The month of November has been a roller coaster ride to say the least for the Sherwood Park Crusaders. It took till the 15th to get the first win of the month and there has been only 2 since that 3-1 victory over the Spruce Grove Saint’s. But the Cru will to end off the second last month of 2013 with back to back wins when they host the Drumheller Dragons Saturday night at the Sherwood Park Arena.
The Crusaders are coming off a 6-3 win over their arch rival the Bonnyville Pontiacs. A game where the Crusaders changed their fortune by playing with a lead rather than behind, like it has been for most parts of November.
“It was good to get the lead [early] and like most teams, you play better with it.” Said Crusaders GM and Head Coach Tim Fragle on his team scoring one minute into the 1st period in Wednesday’s game against the Pontiacs.
And play well the Crusaders did.
The Crusaders were able to get out to a 3-0 lead after the 20 minutes and never looked back.
Part of the reason the Crusaders were successful Wednesday night was the play of the new acquisitions Fragle had acquired.
Late Tuesday night, Fragle had swung a deal with the Spruce Grove Saints sending Forward Jake Mykituk to the Grove for Defensemen Curtis Toneff and Forward Caleb Belter.
“Belter was solid and provided strength in a lot of areas, and Toneff was poise and made smart plays.” Fragle said on the two 20 year olds.
Newcomer Colten Meaver netted his first goal as Crusader.
The top line in Sean MacTavish, Nicholas Jones and Andrew Taverner chipped in with 12 points combined.
“They were moving their feet and using each other extremely well.” Said Fragle on his three leading scorers.
Fragle hopes his top guns and supporting cast can carry the momentum built in Wednesday’s win into Saturday night against the Drumheller Dragons, who are 2 and 0 versus the Crusaders this season.
The Dragons met the Crusaders at the AJHL Showcase back in late September picking up a 4-2 win, and most recently during the Crusaders latest road trip picking up a 6-3 victory on home ice in Drumheller.
“We were behind in both games and tried to play catch up hockey.” Fragle summing up the two previous meetings against the Dragons.
Sherwood Park hopes that a change of scenery against the Dragons can help them avoid getting swept in the season series against the Dragons.
“We need to get a good start and managing the puck well will be key.” Fragle says.
The Crusaders should have their work cut out for them as the Dragons are breathing down the necks of the top teams in the South Division. Drumheller, 15-10-4, sits one point back of the 2nd place Okotoks Oilers and eight points of 1st place Brooks Bandits who lead the Division with 43 points.
Part of the success of the Dragons team this season has been the scoring by committee. Seven Forwards have 18 points or more and three players with 12 goals or more. Another key for the Crusaders will be slowing down the top six Forwards for Drumheller.
“We need to limit time and space of those players, as well as get the right match ups.” Fragle added.
The Crusaders suffered a few injuries last weekend down in Southern Alberta, as a result, several players missed Wednesday’s game against Bonnyville and are expected to miss Saturday night’s contest as well. Captain Dillon Massie, Forwards Fraser Bulbuc, Ryan Kruper, Bryar Ortynski will be out due to injury. Defensemen Marshall Donald is absent while Forward Arthur Gordon who hasn’t played since October 18th, remains out of the lineup with a shoulder injury. Those injuries have forced Fragle to recall Forwards Ross Heidt and Teegan Kooman playing both from Red Deer Midget AAA.
Saturday night’s game also marks RBC Night at the Sherwood Park Arena. The main sponsor of the National championship will have contest and activities during the game against the Dragons. For tickets please call the Crusaders Office at 780-417-1175 or visit the Crusaders Box Office to pick up your tickets for the 7:00 PM puck drop tonight at the Sherwood Park Arena.