the season. The assists came from Liam Gregor and Reid Bosse who extend point streaks to 4 games.
The Crusaders have had a knack for scoring in bunches this season, just in their last game prior to Wednesday, Sherwood Park scored 3 goals in 2 minutes against the Calgary Canucks.
“Most team like to build on momentum after a goal and we aren’t any different.” Noted Fragle.
Wednesday’s win was definitely a complete group effort, defensively the team stepped up with the absence of team captain Dane Phaneuf.
“All 4 forward lines were good, and thought the pairing of McLeod & Magee were solid.” Says Fragle.
Saturday night the Crusaders will host the Drayton Valley Thunder who they met 3 weeks ago in Drayton Valley and picked up a 3-0 victory over the Thunder. Fragle knows his team will need to be tighter in all facets going up against Drayton Valley Saturday night.
“We will a better start, better Neutral Zone play and our compete needs to be better on Saturday. We have to skate, Drayton Valley will push the pace and we need to be ready for a quick game.” Fragle says going into Saturday night’s game.
The Thunder will be coming off a 4-2 loss to the Bonnyville Pontiacs a week ago and would like to pick up a win to distance themselves from the bottom of the Viterra North Division with Grande Prairie and Whitecourt behind them. The Thunder trail Lloydminster by 2 points for 5th in the division heading into Friday night’s action, Sherwood Park, with 15 points, sit in 3rd and trail 1st place Spruce Grove by 3 points heading into the weekend.
Story By Taylor Medak