It will be a weekend of soul searching for the Sherwood Park Crusaders as they travel to North Western Alberta to take on Grande Prairie Storm for a pair of game to wrap up the 2014-15 AJHL Regular Season.
It has been one of ups and down for the Crusaders this year and right now the team must move forward into the post season with the fact they will not have home ice advantage. The most important thing for Sherwood Park now, is to gain some momentum and positivity for the Gas Drive Cup Playoffs.
“We need to see some smarts, discipline and team togetherness this weekend.” Says Crusaders GM and Head Coach Tim Fragle.
The Crusaders are hoping to regain their scoring touch after a rough outing last Sunday against the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
“We started behind again and were forced to play catch up hockey, it?s hard against good teams to play that way.” Says Fragle on the 4-1 loss to the Pontiacs.
The Crusaders allowed the games first goal for the second straight time against the Pontiacs. They also allowed, for the second straight game, Pontiacs Forward Bobby McMann to score a short handed goal that ultimately ended up being the game winner.
Sherwood Park did not go quietly in the 4-1 loss, the Crusaders held the Pontiacs at bay in the 3rd Period that saw three fights.
“We’ve worked on playing with pace, discipline and as a team this week in practice.” Said Fragle.
The Crusaders have made one visit to Grande Prairie so far this season, losing 6-4 on December 16th.
“Every team is better at home, more confidence and familiar surroundings for Grande Prairie.” Notes Fragle.
It’s been a year to forget for the Grande Prairie Storm as they only have 15 wins heading into Friday night’s game and have lost 10 games in a row. These two teams last met on February 15th when the Crusaders edged the Storm 3-2. Fragle expects the Storms two best efforts this season.
“We will need to have good starts and be discipline. We need to be focused on sticking to the plan for 60 plus minutes.”
The Crusaders were hoping to have Goaltender Tommy Nixon and Defensemen Brett Magee back in the lineup this weekend but will have to wait longer for their return. Forwards Brett Van Os and Lane Zablocki who missed Sunday’s game against Bonnyville will be a game time descisions on Friday. Defenseman Ben McLeod and Forward Bowen Croft (who has missed all year) are still sidelined.
Sherwood Park’s first round opponent is still yet to be decided heading into the final weekend of the regular season. With 26 wins ans 59 Points the Crusaders can finish no worse than sixth in the Vittera North Division but no better than fifth. Drayton Valley can catch the Crusaders with two wins and a Crusader loss. Sherwood Parks opponent will be one of either Bonnyville, Fort McMurray or Lloydminster.
Pick your poison.
-Story By Taylor Medak