Sherwood Park, AB: The AJHL North Division Final started positively for the Sherwood Park Crusaders defeating the Spruce Grove Saints in the opening two games of the series to get themselves off to a two head start.
In game one, the Crusaders battled back from 2-1 down to take the game by a score of 4-2. Carter Savoie tied the game up late in the second period with his second of the postseason on the powerplay. Then, with just under six minutes remaining the game, a wrist shot through a crowd by Reid Irwin beat Matthew Davis and gave the Sherwood Park a 3-2 lead. Nick Bowman put the ribbon on top with an empty net goal to Sherwood Park a 4-2 win and a 1-0 series lead.
The following night, Matt Berlin played outstandingly in a 39 save effort as the Crusaders pulled off another victory on home ice in overtime. Arjun Atwal and Brett Wieschorster got the goals for the Crusaders in regulation who never trailed once in the game despite only registering only 12 shots on goal through 60 minutes. Once in overtime, Sherwood Park was put on the powerplay with the Saints getting called for too many men on the ice. Michael Benning found Atwal on the face-off to the left of Davis who blasted a one-timer by the Spruce Grove shot-stopper to give the Crusaders a 3-2 victory and head to the Grant Fuhr Arena with a 2-0 series lead.
With the series now in Spruce Grove, the Saints came out meaning business in game three scoring three goals before the 10-minute mark of the first period. The Saints would add a fourth before the Crusaders got on the board with a goal from Michael Benning on the powerplay. Despite winning the third period 2-1 with goals from Nick Bowman and Brayden Hyland, the Crusaders would fall 5-3 to the Saints losing their first game of the series. Carter Gylander also made his first appearance of the postseason making 21 saves in relief of Berlin who made 27 midway through the game before being replaced.
The next night back at the Grant Fuhr Arena, Sherwood Park started out much better than the night before putting pressure on Spruce Grove early. Unfortunately, it was the Saints that struck first on the powerplay from their captain TJ Lloyd midway through the first period. Cameron Aucoin responded for the Crusaders with his second of the postseason; however, the game wasn’t tied long with the Saints scoring two goals in two minutes in response to the Aucoin goal. Stanley Cooley added a fourth in the third period to give Spruce Grove a 4-1 victory and tie the series up at 2-2.
Now back in Sherwood Park, the Crusaders still couldn’t find any answers to the Saints allowing five goals on home ice. Brandon Wallis scored late to end the shutout hopes for Davis which would turn out to be the last goal at the Sherwood Park Arena this season.
In game six, after 20 minutes of play at the Grant Fuhr, Sherwood Park was up 3-2 over Spruce Grove heading into the intermission thanks to goals from Garrett Clegg, Jayden Platz, and Will Zapernick in the final five minutes of the frame. The game was tied quickly into the second period when Brett Trentham scored 18 seconds into the frame. Zach Kaiser gave the Crusaders the lead again shorthanded, however, the Saints then went onto score three unanswered goals to win the game 6-4 and the series 4-2.
As an organization, the Sherwood Park Crusaders would like to thank everyone that has supported the team this season. Without your support, we wouldn’t have achieved what we did this season and for that once again we say thank you.