Sherwood Park Crusaders (13-10-1) VS Lloydminster Bobcats (4-18-1) Wednesday November 23rd, 2016 – 7:00 PM
The Sherwood Park Crusaders are mirroring their November from 2015 as the team has gone 6-0-1 so far in the current November.
Points in seven straight games have the Crusaders emulating the 11 straight games they were able to pick up Points last season at this time, but unfortunately are coming off a loss that ended their season high six game winning streak with a 4-3 Overtime defeat at the hands of the Spruce Grove Saints.
But the group remains optimistic as they begin a six game home stand Wednesday, against Lloydminster.
“I thought we played two real solid games on the weekend despite the fact we didn't play a complete 60 minutes in either one. Friday, we were very good in the first and third periods, and Saturday we were good in the first and second periods. Both games we let up a little bit, and allowed the Saints to climb back into it. For the most part though, we were exceptional defensively and created a high number of scoring opportunities.” Says Crusaders Head Coach Adam Manah.
Sherwood Park picked up a possible three of four Points last weekend against the Saints, even though Spruce Grove took the season series 4-2, the Crusaders gained some confidence with a win on home ice after dropping the first two games at the Sherwood Park and being outscored 9-1 by the Saints.
“Obviously we're very happy with the win on Friday at home against Spruce Grove. We were in another tight game with them going into the third period, and it was good to see the guys explode for three goals in a matter of two and a half minutes to break the game open and seal the win for us. We think it surprised them, and showed them that we are a changed hockey team since a month ago when we last saw them.” Added Manah.
Now the focus turns to one of two teams in the Viterra North Division the Crusaders have a winning record against, the Lloydminster Bobcats.
The last place Bobcats come into Wednesday’s game after dropping a 5-2 decision to the Drayton Valley Thunder Tuesday night, their second straight loss.
“Lloydminster will work hard, keep it simple, and bring a physical game. They have some Forwards that can put the puck in the net, and both times we have played them so far their Goaltending has been strong.” Notes Manah.
The Bobcats gave the Crusaders all they could handle back on November 6th in a 4-3 Crusader Win in Fort Saskatchewan.
Lloydminster Goaltender Austin McGrath turned away 38 shots giving his team a chance in the one goal contest.
The Bobcats also took advantage of their Power Play opportunities in that game, going 2 for 5 after an undisciplined second period by the Crusaders.
If the game is close, the Bobcats can play with anyone.
“Keys will be to play with a 60 minute effort. We had lapses against Spruce for a period in both games. We need to be more consistent and make sure we are good in all three frames. We want to continue to be good defensively, and limit their scoring opportunities. Lastly, continue to do what we are doing offensively. We are getting contributions out of different guys, and that's been a big part of our recent success. We are hoping to continue that into Wednesday.” Said Manah.
Wednesday will also mark the return of Zac Klassen, the Crusader veteran’s last start was on November 9th in Drayton Valley as Sherwood Park has been holding an ongoing audition for their second Goaltender spot.
New addition Matt Berlin, who went 2-0-1 in his first three games as a Crusader, has been recalled by Seattle of the Western Hockey League due to an injury to Carl Stankowski.
“We expect Klassen to pick up where he left off in his last start against Drayton Valley, and coming in relief against Whitecourt. He was calm, steady, and made the saves he should. All we need from him is a consistent effort each night he's in the pipes.” Says Manah on Klassen.
Wednesday provides an opportunity for the Crusaders to pick up Points against a team they should beat, and provide confidence heading into the weekend as they host divisional foes Fort McMurray and Bonnyville.
-Story By Taylor Medak