It hasn’t felt as bad as it looks when you see “L6” underneath the streak column in the Alberta Junior Hockey League Standings on the league’s website. Yes the Cru have lost 6 games in a row, however the games have been close with team putting out some decent efforts.
The Cru are coming off a one goal loss to division rival Drayton Valley Thunder. The Cru put themselves in a bit of a hole early on but were able to stay in the game up until the final horn.
“I thought we controlled the game for 40 minutes but again didn’t capitalize on our opportunities. We only gave up 20 shots against but 3 of the goals against were direct errors on our part but other than that we were okay defensively.” Head Coach and GM Tim Fragle said.
Sherwood Park directed 34 shots on net in Saturday’s 4-3 loss.
Captain Dillon Massie had 2 goals in last Saturday’s loss to lead the Cru offensively, but with the team’s top 2 scorers out of the lineup and at the World Junior A Challenge in Nova Scotia, Fragle isn’t just looking to Massie for the offensive output.
“We need more from all of our lineup.” Fragle stated.
Fragle will be looking at all his guys come this weekend when the Crusaders visit the Grande Prairie Storm in back to back games Friday and Saturday at the Canada Games Arena.
It will be a big weekend as the bottom part of the North Division Standings will have the potential to have a different look if either team can pick up both wins.
Heading into Friday night’s action Grande Prairie sits 2 points back of the 5th spot Crusaders. Sherwood Park has 21 points on the season so far and has a game in hand on the Storm.
Getting the call for the Crusaders in goal once again will be Zac Klassen. The 16 year old will be making his 4th straight start in place of the absent Tommy Nixon and amidst the 6 game losing streak, Fragle likes what he sees from the young netminder, but believes there is still room for improvement.
“[Zac] has been giving us a chance but he does need to come up a few more timely saves in the 1 goal games.”
The last time the Crusaders and Storm met was on September 11th at the Sherwood Park Arena. That day the Storm had fired then Head Coach and GM Blaine Bablitz and gave the reigns to Matt Hughes. Fragle expects to see a different Storm team than the one he faced in that 5-3 victory and the first game Matt Hughes was behind the bench as Head Coach.
“ They are physical, they have a strong fore-check and strong goaltending. The storm is very good on home ice.” Fragle said.
This year the Storm are only 6-5 at home this season, but always manage to play opponents tough. Last year, the Storm finished with a 21-9 record on home ice.
One of those losses came against the Crusaders in a 3-0 victory. Fragle knows there are a few things the Crusaders need to stick to, to ensure success in North Western Alberta.
“Good start is key. Maintaining our composure in the highs and lows in momentum turns during the double game set.”
Once again the Crusaders are without their 2 leading scorers and goaltender for this weekends action. Andrew Taverner, Nicholas Jones and Tommy Nixon remain in competition with Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge in Yartmouth, Nova Scotia. TCW will play in the Semi Finals Friday afternoon. Check out hockeycanada.ca and follow the links to keep updated from the action out east.