Sherwood Park, AB: It was a weekend of excitement for the AJHL, has finally kicked off its regular season schedule for the 2020-21 season on Friday night. Sherwood Park took the 40 minute trip to Spruce Grove for their season debut, before welcoming the Saints inside the Sherwood Park arena on Saturday night.
Friday?s game saw Carson Cherepak get his first career AJHL start, while Spruce Grove countered with Seattle Thunderbirds loanee, Blake Lyda. The Saints dominated the run of play in the first period, outshooting the Crusaders 12-5 in the frame. They were rewarded for it late in the period, as Jayden David went bar down on Cherepak to give the Saints a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
The second period was a much closer affair, with both teams trading chances. It was the Crusaders power play that got them back in the game, as Oil Kings prospect Dylan Guenther found the back of the net after some nice passing from the Crusaders top powerplay. The period would end this way, as neither team could get anything else, with the Saints outshooting the Crusaders 9-8 in the period.
The third period started slow, but ended up being the most entertaining period of the game. Sherwood Park broke the deadlock with a Matt Savoie goal off a two on one. Spruce Grove refused to go away, with Lucas Ciona?s first for the team tying things up. Jayden Davis would give the Saints the lead two minutes later, with Jayden Davis scoring his second of the game. With an empty net, and a nice tip, Ty Mueller tied the game for the Crusaders, setting up overtime in the season debut. Shots were once again close, with Spruce Grove holding a 10-8 advantage.
There was only one shot in the overtime, and it found the back of the net. Graham Gamache scored the winning goal for the Saints, winning their first game of the 2020-21 season. Cherepak made 28 saves in the loss, while Lyda stopped 18 for the win.
Saturday night saw the same teams, but with different goalies for both teams. Jordan Frey started for Sherwood Park, while Tyler Palmer got the nod for Spruce Grove.
First period was a dominant one for Sherwood Park, who used their cycle game to their advantage. Ashton McNelly?s first for the team gave the Crusaders the first lead of the game. Despite a strong period from Sherwood Park, a Spruce Grove powerplay let the Saints tie the game. Nick Leyer picked the top corner, tying things up after 20 minutes. Shots were tied at 11 in the period.
Spruce Grove flipped the script in the second period, as they played the better period, and made it count. Lucas Ciona?s late goal gave the Saints a 2-1 lead after two periods. Sherwood Park started the period well, with a great powerplay, but couldn?t find the back of the net. Shots favoured Spruce Grove in the period, 17-12.
The late goal for Spruce Grove set a fire under the Saints, as they scored two goals in the first six minutes of the third to take a 4-1 lead. Matt Savoie?s second of the season gave Sherwood Park some hope, but a goal called back due to the net being off with 40 seconds left took the wind out of Sherwood Park?s sails. Spruce Grove sweeps the first edition of the Suburb Series, and improve to 2-0-0. Sherwood Park drops to 0-1-1. Jordan Frey made 34 saves and took the loss, while Tyler Palmer made 34 for the win.
Sherwood Park plays again on Friday November 20th, in Drayton Valley.