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Crusaders Battle Thunder

Sherwood Park Crusaders (21-8-2) @ Drayton Valley Thunder (13-12-4) December 4th, 2015 – 7:30 PM

Media: AJHL Web TV

Sherwood Park Crusaders (21-8-2)* VS Drayton Valley Thunder (13-12-4)* December 5th, 2015 – 8:00 PM

Media: AJHL Web TV

*record as of December 4th, 2015

It’s been two months since the Sherwood Park Crusaders lost consecutive games, but on Wednesday night, it was just that, a second loss in a row for the Crusaders as they fell 3-1 to the Camrose Kodiaks on home ice.

“We didn't play with enough jam in our game.  We didn't battle hard enough, we got out competed for pucks, and we didn't skate with Camrose.  We got away from playing our brand of Crusaders hockey which has been a big part of our success lately.”  Says Crusaders Associate Coach Adam Manah.

Manah, in his first year with the Crusaders will take over the reigns till the end of the calendar year as GM and Head Coach Tim Fragle is in Leduc, AB preparing for the Team Canada West Camp that begins this weekend in preparation for the World Junior A Challenge in Ontario.

The team could potentially be without the services of Forward Tyler Maltby and Defenseman Chris McKay for the rest of the calendar year after Friday’s game, those two will be trying out for Team Canada West.

The Crusaders will look to avoid a third straight loss for the first time since October 10th Friday night when they travel to Drayton Valley for the first half of a Home and Home with the Thunder.  It will also be the second meeting of the season between the two clubs, Sherwood Park won 6-5 on Remembrance Day on the heels of Brett Van Os’ four goal game.

Manah is hoping the team can come out with much better and consistent efforts that were not evident in the last two contests against Spruce Grove and Camrose.

“I think the last two games we've been missing our Swagger.  This is our team acronym.  Unfortunately, we've been missing a few of the letters in our game lately.  Work ethic, bringing energy every shift, and being relentless against the opposition would be a few of them that have to greatly improve heading into this weekend.”  Added Manah.

The Crusaders are still in a dog fight in the Viterra North Division and can distance themselves from the Thunder with a victory.  Drayton Valley heads into the weekend sitting comfortably in sixth place with 30 Points but would like to make a push with home ice being 14 Points behind Sherwood Park for fourth spot.

Although it has slowed down the last couple of games, Sherwood Park is one of the highest scoring teams in the AJHL, their 6-5 win on November 11th in Drayton Valley marked the fourth time they put six goals or more up versus the opposition, it’s been done six times to date this season.  Sherwood Park will look to regain that offensive swagger as Manah spoke of Friday night.

“Offensively for us as a team we have to get back to having a shot first mentality in the offensive zone to have success.  We've gotten away from that over the past two games, and funneling pucks to the net was one thing that really helped us get the win in Drayton Valley the last time we were there.  We also did a good job of driving the net, having net presence, and making it difficult not only on their goalies to see pucks but forcing their Defense to defend us at net front.” Noted Manah.

It will be a big weekend for the Crusaders and a chance for Sherwood Park to keep pace among the upper placed teams in the division as they are three points behind Lloydminster for third place.

“Some keys for us as a team this weekend will be getting back to playing our brand of Crusaders hockey.  This entails taking care of our own end first.  We need to play with pace and force Drayton to skate with us while being relentless on pucks & finishing checks.  We need to manage pucks at the key lines and minimize turnovers in all three zones.  Lastly, we need to make smart decisions offensively and get to the tough areas to score goals.”  Says Manah on heading into the two games this weekend.

Saturday night will be a rare 8 PM start at the Sherwood Park Arena between the Crusaders and Thunder.

Players to watch: For the Crusaders, the top guns have quieted down, Ryan Kruper had his six game point streak snapped on Wednesday’s loss, Tyler Maltby still sits with 25 Goals on the season and hasn’t found twine in his last two games, Forward It’s been two months since the Sherwood Park Crusaders lost consecutive games, but on Wednesday night, it was just that, a second loss in a row for the Crusaders as they fell 3-1 to the Camrose Kodiaks on home ice.

“We didn't play with enough jam in our game.  We didn't battle hard enough, we got out competed for pucks, and we didn't skate with Camrose.  We got away from playing our brand of Crusaders hockey which has been a big part of our success lately.”  Says Crusaders Associate Coach Adam Manah.

Manah, in his first year with the Crusaders will take over the reigns till the end of the calendar year as GM and Head Coach Tim Fragle is in Leduc, AB preparing for the Team Canada West Camp that begins this weekend in preparation for the World Junior A Challenge in Ontario.

The team could potentially be without the services of Forward Tyler Maltby and Defenseman Chris McKay for the rest of the calendar year after Friday’s game, those two will be trying out for Team Canada West.

The Crusaders will look to avoid a third straight loss for the first time since October 10th Friday night when they travel to Drayton Valley for the first half of a Home and Home with the Thunder.  It will also be the second meeting of the season between the two clubs, Sherwood Park won 6-5 on Remembrance Day on the heels of Brett Van Os’ four goal game.

Manah is hoping the team can come out with much better and consistent efforts that were not evident in the last two contests against Spruce Grove and Camrose.

“I think the last two games we've been missing our Swagger.  This is our team acronym.  Unfortunately, we've been missing a few of the letters in our game lately.  Work ethic, bringing energy every shift, and being relentless against the opposition would be a few of them that have to greatly improve heading into this weekend.”  Added Manah.

The Crusaders are still in a dog fight in the Viterra North Division and can distance themselves from the Thunder with a victory.  Drayton Valley heads into the weekend sitting comfortably in sixth place with 30 Points but would like to make a push with home ice being 14 Points behind Sherwood Park for fourth spot.

Although it has slowed down the last couple of games, Sherwood Park is one of the highest scoring teams in the AJHL, their 6-5 win on November 11th in Drayton Valley marked the fourth time they put six goals or more up versus the opposition, it’s been done six times to date this season.  Sherwood Park will look to regain that offensive swagger as Manah spoke of Friday night.

“Offensively for us as a team we have to get back to having a shot first mentality in the offensive zone to have success.  We've gotten away from that over the past two games, and funneling pucks to the net was one thing that really helped us get the win in Drayton Valley the last time we were there.  We also did a good job of driving the net, having net presence, and making it difficult not only on their goalies to see pucks but forcing their Defense to defend us at net front.” Noted Manah.

It will be a big weekend for the Crusaders and a chance for Sherwood Park to keep pace among the upper placed teams in the division as they are three points behind Lloydminster for third place.

“Some keys for us as a team this weekend will be getting back to playing our brand of Crusaders hockey.  This entails taking care of our own end first.  We need to play with pace and force Drayton to skate with us while being relentless on pucks & finishing checks.  We need to manage pucks at the key lines and minimize turnovers in all three zones.  Lastly, we need to make smart decisions offensively and get to the tough areas to score goals.”  Says Manah on heading into the two games this weekend.

Saturday night will be a rare 8 PM start at the Sherwood Park Arena between the Crusaders and Thunder.

Players to watch: For the Crusaders, the top guns have quieted down, Ryan Kruper had his six game point streak snapped on Wednesday’s loss, Tyler Maltby still sits with 25 Goals on the season and hasn’t found twine in his last two games, Forward Darcy Zaharichuk scored the only goal for the Crusaders on Wednesday and has two Goals in his last three games…For the Thunder, they are led offensively by Brayden Harris with 23 Points, Matt McNeill has 11 Goals.  Drayton Valley will also have a familiar face in their lineup, Sherwood Park Native Austin Yaremchuk was recently acquired by the Thunder.

-Story by Taylor Medak