You would be hard pressed to believe if you were told that the Sherwood Park Crusaders would be leading their Best of 5 North Division Quarter Final Series 2 games to 0 and have only had a lead for 2 minutes and 42 seconds against the Bonnyvile Pontiacs.
But the fact of the matter is, that statement is true!
Overtime loomed for the 2nd straight game between the Crusaders and the Bonnyville Pontiacs Friday night at the Sherwood Park Arena but in the dying seconds of the 3rd Period, Crusader Forward Colten Meaver was able to put a backhand shot on goal and past Pontiacs Goaltender Josh Erickson.
“I was fortunate to capitalize when I got the opportunity to jump up with [Nicholas] Jones and [Sean] MacTavish.” Says Meaver on his late heroics.
Crusader GM and Head Coach juggled the lines in the 3rd period due to a combination of injuries and looking to shake things up.
Both the Crusaders and the Pontiacs were looking for something in the 3rd and for a large part of the 2nd period, but could not generate anything, as there was not a goal scored from the 14:15 mark of the 2nd to the last 5 seconds of the 3rd period.
The Pontiacs, as they did in game 1, scored the first goal of the stick of Spencer Foo coming on the Power Play.
“We had a slow start, Bonnyville always comes out of the gates really hard, but I thought we weathered the storm and started to settle in and play our game.” Meaver adds.
The Crusaders weathered the Pontiacs storm by getting a last second goal in the opening 20 minutes from Andrew Taverner. The buzzer beater foreshadowed Meaver’s game winning goal.
The Pontiacs did not let the hiccup at the end of the 1st get to them. Spencer Foo, once again on the Power Play, regained the lead for the Pontiacs early in the 2nd. Crusaders Forward Cameron Brezinski was able to answer back just under 3 minutes later to tie things up at 2. All game long Fragle rolled his Forward lines as everyone seemed to be going, including Meaver’s original line with Ryan Kruper and Daniel Wray.
“I thought our line was playing really well, dumping pucks in, getting on the body, creating space and scoring chances as well.” Meaver noted.
The Crusaders will hope their Forward group can continue with everyone chipping in.
They will need it as one of the team’s top scorer Andrew Taverner left the game in the 3rd period and his status for game 3 has yet to be confirmed.
Another bright spot for the Crusaders was the play of Goaltender Tommy Nixon who stopped 24 of 26 shots and rebounding after a tough start in Game 1 as it was the netminder’s first AJHL Playoff game.
Sherwood Park will need all hands on deck Sunday night when they travel to Bonnyvile for Game 3 and try to wrap up the series on the road.