The goal for the Sherwood Park Crusaders in the first 2 games of the North Division Semi Finals versus the Spruce Grove Saints was to win at least 1 game in Spruce Grove. Win one game, and get home ice advantage for the rest of the series. Well the Crusaders were not only able to accomplish that, but as well pick up 2 victories!
Game 2, a much tighter game compared to Sherwood Park’s Game 1 4-2 victory, saw the Crusaders edge out the Saints 52 seconds into Overtime winning 2-1.
“It was a tight game 5 on 5. 2 of the 3 goals came on the Power Play.” Says Crusader GM and Head Coach Tim Fragle.
The Saints definitely elevated their game in the 2-1 Overtime loss after allowing the Crusaders to get a 2 goal lead in the 1st period of Game 1 and never able to tie the game back up at any point.
“They finished Game 1 hard and in Game 2 were very good.” Said Fragle on the Saints play.
Spruce Grove through everything at the Crusaders in Game 2, Sherwood Park Goaltender Tommy Nixon made 42 saves in the 2-1 win, including 19 in the 2nd period.
“He’s been strong, in Game 2 he was really sharp.” Fragle noted.
The theme for the Playoffs in 2014 for the Crusaders has been timely scoring. We saw it in the series against Bonnyville and in the opening Games against Spruce Grove it is evident again. Obviously Dillon Massie’s Overtime winner is a timely goal, but add in the goal in Game 1 in the final minute of the 1st period from Andrew Taverner, as well the Crusaders have been able to score after the Saints and have scored the 1st goal in both games of this Best of 7 series.
“If you want to win in playoffs you need big plays at key times, and we’re getting that right now.” Says Fragle on the timely scoring.
All playoffs Fragle has been talking about the importance in depth, and feel it is key to going far in the Post Season in any league. The Crusader Coach has been impressed a lot by his 3rd line.
“I thought the Kruper, Gordon, Wray trio played well in game 1.” Said Fragle.
That group combined for 5 points in Game 1.
As big as the success has been for the Crusaders in this series it is far from over and Fragle has been adamant that his groups focus remains in the present.
“We plan on taking it 1 game at a time. First 2 our behind us.” Fragle added.
The Crusaders need to take things Game by Game as they are in complete control of this series and can expect the Saints to come out of the gates at the Sherwood Park Arena as their backs are against the wall down 2-0 in this series. There are some question marks for the Saints primarily with Defense and Goaltending. Saints Defenseman Brandon Hickey was injured in Game 2 along with star Goaltender Kenny Cameron. It will be game time to see whether those individuals are able to go, especially in goal, will it be Cameron or Tanner McCoriston, who stopped 16 of 18 shots in Game 2, getting the start for Spruce Grove.
Sherwood Park’s focus will be on themselves.
“We need that strong start and play a smart engaged game.” Says Fragle.
Fragle is also looking for a few other things to improve in Game 3 for his hockey club. The Power Play, which was great in the 1st Round, is 1 for 9 in this series. While Spruce Grove has scored all their goals in this series on the Power Play, Fragle will make adjustments on the Penalty Kill.
Scoring is also something that the Crusaders would like to increase as they only have scored one goal in their last 4 periods in regulation time.
Game time for Game 3 of the North Division Semi Finals is 7:00 PM at the Sherwood Park Arena. Be sure to get to the rink early as it should be one of the best crowds of the year. The Saints will also be bringing a fan bus from Spruce Grove so it should be a raucous atmosphere at the Arena tonight. For ticket information call the Crusaders Office at 780-417-1175.