Sherwood Park Crusaders (24-13-2) VS Whitecourt Wolverines January 6th, 2016 – 7:00 PM
Media: AJHL Web TV
In an era of low scoring in the National Hockey League perhaps the world’s best teams should take note when the Sherwood Park Crusaders and the Whitecourt Wolverines clash in Alberta Junior Hockey League matchups.
When the two teams have crossed path this season there is an average of 8.5 Goals Per Game. It might be the most entertaining matchup for the Crusaders as they have historically been in high scoring games with the Wolverines.
“They’re a talented team. Between the two of us we got a lot of offense, it’s always been a back and forth game and it’s always been a battle between the two of us.” Says Crusaders leading scorer Ryan Kruper.
Sherwood Park will be seeking their first win in 2016 as they dropped a 5-4 decision on the road Saturday to the Spruce Grove Saints.
Things looked good for the first 16 minutes, the Crusaders scored first. The team that had scored first in the previous four matchups won the game. Saturday the trend was bucked. Three goals in a span of 2:33 in the final three minutes spelt the demise of Sherwood Park on Saturday night.
“I’m not sure [our] legs were a 100% there, as the game went on we got better but our start wasn’t good enough.” Adds Kruper on the loss to Spruce Grove.
Sherwood Park will look to have a more complete effort Wednesday night as they look to improve their home record to 13-5-1, and avoiding a track meet at all costs against the Whitecourt Wolverines.
“I really enjoy playing them, it’s always a battle and it’s kind of nerve racking at the same time.” Said Kruper.
It was a busy holiday break for the Crusader veteran, Kruper committed this week to the Rochester Institute of Technology in the NCAA. He will join current teammate and former Crusader Danny Smith in upstate New York next season.
“I flew down on the 29th (December), I had a really good time. The school for me is almost perfect, I can take an engineering program and still play hockey…I think it’s going to be a great experience.” Noted the future Tiger.
Wednesday night will see a battle of two of the top leading scorers in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Along with the Crusaders Kruper with 49 Points, fifth in scoring, Wolverines Forward Erik Pedersen leads all of the AJHL with 53 Points.
The season series is tied at two with the Crusaders winning the last two games by a score of 5-4, it’s the first meeting between the two clubs since November 27th.
Whitecourt has got the ball rolling when it comes to the January 10th trade deadline. Joey Bouchard has bolstered his Goaltending by acquiring Garrett Mason from the Spruce Grove Saints Tuesday evening. Heading to Spruce Grove is the highly skilled Forward Dondre Watson, who had 11 Goals with the Wolverines after being acquired in a trade with the Calgary Mustangs.
Sherwood Park heads into Wednesday’s matchup with 50 Points, ten behind the Wolverines for fourth spot in the Viterra North Division. If the Crusaders are to get back in the mix for home ice in the Playoffs, Wednesday is a must win with 21 games remaining.
Players To Watch: For the Crusaders, Tyler Maltby returns to home ice, 15 of his league leading 27 have come at the Sherwood Park Arena, Forwards Ryan Kruper and Cameron Brezinski are on four game Point streaks while newly acquired Matthew Dykstra had a Goal and an Assists in Saturday’s loss to Spruce Grove…For the Wolverines, not only does Forward Erik Pedersen leads the league in Points with 53, but in Assists with 40, Forward Justin Young has four Power Play Goals…five Wolverines have over 30 Points so far in 2015-16, no other team in the North has more than four, Brooks and Canmore are the only other with five or more players with over 30 Points.
-Story By Taylor Medak