Sherwood Park Crusaders (28-15-2) VS Canmore Eagles (19-20-4)* January 24th, 2016 – 2:15 PM
*record as of January 22nd
It’s mid January but the Sherwood Park Crusaders are showing shades of November in their game right now. Having played some of the franchises best hockey in the last ten years in the month of November, the Crusaders are trying to make January a month to remember as well.
Sherwood Park won their third game in a row Wednesday night, 4-0 over the Drumheller Dragons, something they hadn’t done since the 11th month of 2015.
“It was a great team effort, our first [period] was real good, our second twenty was probably our best period of the year and then we finished off strong with a goal in the third.” Says Crusaders 20 year old Devon McAndrews.
The first year Crusader Forward scored two goals in a span of 16 seconds in the middle frame to break open the game against the Dragons.
Another first year Crusader had himself a decent outing Wednesday night, as Darcy Zaharichuk put up three Assists in the 4-0 victory.
“We came out pretty good, we had a great second period and we were really solid defensively.” Notes Zaharichuk.
Both Zaharichuk and McAndrews were put with Brett Van Os as Coach Tim Fragle juggled the lines after a scoreless first period, and chemistry clicked right away.
Goaltender Zac Klassen picked up his second Shutout of the season stopping 36 Shots the Dragons threw at him.
Sunday afternoon the focus for the Crusaders turns to the Canmore Eagles and trying to win their fourth game in a row, something that hasn’t been done since, you guessed it, November.
It’s one of two, third meetings of the season between a Viterra South Division team. The Crusaders and Eagles clashed at the AJHL Showcase with Canmore downing Sherwood Park 5-3 in October. The Crusaders returned the favor on November 21st with a 3-2 win in Canmore.
“They’re a big tough team, fast and their first line is tough to handle. We’re going to have to be physical on them.” Said McAndrews on playing the Eagles.
Canmore has three players in the top 20 in scoring in the AJHL, Forwards Matt Forchuk, Logan Ferguson and Lane Olson. Only Brooks and Camrose have that many or more in the top 20. Forchuk and Ferguson are fifth and seventh respectively in the scoring race heading into the weekend.
Sherwood Park will have to keep that trio at bay. Forchuk, Ferguson and Olson have combined for 13 Points in the two games against the Crusaders this season.
Canmore is in a dogfight for home ice and that fourth place spot in the Viterra South Division with 42 Points, one behind Drumheller. The Eagles are eight Points behind Okotoks for third.
The Crusaders still have lots of work to do to try and catch the Lloydminster Bobcats for fourth place in the Viterra North Division, trailing the Bobcats by eight Points with 58, Sherwood Park will definitely be scoreboard watching as the Bobcats have three tough tests this weekend. Friday in Brooks, Saturday in Okotoks and Sunday afternoon in Calgary against the Canucks.
Players to watch: For the Crusaders, it will be interesting to see if Tim Fragle keeps the line of McAndrews, Van Os and Zaharichuk together, Forward Cole Chorney missed Wednesday’s game and his status for Sunday is still up in the air, Chorney is riding a five game Point streak…For the Eagles, as mentioned, the top guns will be the ones to watch. Matt Forchuk leads the team with 54 Points and 20 Goals, Logan Ferguson has 52 Points and 39 Assists while Lane Olson is behind them with 43 Points. Defenseman Braiden Doucette has fit in nicely since being acquired from Bonnyville. The former Pontiac captain has 37 Points on the season and his third in AJHL scoring among defenseman.
-Story By Taylor Medak