A dismal start combined with excellent Goaltending from Austin McGrath of the Lloydminster Bobcats led to a 3-1 loss for the Sherwood Park Crusaders Wednesday night at the Sherwood Park Arena.
The Bobcats played a perfect road Period in the first, scoring early and holding that lead to the buzzer of the first frame.
Defenseman Austin Ehret of the Bobcats opened the game four minutes in with a left point shot that beat Crusaders Goaltender Zac Klassen on the short side.
Sherwood Park sustained some offensive zone time in the opening period, but several missed nets by the defenseman combined with lack of traffic in front of the Bobcats net led to nothing for the Crusaders early on.
Things got worse for the Crusaders to start the second Period when failed zone exit turned into a 2-0 deficit after the Bobcats leading scorer Kobe Walker put a Zach Kaiser pass into the net over a sprawling Zac Klassen.
The game was relatively penalty free as the first Power Play wasn’t handed out till just over two minutes left in the second Period after Bobcat Forward Wilson Northey was called for Slashing.
The Crusaders would negate their only Power Play of the game when Tyler Maltby took a Boarding minor in an attempt to get back into his own zone after Lloydminster had a shorthanded opportunity.
Sherwood Park would get on the board on a Short Handed chance of their own as a turnover was forced at the Crusaders blue line and pick up by Brendan Stafford who was able to feed Matt Dykstra on a two on one in the dying seconds of the middle frame.
The Crusaders however, could not build off the momentum of the late Period Goal in the second as they peppered McGrath and the Bobcats with 18 shots in the third Period, coming away with nothing.
Sherwood Park did what ever they could to spark themselves in the third Period, Ashton Cassault dropped the gloves and engaged in a spirited tilt with Bobcats Forward Mason Fischer.
The Crusaders rose their play after the fight, but perhaps it was the save by Austin McGrath on Sherwood Park’s Ryan Rebelato that foreshadowed the end result with four minutes remaining. A five alarm glove save off of Rebelato caught the attention of the Sherwood Park Arena, and what has to be the save of the year for or against the Crusaders.
Wednesday’s game was a classic case of many things, not getting out to a good start, lack of execution, not playing a full 60 minutes and the fact that on any given night in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, any team can win.
Sherwood Park will look to hit the reset button as they failed to gain ground on the top four in the Viterra North Division and will prepare for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, who pay their final visit to the Sherwood Park Arena on Friday night.
-Story By Taylor Medak