The Sherwood Park Crusaders kicked off the 2014 calendar year with some fireworks, shutting out one of the highest scoring teams in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. The 3-0 win over the Whitecourt Wolverines allowed the Crusaders to take sole possession of 4th place in the AJHL’s North Division.
Teams traded early chances on the first 3 shots of the game but the Crusaders were able to dominate most of the play in the 1st period.
That domination translated into a Power Play goal at the hands of Crusader Captain Dillon Massie.
“Scoring [that] goal felt awesome, especially in my first game back. It feels good to contribute offensively.” Said Massie who played his first game since November 23rd after suffering a lower body injury.
“I was very happy to get back playing, it’s never fun sitting out. It felt good getting out there and getting a win tonight.” Added Massie.
Sherwood Park through everything they could at Whitecourt in the 2nd, Wolverines Goaltender Mac Engel gave his team a chance to stay in the game with 10 saves in the middle frame. The Crusaders toughest test came on a 1:17 5 on 3 Penalty Kill that started at the tail end of the 2nd period and went into the 3rd.
Sherwood Park would kill that off to regain the momentum, they were 7 for 7 on the PK.
The Special Teams success continued in the 3rd period after Caleb Belter netted his 3rd goal of the season, Andrew Taverner ripped a one timer on the right side past the glove of Mac Engel on the Power Play.
It was Taverner’s first goal in 5 games.
“We all worked together tonight and it’s easy to be offensive when we are all moving the puck and finding each other in the open areas.” Said Taverner.
Taverner, along with Massie and Belter, combined for 7 points in the 3-0 win.
“It was great having Massie back, he brought a lot of speed and energy that gave Belter and myself a lot more room in the offensive zone.” Taverner spoke of his line’s play.
There was another first in the win against the Wolverines.
Goaltender Tommy Nixon got his first career AJHL shutout with 20 saves, the shutout marked the 2nd straight year the Wolverines have been shutout at the Sherwood Park Arena. The Crusaders now lead the season series 3-2 against Whitecourt and will play the Wolverines in their final home game of the season on February 22nd.
The Crusaders have little time to savor the victory as they travel to Bonnyville Saturday night to take on the Pontiacs for the 5th time this season and for the final time this season at the RJ Lalonde. The Crusaders lead the season series 3-1 and have won both contests in Bonnyville against the Pontiacs.
Bonnyville trails Sherwood Park by 4 points, with 36, for 4th in the North Division. Meanwhile, Sherwood Park is 2 points back of 3rd place Lloydminster who has 42 points entering their Saturday night game in Fort McMurray.
The standings in the North could sway once again for the Crusaders tonight if they can get a win and a little help.