It wasn’t the result the Sherwood Park Crusaders were hoping for in their Home Opener Friday night at the Sherwood Park Arena, the Crusaders once again, fell to their cross town rival the Spruce Grove Saints, 3-1, on home ice. Luckily for the Crusaders, they can put the loss right behind them and focus on their next game, Saturday night versus the Saints in Spruce Grove at the Grant Fuhr Arena.
Saturday will be the 2nd half of a home and home between the Crusaders and the Saints. The 1st half, as stated, didn’t go the way the Crusaders planned. Sherwood Park found themselves down early when Issac Farah fired a puck past Zac Klassen almost 3 and a half minutes into the opening period. The Crusaders would battle some early adversity killing off 3 penalties in the first 22 minutes.
As expected, the game was tight checking and offensive chances were very limited. Both teams tightened up defensively in the 2nd period giving up next to no chances. Crusaders rookie Cole Gammer had the team’s best chance in the 2nd breaking in on Saints Goaltender Tanner McCorriston, Gammer was tripped up on the play by Austin Hunter. The Crusaders found themselves only down by a goal in the hockey game heading into the 3rd period.
The Crusaders failed to come out of the proverbial gate to start the 3rd period, giving up an odd man rush and less than 30 seconds into the period, Saints veteran Tyler Busch riffled a pass from Sherwood Park native Brandon Biro past Klassen to make it 2-0. Busch’s 1st goal of the season would be the eventual game winner as Crusader Forward Daniel Wray would get Sherwood Park back within 1 3 minutes after the Busch goal. Although the goal was unassisted, Tyler Maltby should be given one for his big hit that caused a turnover in the Saints zone, the turnover ended up on Wray’s stick, who then put the puck over the shoulder of McCorriston and in the net.
The Crusaders ultimately shot themselves in the foot in this hockey game as they took another penalty in the 3rd period, giving the Saints their 6th opportunity of the night. Spruce Grove would finally cash in as Paul Lovsin sealed the game with a wrist shot from the high slot after numerous clearing attempts by the Crusaders failed.
Sherwood Park threw everything they could in the final few minutes at Spruce Grove but failed to get any quality shots off on McCorriston. Saints take the first meeting of the season, 3-1.
Saturday night, the Crusaders will return to the building where their season ended 6 months ago, and with the taste of defeat in their mouth from Friday night, rarely any additional motivation should be required for this game. In order for victory the Crusaders will need to be more discipline, although their Penalty Kill was good in Friday’s loss, penalties disrupt the rhythm and flow of a hockey team. The Forward group will need to rally off a great defensive effort from the Defensemen Friday night. The D core will need to carry over the effort in Friday’s loss which included a plethora of blocked shots.
Zac Klassen potentially could be in between the pipes again for the Crusaders, Klassen held his own for the Crusaders in Friday night’s game and with Tommy Nixon a little banged up, Head Coach Tim Fragle will not hesitate to go with his 17 year old Goaltender.
Story by Taylor Medak