Sherwood Park Crusaders (9-10-0) @ Drayton Valley Thunder (3-11-4) Wednesday November 9th, 2016 – 7:30 PM
Media: AJHL WebTV
In sports, there’s a phrase “They don’t ask how, they just ask how many”, and certainly that’s a phrase that can relate to the Crusaders this past weekend, picking up two Wins and four Points.
How they did it is something we’ll talk about right now, but bottom line, Sherwood Park got two victories over Camrose and Lloydminster and crucial Points in the bottom middle of the Viterra North Division.
Mainly, Friday’s contest in Camrose was a wild one to say the least, with the Crusaders blowing a 6-3 lead to the Kodiaks by giving up four Goals in the first 13 minutes of the third Period, former Kodiak and off season acquisition Tanner Younghans took the game by the horns by scoring two goals in just over two minutes to help the Crusaders escape the Rose City with a 9-7 victory.
“It was definitely a wild weekend, I thought we played pretty well in Camrose for 40 minutes, but I think we came out a little ahead of ourselves in the third Period and took things for granted.” Says Crusaders Coach Adam Manah.
“Camrose certainly came out and brought us back down to earth with four straight Goals, but credit our guys for sticking with it and battling it right out to the end of the hockey game. Tanner Younghans took us on his shoulders and got a little redemption against his old team.” Added Manah.
The second Win of the weekend came Sunday afternoon against the last place Lloydminster Bobcats in a neutral site game in Fort Saskatchewan, AB.
The Bobcats certainly did not look like a last place team.
“Sections of the game were good. The third Period was real good, the first ten minutes of the game were good but in the second Period we were selfish and undisciplined and that’s what led to the shifting of their momentum in their [favor] for 20 minutes of so.” Notes Manah.
Sherwood Park got out to an early 2-0 lead courtesy of Alex Rotundo who continued a five game Goal streak with both tallies. The second year Crusader is riding an eight Game Point streak as well even though he had missed four games since October 16th.
“He hasn’t look like he’s missed a beat. He was very good this weekend, although he wasn’t too happy with the way he played in his own end on Friday, but he’s doing the right things offensively and he’s holding himself accountable to be better in his own end.” Said Manah.
Rotundo assisted on the tying and game winner on Friday, he finished the weekend with three Goals and two Assists to bring his yearly total to 10 Goals and 11 Assists.
“Alex has been unbelievable this season.” Added Manah.
The Bobcats were able to keep pace in the 4-3 loss to the Crusaders due to timely scoring on the Power Play and solid Goaltending from Austin McGrath.
Sherwood Park themselves had a nice outing from Goaltender Zac Klassen, who made his first start since October 23rd in an 8-5 Win at home over Olds.
“It was good to get Zac in, in the two weeks he’s had since games he has worked hard in practice and maintained a positive attitude. It was important with him to get in there and play well, and he did everything he needed to do for us.” Says Manah on his Goaltender.
The struggles to keep the puck out of the net are no secret to the Crusaders and there was definitely a positive side to going from seven Goals against on Friday to three on Sunday, but Coach Manah isn’t satisfied with that.
“We still feel we gave up too many Goals, three is too many and we’d like to see that number get under two and if [Lloydminster] doesn’t score late we would probably be satisfied with that, but for the confidence of our group it was a good bounce back. Our Defensive Zone and discipline can always improve.”
Wednesday night the Crusaders will not only look to extend their winning streak to three games but seek redemption on a Drayton Valley team that took it to them 5-1 on the road back on October 29th.
“We did not give up a ton of chances in that one, but they were able to take advantage of their opportunities including some bounces in our zone. For us we weren’t sure if we took them lightly going into that game after we had beaten Olds the previous Sunday or what it was, but the same message will be that there is no easy games in this league and we will stress they will come out hard. Much like Lloydminster.” Says Manah on facing the Thunder.
Drayton Valley sits in seventh in Viterra North Division with 10 Points, eight back of the Crusaders for sixth.
The Thunder had five different Goal scorers in that October 29th game and will look to outwork the Crusaders in order to create offense.
“We need to play better in our own end and manage the puck at the blue line. When we manage the puck we are able to get it in the hands of our Forwards who can get it down the ice. We also need to be discipline once again and not give them any opportunities.” Said Manah on the keys for Sherwood Park.
The Crusaders will see the Thunder twice this week and as well return to the Sherwood Park Arena for the first time since the October 23rd victory over Olds as they host Whitecourt on Saturday and Drayton Valley on Sunday afternoon.
-Story By Taylor Medak