Sherwood Park Crusaders (16-6-2) VS Grande Prairie Storm (4-19-2) November 18th, 2015 – 7:00 PM
Media: AJHL Web TV
It will be interesting to see how the Sherwood Park Crusaders will respond after a tough, hard fought, playoff like loss when they host the Grande Prairie Storm Wednesday night at the Sherwood Park Arena.
Saturday night it was the Alex Leclerc show as the Lloydminster Bobcats came back to defeat the Crusaders 2-1 in Overtime on the heals of a 32 save performance from the French netminder.
“He’s pretty solid. He covers a lot of net for not being the biggest guy, he moves well and he is out of his crease a lot.” Says Crusaders Forward Brett Van Os.
Van Os had an exceptional week for Sherwood Park as he scored 4 Goals against the Drayton Valley Thunder exactly a week ago. It was the first time in over two years since a Crusader scored four goals in one game.
“It was one of those games where I could have had seven or eight, the puck really kept coming to me and I had a lot of chances.” Van Os says of his four goal game.
However, Van Os was unable to carry the offensive wave into last weekend, and into the game against the Bobcats.
“Both teams didn’t really have much in that game, it was a real shutdown game.” Added Van Os.
The Crusaders have been able to adapt to any kind of game in 2015-16, the most recent example is this past week. Back and forth track meets against Drayton Valley and Bonnyville, to a more common, low scoring battle against Lloydminster.
Heading into Wednesday’s game the Crusaders are riding a 12 game point streak, 10-0-2 in that span, last losing in regulation back on October 14th against Lloydminster. They’ll look to extend the point streak against a team they’ve had their way with this season. Although the first two games against the Grande Prairie Storm were one goal games, the Crusaders are 4-0 against the Storm so far this year and have outscored them 25-11. The Storm are 2-8-0 in their last 10 and have a league worst 0-10-0 record on the road.
“They’re a team you can never really count out of it, they run a pretty aggressive forecheck and they give you trouble at times. It’s a team we need to show up against and treat it like any other game.” Said Van Os.
Sherwood Park is playing some of the best hockey they’ve played in a decade, their current 12 game point streak is the best they’ve had under GM and Head Coach Tim Fragle, although they haven’t matched the seven game win streak we saw in 2013-14, the last double digit unbeaten in regulation streak came in 2009-2010 under Ross Kenny with a 10 game point streak.
“It’s a lot different from last year, I’m showing up to the rink everyday and I’m thinking we’re going to win, it’s like we expect to win versus last year where it felt like we were going to win, I show up and I expect to win.” Van Os pointing out the team focus amidst the 12 game point streak.
The Crusaders cannot take the Storm lightly if they are to continue their point streak, and will need a full 60 minute effort from top to bottom, including a much needed effort on the Penalty Kill as Grande Prairie has the third ranked Power Play at 25%. Forwards Luke Mahura and Michael Clarke are tied for third in the league for Power Play Goals with 5.
Players to watch: For the Crusaders, Defenseman Chris McKay looks to continue his 6 game point streak, 2 Goals and 4 Assists in that span, Forward Cameron Brezinski had a nice little weekend scoring 2 Goals and adding 2 Assists, the Crusader Coaching staff has praised Brezinski of his play of late…in the race for the goal scoring lead will Forward Tyler Maltby pot his league leading 20th as he remains tied with Bonnyville’s Bobby McMann and Whitecourt’s Dondre Watson at 19…For the Storm, a balanced attack from their top six is sandwiched by Luke Mahura with 25 Points (10-15) and Josh Zablocki with 13 Points but the team lead in goals with 11.
-Story By Taylor Medak