It could be insult to injury Wednesday night at the Sherwood Park Arena if the Crusaders can pick up a regulation victory over the Grande Prairie Storm. The Storm are 7 points back of the Drayton Valley Thunder for the final playoff spot in the North Division, with 4 games remaining. Grande Prairie realistically has to win out with only the Thunder picking up a single point in their final 5 games. In a season where the Storm had lost a Head Coach early on and have seemingly yet to recover from last year’s first round exit at the hands of the Crusaders, it’s fitting that Sherwood Park can once again eliminate the Storm from playoff contention for the second straight year.
Sherwood Park will look to continue their 2 game unbeaten streak after picking up a big victory Friday against the Bonnyville Pontiacs and falling in a shootout to the Drayton Valley Thunder, 4-3 Monday afternoon.
“3 out of 4 points we will take but we should have had 2 points on Monday. We had plenty of opportunities to score in the 2nd and 3rd period to win in regulation.” Said Crusaders GM and Head Coach Tim Fragle.
Had the Crusaders held on to the 3-2 lead in the game against Drayton Valley. Forward Andrew Taverner would have picked up his 9th Game Winning Goal of the season, and his second in as many games.
Fragle says it’s no coincidence that Taverner is getting the big goals for the Cru this season.
“He has experience and has good opportunity to play in those key situations.”
Former Crusader Adam Moghrabi tied the game at 3 minutes after Taverner scored.
Overtime solved nothing, then came the shootout.
After Sherwood Park had scored on attempts 2 and 3, it was up to Thunder Forward Michael Cardinal to keep the shootout alive.
And he sure did.
No player had scored on either team for the next 15 rounds. All skaters for both teams had taken a shot and still no winners.
“After 8 or 9 shooter it almost became comical as you do prepare to use your whole bench in the shootout.” Said Fragle on the shootout.
Fragle was aware that once all the players had shot, he could use anyone off his bench.
“I actually told the referee the ruling after our last shooter shot and he just confirmed that all players had shot.”
Nicholas Jones was unable to give the Crusaders the lead in the shootout and Jamie Waddington was able to put the puck past Tommy Nixon on the next attempt, ending a 19 round shootout.
The Crusaders will have to put Monday’s game behind them and be ready to face a Grande Prairie Storm team on the ropes and clinging to their slim playoff hopes.
“There will be some early adversity and we have to respect them, they have beaten us twice.” Said Fragle on going up against the Storm.
It’s been a home series this season between the Cru and Storm, both teams victories against one another have been in their respective buildings. This could sway in the favor of the Crusaders who have lost only 9 games at home this season and 1 in 2014.
“I think we have really formed an identity on home ice that we will get after the opponent with pressure.” Said Fragle.
The Storm will look for a better effort since the last time they visited the Sherwood Park Arena, falling 7-1 to Crusaders thanks to 3 point games from Nicholas Jones and Sean MacTavish.
Wednesday night will mark the second last home game of the regular season for the Crusaders before the Playoffs. Saturday night against Whitecourt is the final home game of the regular season. For tickets, please call the Crusaders office at 780-417-1175.