There is nothing better in the game of Hockey or even sports, than a Game 7. Tuesday night in Spruce Grove, the Crusaders and Saints will close another chapter in their Cross-Town Rivalry.
The 2014 North Division Semi Finals between these 2 clubs has been one for the ages. 4, 1 goal games including 2 Overtime victories for the Crusaders. It also has been a weird one as well, the road teams are a combined 6 and 0 in this series. Sherwood Park will hope to make it a clean sweep for the visiting teams in this series with a victory Tuesday night.
In order to do so, the Crusaders will need to show up for 60 minutes. Something they were unable to do in Game 6 at the Sherwood Park Arena. Spruce Grove played like a team that was facing elimination.
The Crusaders can build off some positives from the 5-3 Game 6 loss however, and bring them into Game 7.
Sherwood Park scored the games 1st goal late in the 1st period and went into the 2nd period in control. The Crusaders were also able to keep the Saints Power Play at bay as Spruce Grove went 0 for 4 with the Man Advantage. Sherwood Park was even able to draw penalties while shorthanded.
A few things Sherwood Park will need to work on for Game 7 will be their awareness. Many times in Game 6 the Crusaders became too puck focused and failed to pick up their men, especially in the Defensive Zone. All series the Crusaders had been good at defending the Saints and really forcing them to earn their goals.
On the offensive side of thing for the Crusaders, the formula is simple, pucks to the net, but more importantly capitalizing on their chances. In the first 40 minutes of Game 6 Sherwood Park had only 11 shots and 2 goals, going even deeper, they only had 4 shots after the 1st period and 1 goal. Saints Goaltender Kenny Cameron was fairly untested in Game 6 as he made his return from injury, Sherwood Park will need to make life difficult for Cameron and keep him busy if they want to come out victorious.
In terms of individuals, Caleb Belter led the way offensively for Sherwood Park in Game 6 but it wasn’t enough. Andrew Taverner finished the scoring in Game 6 with a Power Play goal, but ended his night with a spirited fight and some alleviation of frustration against Saint’s Austin Hunter. Taverner will look to take out that frustration even further with a big game against the Saints. All Post Season, the Quinnipiac commit has scored timely goals for the Crusaders. Nicholas Jones was unable to carry over his magic from Game 5 into Game 6 and with the 17 year old trying to raise his draft stock for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, we should see Jones at his best in Game 7. One top player of the Crusaders that has been notably quiet is Sean MacTavish, finishing 4th in scoring in the Regular Season, MacTavish only has 3 Points in this series and 1 point in the last 4 games. The Crusaders will hope Sean can rekindle some of the offensive output he had in the Regular Season.
Crusaders Coach Tim Fragle has repeatedly said that depth wins you games in the playoffs. Sherwood Park has seen timely goals and effort from the line of Arthur Gordon, Ryan Kruper and Daniel Wray in this series, the Crusaders should be successful if that trio is playing at its best.
Ultimately, Game 7 will go to the team that is mentally strongest and makes the fewest mistakes. Sherwood Park has played with those attributes all Playoffs while on the road and hopefully the Crusaders can encompass all the right things they’ve been doing on the road this Post Season and put forth their best effort of the Season in Game 7 in Spruce Grove.