The Sherwood Park Crusaders have an opportunity to set themselves up in a pretty decent position going into the Christmas break. With a record of 17-18-2 and only 4 points back of 3rd in the North Division, you couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to round out the 2013 calendar year.
The Crusaders will look to continue their streak of points for the 5th straight game when they take on the Fort McMurray Oil Barons. The Crusaders are coming off a 6-2 victory over the Bonnyville Pontiacs Wednesday night on the road.
“I liked our game 5 on 5. We carried the play and we had goals over 3 lines, which always helps.” Said Crusader GM and Head Coach Tim Fragle.
Along with the regular goal scorers of late, Jones and MacTavish, Bryar Ortynski netted his second goal of the year, while Colten Meaver chipped in with 2 goals of his own.
“We feel when healthy we should be able to score over 3 lines and have a 4th that plays a hard/physical game that can chip in as well.” Said Fragle of the lines Meaver and Ortynski were on in Bonnyville.
The toughest test of the weekend comes against one of the top teams in the Canadian Junior Hockey League Friday against the Oil Barons.
For much of the year, the Oil Barons were ranked number 1 in the CJHL rankings, but thanks to the surging Spruce Grove Saints, the MOB sit at number 2.
“Comparing yourself to the best brings out your best.” Said Fragle of his Friday night opponent.
The 2 teams this season have seemed to bring out the best in each other, with the season series being tied at 1 and both games, although decided by 2 goals, were very tight.
Fragle expects the Oil Barons to come out firing for Friday’s game as Fort McMurray was shutout for the 3rd time this season, as they fell 3-0 to the Drayton Valley Thunder.
Fragle knows his team has to be at its best Friday night.
“We need to play a structured and physical game. I felt last time we played them we made them earn their chances and we have to make them play a hard game. If you give them free chances they will capitalize.”
When that is all said and done, the Crusaders have one more task to complete before getting some R & R for the holiday break, they will travel to Olds Saturday night for their final game against the Grizzlys this season.
The 2 teams previously met back in October and lost a close one, 2-1 and were stymied 35 times by Grizzly Goaltender Jake Tamagi.
“Last time we played them I felt like we out played them but didn't execute offensively, oh and yes we did run into a sharp goalie.” Said Fragle.
The Crusaders will once again be without the services this weekend of Goaltender Tommy Nixon who is serving the remainder of his 4 game suspension he received last week after the game against Camrose. Nixon will be eligible to return to the Crusader lineup January 3rd against the Whitecourt Wolverines. Zac Klassen will make his 3rd straight start while Affiliate Josh Mudryk from Fort Saskatchewan Midgett AAA will be the backup.
Sherwood Park returns after the AJHL’s Christmas break January 3rd, 2014 when they host the Whitecourt Wolverines.