The Sherwood Park Crusaders are looking to avoid losing back to back games for the second time in this early 2014-15 AJHL Regular Season when they travel to Drayton Valley Friday night to play the Thunder.
The Crusaders are coming off a road loss to the Whitecourt Wolverines by a score of 4 to 1. The Crusaders only goal was the first goal of the game and late in the 1st period courtesy of Cameron Brezinski. Sherwood Park set themselves up nice heading into the final 40 minutes, but could not build off the late period goal.
“We played a strong 30 minutes then Whitecourt cashed in on 2 goals late in 2nd period. Goals against that could have been prevented on our end.” Says Crusaders GM and Head Coach Tim Fragle.
The Crusaders once again lost the Special Teams battle by allowing 2 Power Play Goals and failing to convert on their odd man opportunities. Sherwood Park is 0 for 12 on the Power Play to start the season and are dead last when it comes to Power Play percentage.
“We aren't drawing enough Power Plays at 3 per game on average in our first 4 games and secondly we have been undiscipline, as 6 of the 12 power plays have been cut short due us taking penalties. With that said we need to keep the PP simple!” Fragle added.
It won’t get any easier Friday night on Special Teams as the Thunder are ranked 2nd in the AJHL on the Penalty Kill by allowing only 1 goal on 13 opportunities.
The Thunder are coming off a season where they climbed out of the basement of the North Division and got into the Gas Drive Cup Playoffs but ultimately fell to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in 3 straight games. The Thunder return a plethora of veterans and are very well coached by Mike Mueller. The Crusaders were 3-2-1 against Drayton Valley last season.
“They can skate and push the pace. We need to be prepared for a quick game. They have Daigle in net who gives them a chance every night.” Says Fragle.
Goaltender Marc-Olivier Daigle is one of the top netminders in the AJHL and has gotten off to a great start with a 1.98 Goals Against Average and an excellent .940 Save Percentage.
Although Zac Klassen made 30 saves in Wednesday loss, Fragle will start Tommy Nixon in goal Friday for Sherwood Park. Nixon was in between the pipes for the Overtime victory last weekend in Spruce Grove.
If the Crusaders are to be successful Friday night, they will need to have a consistent effort, something we saw in the first half of Wednesday’s loss as Coach Fragle stated, but it needs to be for 60 minutes.
“We need a good Start, execution on the offence and minimizing our mistakes.” Noted Fragle.
The Crusaders will wrap up the week with a home game against the Olds Grizzlys Sunday afternoon. Olds won their only visit to the Sherwood Park Arena last season, 2-1.
Story by Taylor Medak