Sherwood Park Crusaders (15-12-1) VS Okotoks Oilers (16-7-4)* Saturday December 3rd, 2016 – 7:00 PM
Sherwood Park Crusaders (15-12-1)* VS Brooks Bandits (20-3-3)* Sunday December 4th, 2016 – 2:15 PM
Media: Crusaders Hockey on AJHL WebTV, Bandits Radio Network
*record as of December 2nd
The Sherwood Park Crusaders are looking to build off a big victory Wednesday night against the Grande Prairie Storm, as they host two of the South Division’s best Saturday and Sunday at the Sherwood Park Arena.
It was a night of firsts in the 7-2 Win over the Storm on Wednesday, Sherwood Park and Grande Prairie faced each other for the first time this season, and both Defensemen Brett Roberts and Koletrane Wilson scored their first AJHL Goals.
Wilson’s marker, was a beauty.
“There wasn’t a lot going through my mind, I saw I had some ice so I just started skating. I saw that maybe I could beat the [Storm] Defenseman, and once I did, all I was thinking was get it on net.” Says Wilson on his rush that led to his first Goal.
“In a way it was a monkey off my back, I’m no goal scorer or anything, I focus more on keeping the puck out of our net but obviously everyone wants to get that first one and I’m really happy it happened the way it did.” Added Wilson.
The Crusaders got contributions from uncommon sources in Wednesday’s victory, such as the likes of Wilson, Roberts, Brandon Wallis and the Game Winning Goal from Ryan Rebelato.
Key contributors Ty Readman and Merrit Ozytko had three and four Points respectively, as the second year Crusaders raised their games as Sherwood Park had their two leading scorers absent as Tyler Maltby began serving his five game Suspension and Alex Rotundo left Wednesday’s game after the first Period with an Upper Body Injury.
This weekend the Crusaders will need contributions up and down their lineup as they host the Okotoks Oilers on Saturday and the Brooks Bandits on Sunday afternoon.
Okotoks comes into the weekend with a record of 16-7-4 and 36 Points, sitting third in the Viterra South Division.
The Oilers are led offensively by former Crusader Tanner Laderoute, who has 12 Goals and 14 Assists heading into the weekend.
Okotoks has seen excellent contributions from veterans Trey DeGraaf, 10 Goals and 14 Assists, and Defenseman Jordan Davies with 22 Points, 21 of them Assists.
The Oilers have strong Goaltending as well, Riley Morris has nine Wins, a 2.42 Goals Against Average and a .922 Save Percentage, depending who starts in Goal Friday for Okotoks in Drayton Valley, the Crusaders could be faced with playing a tough Goaltender.
The Oilers took the first meeting of the season between them and the Cru, a 5-3 victory at the AJHL Showcase in Camrose.
Sunday the focus turns to the other team the Crusaders faced at the Showcase, the Brooks Bandits.
Currently tied for first in the Viterra South with the Calgary Canucks at 43 Points heading into the weekend, the Bandits will have ton to play for come Sunday afternoon at the Sherwood Park Arena.
Sherwood Park had a monumental comeback against the Bandits at the Showcase, beating the defending champions 5-4 in a Shootout after the Crusaders tied the game late in the final minute of the third.
Plus, if revenge wasn’t enough for the Bandits, Brooks has failed to win at the Sherwood Park Arena in 11 years.
Generally, what is the best Home Game of the year for the Crusaders at the Sherwood Park Arena, has been the matchup against Brooks. They are the benchmark of success with several league titles and an RBC cup in 2013, all in the last half decade.
“This weekend is going to be another test for our team, both games will be tough. We stole a point from Brooks back at the Showcase, they are going to come out hard. We’ll have to weather the storm.” Notes Wilson on going up against the Bandits.
Sherwood Park will have a few new faces in their lineup this weekend, GM Kyle Chase made two acquisitions on the December 1st Roster Cut Down deadline as he acquired Forward Jesse Zaharichuk from the Drumheller Dragons. Jesse, cousin of Crusader Forward Darcy Zaharichuk, had spent the start of this year with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League.
The Crusaders also bolstered their Blueline by adding Defenseman Cameron Reagan to the fold. Reagan is a veteran of the Western Hockey League, spending time with Kamloops and Prince Albert.
Both acquisitions hail from Sherwood Park.
“We feel we've got a group that can push this year and give us a chance to maybe come out of the North and perhaps the league and we're more than happy having those two players come into our organization.” Noted GM Kyle Chase on the aqcuisitions..
Zaharichuk and Reagan are expected to make their Crusader debuts this weekend.
-Story By Taylor Medak