Crusaders Battle Best To End November

Sherwood Park Crusaders (20-6-2) @ Whitecourt Wolverines (19-5-3) Friday November 27th, 2015 – 7:30 PM

Media: Wolverines Radio Network, AJHL Web TV

Sherwood Park Crusaders (20-6-2)* VS Spruce Grove Saints (25-4-0)* Saturday November 28th, 2015 – 7:00 PM

Media: AJHL Web TV

*Record as of November 27th, 2015

The Sherwood Park Crusaders are saving the best for last when it comes to the month of November.  Friday night they wrap up a home and home with the Whitecourt Wolverines, as they look to pick up their fifth win in a row, and then on Saturday night it’s a battle against the AJHL’s top team, the Spruce Grove Saints.

If Wednesday’s 5-4 victory over the Wolverines is an indication of Friday night’s tilt, it would be hard to imagine if either coaching staff has their wits about them.

“We didn’t get the start we wanted to, but we were only down by a goal after the first period, and a strong second period helped in getting the win.”  Says Crusaders GM and Head Coach Tim Fragle.

The Crusaders scored on their first shot of the game, as Luke Kempf netted his fourth of the year.  After that the Wolverines took over scoring three goals in a span of just under seven minutes.  Captain Brett Magee however would pull the Crusaders within one after scoring with 11 seconds remaining in the first period.

“Late goals have a unique way of providing momentum in the game of hockey.  I don't think that will ever change. It's sure better to score a late one than give up a late one.” Added Fragle.

At one point Sherwood Park looked dead in the water and there was thought that the Crusaders could be in for a long night, however, the coaching staff preached consistency.

“There was no panic, we responded as a team in the proper manner by sticking to the game plan in good times and in adverse times.” Fragle echoed.

A pair of goals that came off of hard work and proper shot location gave Sherwood Park a 4-3 lead heading into the final period.

The Crusaders would pull ahead for good off the stick of Forward Devon McAndrews when he received a feed from Forward Brett Van Os from the left wing as the two broke down the ice on a short handed attempt.

Sherwood Park would get s small scare from the Wolverines late in the game as Eric Krienke got Whitecourt within one with 32 seconds left, but the Crusaders picked up the victory and became the third team this season to pick up their 20th victory.

Wednesday’s game also marked the return for Forward Cole Gammer who played his first game since March, Gammer had been dealing with concussion issues since then.
Friday marks the final time the Crusader will be the road team against the Wolverines.  Whitecourt has won both games 6-1 and 4-3 in Overtime.

Fragle knows that even the effort on Wednesday will not be good enough this time around on the road Friday.

“We need better team defense.  We can't give up free goals, we need to make them earn their scoring chances & goals. “

Sherwood Park will look to match a season high five game winning streak with a victory over Whitecourt.

After Friday, the Crusaders will get right back at it and the stars couldn’t have aligned any better to have a matchup with the Spruce Grove Saints.

Arguably the two hottest teams will clash at the Sherwood Park Arena Saturday night, regardless of their respective results on Friday.  Spruce Grove is in Drayton Valley Friday night.

The Saints head into the weekend ranked sixth in the CJHL Top 20 rankings and sit a top of the Viterra North Division with 50 Points and are riding an eight game winning streak.

“We haven't played Spruce since September so it will be good to see where we are at in terms of the league’s top team.”  Notes Fragle.

It will be only the second meeting of the season between the cross town rivals, the Saints defeated the Crusaders 4-2 on September 26th.

Both teams are one and two when it comes to Goals For in the AJHL this year and once again it will be a tough test for Fragle’s group.

“We need to focus on our game plan and stick to it as well as play with discipline.”  Says Fragle regarding the keys against the Saints.

Players to watch:  For the Crusaders, it will be interesting to see how coach Fragle will handle the Goaltending situation this week, Dyment or Klassen Friday night and then if he decides to split the games this weekend, FWD Ryan Kruper picked up his team leading 35th Point on Wednesday and continues to have quite the 20 Year Old campain…For the Wolverines FWD Eric Kirenke was a force in Wednesday’s game scoring two Goals and adding an Assist, two of the top goal scorers in the league were quite, along with Tyler Maltby FWD Dondre Watson was relatively quite in Wednesday’s game, does he return to his offensive touch?…For the Saints, a much similar scoring distribution to that of the Crusaders, FWD Tyler Busch leads the team with 34 Points, there next two leading scores could be on the shelf, both Jake Mykitiuk (31 PTS) and Riley Simpson (28) are listed as injured, the Crusaders will once again potentially run into another top Goaltender, Saints G Matthew Murray heads into the weekend with 14 Wins 2 Shutouts, a 2.18 G.A.A and a .922 Save %.

-Story By Taylor Medak