It has surely been one of the most interesting Playoffs in recent memory for the Sherwood Park Crusaders. In the 1st round the Crusaders were getting the bounces, the last second goals and everything going in their favor. In the 2nd Round, along with their opponent, have yet to win a game on Home ice. Their Power Play has been fantastic but the Spruce Grove Saints has been that much better in the North Division Semi-Final series that is tied at 2.
Discipline will be key for the Crusaders going into Game 5 and beyond against the Saints. But penalties are going to happen and Sherwood Park will have to be a little stronger when they are a man down. Clearing pucks when there is an opportunity to, because there may only be one chance, good sticks in lanes will be integral as well for success on the Penalty Kill.
The Saints were able to claw back into this series, after being down 2 games, via the Power Play. 8 of their 10 goals have come on the Power Play. The Crusaders have been carrying the play Even Strength, out scoring Spruce Grove 7-2 in the 4 games of this Best of 7 series. If the Crusaders can continue to produce 5 on 5 and limit the Saints on the Power Play, it could be all that is needed to break the 2-2 series tie in Game 5.
Another key ingredient that has proven success for both teams in 3 of the 4 games has been the ability to get out to a 2 goal lead. When both Sherwood Park and Spruce Grove has been able to pull ahead by 2 goals in a game, that team has gone on to win. Needless to say, neither team can fall behind.
For the players to watch in Game 5, the main one for the Crusaders will be Saints Forward Carson Samoridny. The 19 year old has 3 Goals and 4 Points in this series, all 3 goals from Samoridny have been on the Power Play. Defenseman Brandon Hickey made an impact in Game 4 after missing Game 3 with an Injury.
For the Saints they will look to slow down the line of Arthur Gordon, Ryan Kruper and Daniel Wray. The trio has combined for 8 points in the series. 21 year old Cotlen Meaver is another individual the Saints will have to try and cool off. The AJHL veteran has points in 3 of the 4 Games this series. Spruce Grove has done a good job on the Crusaders leading scorers from the regular season, Nicholas Jones, Sean MacTavish and Andrew Taverner have combined for only a single point in the last 2 games. If the Crusaders are to be successful they will need contributions from those 3.
The battle between the pipes has been interesting. Crusaders Netminder Tommy Nixon has been the busiest Goaltender in this series. Nixon has a .930 Save Percentage in the series and has made 132 saves versus the Saints.
The Crusaders only have 81 shots total in this series.
The Saints have had to ice 2 different starters in Goal in this series. Kenny Cameron who was injured in Game 2, was replaced by rookie Taner McCorriston. McCorriston has only seen 61 shots in 2 plus games with a Save Percentage of .885. The Crusaders will need to get more pucks and traffic to the Saints net.
No matter what happens in Game 5, there will be a Game 6 and it will be Sunday at the Sherwood Park Arena at 7:00 PM. One team in that game will need to win to force a Game 7. Game 7 if necessary will be on Tuesday March 25th in Spruce Grove.