It’s fair to say that in the series so far between the Sherwood Park Crusaders and Bonnyville Pontiacs has come down to the team that as been the most opportunistic, has won. Cleary in the Post Season, the clichés are thrown out for the recipe for success, who works the hardest, blocking shots, sacrifice, execution etc..
The Crusaders have a 2-0 series lead over the Pontiacs and can punch their ticket to the second round for the fifth straight season with one more win. They’ve been able to be in the position they are in, largely in part because of being opportunistic.
It’s quite clear in Game One on Thursday, Sherwood Park was outplayed in many points in the game as the Pontiacs had a total of 51 shots but could only put three goals past Zac Klassen.
The Crusaders won the Special Team battle in Game One, taking advantage of their opportunity, scoring twice on the Power Play.
Ryan Kruper scored the Game Winning Goal on the Crusaders second shot in Overtime to take Game One 4-3.
Both teams have been able to score in bunches in this series and follow up shifts after a goal in Game Three will be a large key as the Crusaders have scored four of their seven Goals in a combined span of 2:32 in the first two games, while the Pontiacs in their five goals scored four of them have come in a span of 2:37.
Needless to say the series has been closer than the 2-0 lead would appear.
Sherwood Park has been able to take advantage of their chances over the Pontiacs however. In the third Period of Game Two, the Crusaders only mustered five shots on goal but Forward Merritt Oszytko scored the Game Winning Goal 6:46 into the final frame.
So far in the Best of Five Series it has been the usual suspects for both teams coming up with the bulk of the scoring. For the Crusaders, Ryan Kruper leads the way, as per usual, with four Points, two Goals and two Assists. While Tyler Maltby has a Goal and two Assists in this series. Three other players are tied with two Points.
The Pontiacs have their big horses leading the way via Brinson Pasichnuk and Bobby McMann with three and two Points respectively. Bonnyville has seven other players that have registered a point in this series.
With the Crusaders now holding last change, it may take an unlikely hero to get the Pontiacs back in this series.
They keys for Game Three will be once again for both teams and how they handle the shifts after being scored on and or scoring. Both teams have scored in bunches in this series and are threats to repeat.
Sherwood Park will look to try and contain the dynamic Defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk who’s speed rivals players at higher levels. Pasichnuk has had sever chances in this series to add to his team lead in Points.
The Crusaders also really need to continue on the upward trend of limiting the shots from the Pontiacs as they went from 51 to 36 in Games One and Two.
Playing to the whistle and not forcing plays is also key, Sherwood Park allowed a goal with 0.9 seconds remaining in the middle frame of Game One and must expect a desperate Bonnyville squad as they are facing elimination in Sherwood Park Sunday night.
Sherwood Park has won seven straight Playoff Games against the Pontiacs dating back to February 29th, 2011 and can advance to the Second Round of the Gas Drive Cup Playoffs with a victory in Game Three. If Sherwood Park is unsuccessful Sunday night, the two teams will meet Monday night in Sherwood Park for Game Four.
-Story By Taylor Medak
*Photo Courtesy of Bonnyville Nouvelle