Sherwood Park Crusaders (19-15-1) VS Lloydminster Bobcats (8-24-2) Wednesday December 21st, 2016 – 7:00 PM
The Sherwood Park Crusaders will look to head into the holiday break with a win as they take on the Lloydminster Bobcats Wednesday night at the Sherwood Park Arena.
The Cru are coming off another disappointing outing at home against one of the league’s best team as they fell to the Whitecourt Wolverines 6-0 at the Arena on Saturday, only after beating the Wolverines the night before in Whitecourt by a score of 4-1.
Heading into the weekend the Wolverines were a top of the Viterra North Division standings, and Friday’s game was certainly one of the best, if not the biggest win of the year for Sherwood Park.
Getting a split against one of the top teams in the AJHL is a big deal, but unfortunately the way it occurred, it was a big deal…in a negative way.
The Crusaders were able to keep pace through the first ten minutes of Saturday’s game, but after the Wolverines sprung from three goals in the latter half of the first, the team had no pushback.
Head Coach Adam Manah tried to spark his team by replacing Goaltender Zac Klassen with Jake Morrissey, but his group did not respond.
The Wolverines scored once in the second and twice more in the third to down the Crusaders 6-0.
The loss marked the first time since opening night that the Crusaders were shutout, coincidently it was by the same score courtesy of the Spruce Grove Saints.
Sherwood Park was held to 19 shots in the game and only a mere three in the third.
From top to bottom the Crusaders were out performed in every facet, something that unfortunately has reared its ugly head a couple times in December.
It could be a long break for a group that has showed at times, more often than not, that they can play and beat any team in this league, if they aren’t able to pick up a victory against the last place Lloydminster Bobcats on Wednesday night.
The last time the two teams squared off was on November 23rd at the Sherwood Park Arena.
Bobcat Goaltender Austin McGrath stymied the Crusaders 38 times for a 3-1 victory for Lloydminster’s fifth victory on the season at the time.
The Crusaders found themselves down early in the game and through everything they could at the Bobcats and McGrath after that.
If the Crusaders come out with the effort that saw them throw 18 shots on the Bobcat net, and the timely scoring they got in the first two meetings, they should be successful.
But Sherwood Park can’t come out with an effort like they did last Saturday. They can’t expect that it will be an easy game and a proverbial point night.
The biggest hurdle for this group still is the lack of consistency from game to game. Too many times the Crusaders have gone into games with momentum and not channel that into their next opponent
If the players want to be among the top teams in the league, they have to bring the same effort night in and night out, not be satisfied with splits and have complete buy in from what the coaching staff is preaching.
The Bobcats will be desperate for a win on Wednesday night as well, they’ve lost five in a row and a victory would push them back into the final playoff spot in the North Division.
Sherwood Park can pick up their 20th Win and move to within eight Points of the fourth place Fort McMurray Oil Barons who sit their with 49 Points heading into the holiday break.
-Story By Taylor Medak