Crusaders glad to return home

The Sherwood Park Crusaders have fallen to second-to-last place in the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s North Division following a split weekend on the road.

Prior to the weekend’s two games, the Crusaders (14-12-4) sat in sixth place, and have since been surpassed by the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (15-13-3). They now sit ahead of only the bottom-of-the-barrel Lloydminster Bobcats (8-17-6).

The weekend started out in a strong way for the Cru, as they took on yearly playoff rivals in the Bonnyville Pontiacs (16-10-5), coming away with a 3-2 win on Friday.

Although they were outshot on the night 46-25, the Crusaders came away with the win following two goals from Ryan Luiten and one from Garth Wallin.

Saturday night, however, would prove less kind to the Cru, as they fell 5-4 against the Drayton Valley Thunder (16-12-3).

This time winning the shot count 41-23, Park goals from Wallin, Nicholas Jones, Andrew Taverner and Ryan Kruper were not enough to quiet the Thunder, who scored all five of their goals consecutively, with one ending the first period and the rest spanning throughout the second.

Although the AJHL schedule is less than halfway complete, Crusader head coach Tim Fragle said it’s deep enough in the season that the end game is in sight.

“Absolutely, you’re scoreboard watching already and it’s only early December,” he said.

Fragle continued: “It’s going to be an interesting race here, as we’re not even at the 30-game mark yet, so there are still a lot of games to make up, but at the same time, with how tight (the division is), it’s going to be a real tough run down the stretch.”

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