Friday night the Sherwood Park Crusaders will finish their 3rd consecutive game on the road with a visit to Drayton Valley to take on the Thunder.
The Cru are coming off a 5-3 victory over the Lloydminster Bobcats on Wednesday night, pushing the Crusaders win streak to 4 games. But much like the game before Head Coach and GM Tim Fragle believes it wasn’t a 60 minute effort.
“Again a strong start but a below average 2nd & 3rd period.”
The Crusaders hung on for the 2 goal victory, much to the thank to Goaltender Tommy Nixon who won his 3rd consecutive start.
“He has played well and is giving us a chance to win consistently.” Fragle said about Nixon, who stopped 36 of 39 shots on Wednesday night.
The Crusaders still have the undesired 3 headed goalie monster, with Zac Klassen and Ethan Wood in the mix with Nixon. And with back to back games this weekend decisions between the pipes will be interesting.
At least for Saturday’s game versus Spruce Grove.
“Klassen [starts] tonight and undecided for tomorrow at this time.” Fragle says about his goaltending heading into the weekend’s action.
Another bright spot in Wednesday’s win was getting offense from the back end. Marshall Donald and Dane Phaneuf scored the Crusaders first 2 goals in the hockey game.
“It’s a familiar message… we want scoring from through our line-up” Fragle added.
The Crusaders will head into Drayton Valley with a 4 game winning streak, the Thunder on a streak of their own, but one that they would like to get out of. Drayton Valley has gone 0 and 4 to start the 2013-14 season and will be hungry for a victory, in what may be the Crusaders toughest test so far this season.
“It will be. They are tough at home and you can always bet they will come to compete. Always difficult games versus Drayton Valley.’ Fragle said of his Friday night opponents.
It’s been a tough start for the Thunder as this season is the first time in 4 years, AJHL ledgend Fran Gow is not with the organization. But Fragle expects nothing different from Thunder teams he’s seen in the past.
“[They’re] Gritty, Physical and a hardworking team. Strong structured game as well.”
Saturday night’s opponent for the Crusaders will be their Capital Region rivals, the Spruce Grove Saints.
It will mark the first meeting between the 2 clubs since the Crusaders were eliminated in last year’s Gas Drive Cup Playoffs at the hands of the Saints in 6 games.
The Saints went on to lose in the Gas Drive Cup to the Brooks Bandits.
That was then, this is now.
Both the Crusaders and Saints come into this season with much younger lineups. 10 rookies with the Crusaders and 15 for the Saints on their rosters. Even with more experience on the Crusaders side of things, Fragle still believes the Saints always set the bar.
“It’s always a measuring stick game versus Spruce. Yes, both teams are young and you can expect a good game. Playing with structure and discipline are very important when playing Spruce.”
The Crusaders will be playing back to back games for the 2nd time this season, they opened up the 2013-14 season with a home and home with Whitecourt. The Crusaders dropped the first game but rebounded with a win. What will transpire this weekend?
For tickets to Saturday night’s game versus the Spruce Grove Saints, call the Crusaders Box Office at 780-417-1175.