Sherwood Park Crusaders (7-9-0) @ Drayton Valley Thunder (2-8-4) October 29th, 2016 – 7:30 PM
Media: AJHL WebTV
It’s been an up and down month of October for the Sherwood Park Crusaders, and it all wraps up Saturday night in Drayton Valley as the Crusaders head west on Highway 16 to battle the Thunder.
With a record of 4-5-0 for the month Sherwood Park is hoping to put together back to back wins for the second time this month and head into November on a positive note.
The Crusaders are coming off a Sunday afternoon thrashing over the Olds Grizzlys 8-5, and will look to build off the offensive output produced in that game.
“We simply outworked them for 60 minutes right from the drop of the puck. A noticeable difference compared to the last time we played them early in the season. We were making good decisions with the puck in all three zones, put 52 shots towards the net, and again played a very solid team game all the way around.” Says Crusaders Head Coach Adam Manah.
Part of the success on Sunday came in large part from Forward Ty Readman. The second year Crusader scored a Hat Trick and capped off a week in which he scored four Goals and added three Assists. The success turned into being named the leagues Player of The Week.
“Readman is having success because he's competing every shift. When he does that he's a pretty good player. Obviously anybody that has watched him knows he has great poise and patience with the puck, and can see the ice very well. He is moving his feet right now, being tough to defend, and for a smaller guy is finishing checks and creating space for himself out there. In the last game against Olds he was a little more selfish with the puck in terms of shooting it and he got rewarded with three Goals.” Said Manah on Readman.
“I started to click with my linemates, we played really well down low and that led to a lot of success and getting on the score sheet.” Says Readman.
The sophomore lined up with rookie Forward Arjun Atwal and leading scorer Tyler Maltby.
“Our line works well when everyone is sharing the puck and we can get the other team running around.” Added Readman.
The trio combined for seven Points in Sunday’s win, 18 for the three Games last week.
The Crusaders will look to continue the scoring touch Saturday night and pounce on a Thunder team that has lost 12 Games in a row, but also they must take care of things on the defensive side as Sherwood Park has allowed a Division worst, 70 Goals Against.
“For our group right now it's simple. We are starting to head in the direction we want to go, now it's continuing to give that kind of effort every single night we step on the ice. Some of the keys we'll be focusing on is playing with urgency tonight for 60 minutes. We only have one game this week, we need to make it count. We've been concentrating on better Defensive Zone habits, playing stick on puck and body on body as that will be another area of focus for us. Lastly, our Special Teams game has to get back to where it was in the first 10 games of the year. We need both clicking tonight to be successful.” Noted Manah.
Readman echoes the same thing.
“As a team we need to be stronger in the Defensive Zone and limit scoring chances of our opponents. That will allow us to start winning those close games and keep games tight.”
Amidst the 12 Game losing streak, the Thunder have kept games close and especially in October have been a victim of a bad or tough schedule, depending on who you ask.
The first 5 Games were against two opponents.
Three straight against Bonnyville, on the road, sandwiched between the Spruce Grove Saints.
As mentioned, Drayton Valley has played teams tight and has fallen in Overtime in the last three contest, allowing them to pick up Points and keep pace in the Viterra North Division.
“Going into Drayton Valley we need to build off last game and keep rolling offensively. We know they are hard working and play with structure. so we need to beat them in those categories and take the game to them. We can’t let them hang around for too long.” Noted Readman.
With a win Sherwood Park can finish the month with five in October, two less than last year. But the group is hoping they can emulate the success they had last season in November, where the club went 9-1-2 and went 17 Games straight with at least a Point.
“We've been pretty happy with the progress we've been making in games even though the results haven't really showed it. The last 5 games we are 1-4-0, but our overall team game continues to improve and we are starting to figure out how we need to play game in and game out consistently. With that being said, hopefully things will continue to build in the right direction for us.” Stated Manah.
The Crusaders added to their crease this past week acquiring Goaltender Jake Morrissey from the Thunder. The 1997 born Calgary, AB Native spent some time briefly with the Crusaders last season and has experience in the Western Hockey League, most recently with Medicine Hat at the start of this season.
“He didn't really get a fair shot last year coming into the fold later on, so when we found out we could get him we jumped on it. He brings WHL experience, size, and competes and moves well in the net for a bigger guy. We are looking forward to him contributing to our team right away.” Says Manah on Morrissey.
With only one game this week the Crusaders will look to empty the tank in their first of six meeting against the Thunder this year, both teams will also see each other twice more in the month of November.
-Story By Taylor Medak
photo courtesy of Target Photography