Sherwood Park Crusaders (3-3-0) VS Okotoks Oilers (4-1-0) September 29th, 2016 – 8:00 PM Encana Arena Camrose, AB
Media: AJHL WebTV
Sherwood Park Crusaders (3-3-0)* VS Brooks Bandits (4-1-1)* October 1st, 2016 – 3:00 PM Encana Arena Camrose, AB
Media: AJHL WebTV
*record as of September 29th
It’s the time of the year where the scouting community at higher levels converge on the Alberta Junior Hockey League and for the second straight year it will be in Camrose, Alberta for the AJHL Showcase.
Hundreds of scouts from the NHL, NCAA, CIS, WHL and more will be watching the Sherwood Park Crusaders and the 15 other Alberta Junior Hockey League teams compete the next three days in the Rose City, hoping to find the right pieces for their respective hockey teams down the road.
For the Crusaders, beginning the Showcase right after a demoralizing loss might be the best thing for the 3-3 group as they fell to the Spruce Grove Saints Wednesday for the second straight time at home, 3-1.
“We weren’t good. From start to finish we didn’t show up, it’s disappointing because it was the second time at home, our guys have to figure it out, it’s just not acceptable. Although it was 3-1, it could have been a lot worse.” Says Crusaders Head Coach Adam Manah.
A stat that has favored Sherwood Park so far through the first six games in the young season is that the Crusaders are 2-0 when playing the second half of back to back games.
Sherwood Park will try to become 3-0 when they take on the Okotoks Oilers Thursday night in Camrose.
Coach Manah will look to his own experiences as a player with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons to help motivate his team and get the players focused on four important Points the next two days.
“We told our guys they can’t be individualistic, they have to work together as a team.” Notes Manah.
The Crusaders will get another taste of the South Division in Camrose, and Thursday it will be the Okotoks Oilers for the first time in 2016-17.
The Oilers are in a bit of a transition much like the Crusaders, with a new Head Coach and GM this season. Tyler Deis took over from James Poole who was with the Oilers for several years before departing in the off season to join the Calgary Canucks.
And the Oilers have gotten off to a great start at 4-1 heading into the Showcase.
“They are deep, they have a good Forward group that can put the puck in the net, a good back end that can shut things down as well as a good starting Goalie in Riley Morris. It’s going to be a very tough test for us to see how we can bounce back against a very good opponent.” Said Manah on the Oilers.
The Saturday afternoon matchup will provide another tough outing for the Crusaders as they take on the defending Gas Drive Cup champions, the Brooks Bandits.
The Bandits have had an interesting start to the Regular Season as their GM and Head Coach Ryan Papaioanou was suspended 15 Games during the summer resulting from the Semi Final game at the RBC Cup in Lloydminster.
Brooks hasn’t let it phase them as they are 4-1-1 and sit in first place with the Calgary Canucks in the Viterra South Division.
“It’s no different when we play them or Spruce Grove, they’re fast and the can burry you when they get the chance. For us, we are going to have to get pucks deep, create energy, be physical, shoot the puck and force them to play defense. We didn’t do that Wednesday night.” Points out Manah.
“We played too much defense on Wednesday and that’s because we didn’t simplify and didn’t move pucks. If we don’t want to get into trouble against Brooks, that’s where it starts.” Added Manah.
Sherwood Park has had it’s misfortunes against the Bandits away from home, but is hoping a neutral site game can give them confidence in being able to defeat Brooks away from the Sherwood Park Arena.
The Showcase weekend is a big one for the players as many are hoping to catch the eye of NCAA scouts and earn a scholarship to a Post Secondary School in the United States. Forward Tyler Maltby is the only committed player the Crusaders have on their roster.
With a big weekend and excellent team play, we could see that number rise as we head into winter.
-Story By Taylor Medak