Bonnyville, AB: Bonnyville and Sherwood Park are used to seeing each other by now, as the AJHL’s cohorts have paired them together for the four previous games and at least the next three, so as the game got going, it followed a similar trajectory. Carson Cherepak once again got the start for the Crusaders, his fourth since the restart. On the other side, Easton Hesse returned to the lineup after missing the last three games. Hesse beat the Crusaders in the first matchup of the restart.
The first period saw an evenly matched, close checking game, with a few rushes now and then. With both sides so familiar with each other, different plays had to be made by different players in order to break the sides apart. Loeden Schaufler made one of those plays when he made a move to get inside the Pontiacs blueline. He fired a quick shot that handcuffed Hesse, who had been sharp early on. Evan Arnold pounced on the rebound to fire the puck past Hesse for his first AJHL goal and break the deadlock and give Sherwood Park the lead after 20 minutes of play. Bonnyville led in the shot department, with 15 to the Crusaders 12.
The second period was much of the same, as both goalies played well throughout the game. Sherwood Park got an early one to increase their lead as James Gibson took a pass on a 3-on-2 rush and beat Hesse five-hole to give the Crusaders a 2-0 lead. Bonnyville pushed to g find a goal before the intermission, and they got it with just over five minutes left in the period. Alex Power took a nice pass from Ethan Sundar and ripped it past Cherepak to give the Pontiacs some life heading into the third. Momentum shifted in this period when Nick Magis and AJ Macauley dropped the gloves shortly before the Pontiacs goal. Shots were even in the period at 17 apiece.
The third saw a Bonnyville team looking to avoid dropping their fourth consecutive game and a Crusaders team that has grown comfortable playing with the lead. Sherwood Park couldn’t capitalize on an early period powerplay but took advantage of a mid-period man advantage. Austin Saint took his third penalty of the game, and Ty Mueller looked off Hesse on the half wall and beat him short side to extend the Crusader lead to two once again. Bonnyville pressed for the two goals they needed, but the puck wouldn’t settle down for them with the net empty, and Mueller scored his second into an empty net to ice this one. Sherwood Park wins this one by a score of 4-1.
Carson Cherepak made 45 saves for the win, while Easton Hesse stopped 33 in the loss.
The two teams are back at it at the Sherwood Park Arena next Friday, at 7 p.m.
By Zach Marks