What at one point was a close game became a veritable Mount Vesuvius in the Crusaders’ favour, as the Cru routed the Lloydminster Bobcats 6-1 on Wednesday, Jan. 16.
Leading 2-0 with four minutes left in the second, the Cru had a momentary lapse of defence as they allowed the Bobcats to score a power play goal, cutting the lead in half and giving Lloydminster new life. A minute-and-a-half later, the Cru regained their two-goal lead with a slick score from Danny Smith. Three fights, three goals, and one period later, the Cru found themselves with a randy win in their laps, as they enjoyed the fruits of their labours with a deserved 6-1 win.
“I thought we had more jump early,” said Crusader head coach Tim Fragle. “I know we only got one in the first, but that one was a big goal for out team. Like against any team, if we can get the lead we are a more confident team. I think that was a big step and I think we swarmed them pretty well in the second. After they made it 2-1, we answered back right away and that was a big turning point in the game.”
Leading the way for the Crusaders was Dillon Massie with two goals, three assists and one star of the game award. A close second with three assists and a scrap was Bowen Croft. Arthur Gordon got in on the magic with a Gordie Howe hat trick, recording a goal, an assist and a chippy fighting major. Josh Healey and Ryan Luiten rounded out the scoring with a goal each. Matt Tomkins made a couple of difficult saves to keep the Cru confident and ended the game stopping 21 shots.
“We have Bonnyville next and that is always a good test,” Fragle said. “We have a good rivalry there.”
The Cru’s next game is against the Pontiacs in Bonnyville on Friday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. The last time the teams met, the Pontiacs beat the Cru handily 6-2 on Dec. 12, 2012.
The Crusaders currently sit seventh in the eight-team North Division of the Alberta Junior Hockey League with 45 points, three points behind the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.
“We have to play with structure for the rest of the run,” Fragle said. “When we play loopy pond hockey, we aren’t very good. When we play with some structure, we are a good team. It’s the basic fundamentals that you tell PeeWees. Just getting them to do it every day is the challenge.”