Crusaders Split With Kodiaks

Sherwood Park finished off the exhibition series with their first two games against southern division opponents. Saturday night?s game in Camrose pitted Jordan Frey of the Crusaders against Griffin Bowerman for the Kodiaks.

The Crusaders got off to a good start in the first, as Zafir Rawji scored an early powerplay goal after a Justin Barker hooking penalty. Camrose responded half a period later when Lynden Grandberg beat Frey to tie the game. Special teams continued to help Sherwood Park, as Matt Savoie scored their second powerplay goal off the period, putting them at 2/3 in the period. Shots in the period favoured Sherwood Park, firing 15 at Bowerman, while Frey only faced 9.

Camrose fired back quickly to start the middle frame, as Callum Gau scored just over two minutes into the period to tie the game once again. The Kodiaks weren?t done there, as Ryan Sullivan?s powerplay marker gave the hosts their first lead of the night. This lead would last until the final two minutes of the period when Nolan Wutzke scored his first goal for the Crusaders to tie things up heading to the third. Camrose turned the shot clock around, firing 15 of their own at Jordan Frey, while Bowerman faced 11 from Sherwood Park.

The third period was up for grabs, and the Kodiaks jumped on it early, scoring just two and a half minutes into the period to take a lead they wouldn?t give up. Blake Kondor scored the eventual winner, and Griffen Fraser added an empty netter, as Bowerman and the Kodiaks were able to shut down Sherwood Park when it mattered and went on to win 5-3. Bowerman made 35 saves for the win, while Jordan Frey made 27 in the loss.

The scene shifted to the Sherwood Park Arena for Sunday night?s matchup. This game marked the end of the AJHL?s exhibition season, as the league gets set for the start of the regular season on Friday, November 13th. The Kodiaks started Griffin Bowerman for the second game in a row, while Carson Cherepak got the nod for Sherwood Park.

The first period was quiet in comparison to Saturday?s game, with only one goal scored. It went the Crusaders way, as Tanner Fincaryk scored a little under five minutes into the game. A penalty for each team in the period, though neither side could capitalize and the period came to an end. Cherepak made seven stops in the period, while Bowerman made eight of his own.

The game got going in the second period, as the Crusaders tripled their lead with goals from Evan Arnold and a second from Fincaryk, this time on the powerplay, giving Sherwood Park some breathing room. The powerplay goal was a result of game misconduct given to Griffen Fraser for a hit to the head of Crusaders defenceman Kevin Minnoch. Minnoch would return to the game in the third period. The Crusaders piled on the pressure in the period, hitting the net 20 times and Bowerman had to be sharp, making 18 saves. Cherepak, though not as busy, still solid with nine saves of his own.

Sherwood Park entered the period with a three-goal lead, and they would leave it with that lead. Camrose looked to make it a game, but couldn?t take advantage of the four powerplays they were given in the period, until the final one, when Lynden Grandberg scored, breaking Cherepak?s shutout with a little over six minutes to play. Matt Savoie would ice the game late, finding the empty net with a little over a minute to go, as Sherwood Park finishes the exhibition season with an 8-2-0 record. Cherepak made 26 saves in the win, while Bowerman made 37 saves in the loss.

Next up for Sherwood Park is a date with their cross-town rivals in Spruce Grove, as they play the Saints in a home and home to kick off the regular season.