This coming weekend will mark the final time of the 2013-14 regular season that the Sherwood Park Crusaders will travel down South in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. They will be looking to extend their 2 game winning streak when they take on the Okotoks Oilers Friday night.
Sherwood Park is coming off a hard earned victory over the Calgary Canucks Wednesday night. The Crusaders through everything they could at Canucks Goaltender Colin Cooper, as 49 shots went his way and only 5 goals getting past him.
“We are heading in the right direction and want to keep pushing forward.” Said Crusaders GM and Head Coach on his team’s play of late.
Although the Crusaders picked up the win, at times in Wednesday’s game the Canucks were able to keep it close with timely goals and again, excellent Goaltending from Colin Cooper. He had caused fits for the Crusaders bench in parts of the game.
“There was frustration from the players, but for the coaches it was the reinforcement of good offensive zone habits.” Said Fragle.
The Crusaders were able to pull away in the 3rd, with help from Caleb Belter, who was able to chip in with an assist and the Game Winning Goal.
“He has the ability to play like that and we hope to get him more consistent to help the team.” Fragle noted.
The focus now shifts to an Okotoks team that is in a dog fight for 2nd place in the South Division, they are 2 points behind Drumheller for the top spot in the First Round of the Playoffs, the Dragons have 57 points. Brooks is in First with a 6 point lead for the bye into the Second Round.
The Crusaders and Oilers have met once this year, a 4-3 loss to Okotoks at the Sherwood Park Arena back in October.
“We weren’t sharp at all in that game, we need a good start early and play a simple and structured game.” Fragle said about facing the Oilers.
The October loss was in large part thanks to a dismal 2nd period that saw the Oilers score 3 goals in the middle frame. 2 of those goals came from the Oilers leading scorer, John Edwardh.
Not only will the Crusaders have to keep an eye on Edwardh but the Oilers Trade Deadline acquisition, Derek Thorogood, who was brought in from the Calgary Canucks for Mitch Amato.
After Friday night, the Crusaders will travel a few kilometers west to Canmore to take on the Eagles, another team in the South vying for that 2nd place spot. The Eagles are led by Defenseman Trey Philips with 48 points, an individual that can strike at any time.
“Forward coverage will need to be good. Heads will need to be activated and make him earn it.” Fragle said on the AJHL’s leading scorer among Defensemen.
Saturday’s game is the 2nd time the clubs will face each other this season. A high scoring affair in mid December saw the Crusaders get a 7-5 victory over Canmore at the Sherwood Park Arena. Nicholas Jones had a Hat-Trick in that game for the Crusaders.
Canmore is riding a 4 game winning streak going into Friday’s action when they take on the Drumheller Dragons.
It will remain to be seen what Goaltender the Crusaders face Saturday in Canmore, Cam Barnes was in goal for the loss against the Crusaders, if they are to face Ryan Ferguson on Saturday night, it could be a tough test as Ferguson sports a .932 save percentage going into Friday.
Tim Fragle said he will go with Zac Klassen in between the pipes for Sherwood Park Friday night and has yet to confirm what he will do Saturday.