SHERWOOD PARK, AB – The Sherwood Park Crusaders are proud to announce the addition of 11 new players to their organization.

The crop of talent that will be brought in are a special bunch; five individuals finished in the top 30 in AMHL scoring, with one goaltender finished top three in goals against, again in the AMHL. On top of that, nine of the newcomers are coming in already having AJHL experience, with six getting into game action for the Crusaders last season.

Brandon Vogel will be a name that Crusaders fans will recognize as the most recent recipient of the Crusaders Goaltender of the Year award. Additionally, Vogel played a big role for the Crusaders at the end of last season, especially in the playoffs where he stole a game one victory over the Bonnyville Pontiacs.

Joining Vogel in the crease is Calgary native Sam Burford. Burford spent last season with Calgary Royals in the AMHL where he finished of the season with some stellar numbers. He was top five in goals against (1.91), save percentage (0.928), and shutouts (3).

“Both guys are young goaltenders who were key pieces for their Midget AAA teams last year”, Kyle Chase general manager stated. “The experience Vogel got with us last season was huge for his confidence going into this season. We expect to have two solid goaltenders for the 2018 season”.

On the back end, the Crusaders signed one defenceman who has had an experience with the organization already. Payton McIsaac affiliated in two games for the Crusaders last season, contributing offensively on one occasion. During his final year with the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers, McIsaac led all defenceman on his team in points with 23. McIsaac was a 2nd round draft pick a of the Saskatoon Blades and will be given the opportunity to head to their training camp this summer.

Two local talents joined the organization from the Sherwood Park J.Ennis Kings, Graham and Eric Blanchette. Both Blanchette’s play forward and have a great ability to put points on the board. Eric led the entire AMHL with 40 points in his first year in the league. His older brother Graham wasn’t far behind him with 33 points, he also skated for the Crusaders in one game last season.

“We are very fortunate to pick up two fantastic hockey players in Graham & Eric.  Graham is a solid two way centre that works extremely hard, does all the little things right, pays attention to the details of the game, and on top of it all he can put the puck in the net as well”, Coach Adam Manah told us, he continued on to say, “Eric is a guy that can play on the wall or down the middle.  He brings good size, has great speed, and is a very smart player.  He has a great skill set, in which he can set guys up, or put the puck in himself.  We are excited to have both local brothers signed for next season, and know they will be big contributors moving forward for us.”

Bryce Osepchuk completes the trifecta of Fort Saskatchewan Rangers. Osepchuk is another player Cru fans may remember, playing in five games in 2016/2017 and assisting on a goal against the Drayton Valley Thunder.

Adding to the list, the Cru signed the “Hardest Working Man in Hockey” Marco Runco, according the general manager Kyle Chase.

“Every time Vince watched him play, (some nights) he was the best offensive player, and some nights he was the best defensive player, but consistently the hardest worker night in and night out. He’s been hitting the weights hard this summer and putting in the time to get better; you can’t have enough character guys like him around”, Kyle Chase stated.

An additional two players from the Edmonton area were named part of the roster, Garrett Clegg and William Zapernick. Both finished in the top 20 in scoring in the AMHL last year for their Midget AAA teams. Clegg will bring a strong hardworking mentality, along with a rocket of a shot. As for Zapernick, he’s a player that will bring a lot of character to the line-up.  He isn't the biggest guy on the ice, but works extremely hard in all three zones, and brings tremendous speed.

Along with Sam Burford, the Crusaders signed two more players from out of town. Firstly, the Crusaders signed Deklan Whillans, a native of Grande Prairie. Whilians played for the Grande Prairie Storm Midget AAA team in 2017 and scored 16 points in 26 games.

“Deklan is a player that brings size to our line-up.  He's 6'2, 175 lbs and plays a heavy game.  That is something that has developed in his game over the past couple years, and he is now a big power forward, noted coach Adam Manah. “He's strong in the corners, uses his big frame to protect pucks, and when he gets the chance takes pucks hard to the net.”

The other out of town addition is Chase Anderson from Lloydminster. Anderson lead the way the the Midget AAA Lloydminster Bobcats with his scoring ability ended 2017 with 29 points. He’s a multi-dimensional player and could definitely be a leader on this team and we hope he continues to trend upward.

The Crusaders would like to congratulate these players and their families.

Below is the list of players carded by the hockey club (NAME – POSITION – BIRTH YEAR – LAST YEAR'S TEAM and LEAGUE).

Brandon Vogel – Goaltender – 99 – Fort Saskatchewan Rangers (AMHL, Midget AAA)

Sam Burford – Goaltender – 99 – Calgary Royals (AMHL, Midget AAA)

Payton McIsaac – Defenceman – 00 – Fort Saskatchewan Rangers (AMHL, Midget AAA)

Chase Anderson – Forward – 99 – Lloydminster Bobcats (AMHL, Midget AAA)

Eric Blanchette – Forward – 00 – Sherwood Park J. Ennis Kings (AMHL, Midget AAA)

Graham Blanchette – Forward – 99 – Sherwood Park J. Ennis Kings (AMHL, Midget AAA)

Garrett Clegg – Forward – 00 – St Albert Raiders (AMHL, Midget AAA)

Bryce Osepchuk – Forward – 00 – Fort Saskatchewan Rangers (AMHL, Midget AAA)

Marco Runco – Forward – 99 – Knights of Columbus Pats (AMHL, Midget AAA)

Deklan Whillans – Forward – 99 – Grande Prairie Storm (AMHL, Midget AAA)

William Zapernick – Forward – 99 – SSAC Athletics Midget AAA – (AMHL, Midget AAA)