When the Sherwood Park Crusaders were eliminated in the 2nd round of the Gas Drive Cup playoffs last year, it was thought that Andrew Taverner played his last game as a Crusader. The Quinnipiac University recruit had only registered 1 goal in last year’s post season.
Not the way Andrew wanted to end his AJHL career.
That was then, and now, Andrew finds himself returning to the Cru for one final season after preparing all summer for the NCAA.
“This summer was all about getting bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter so that I would be prepared for Quinnipiac. But when I found out that I would be staying it gives me a second chance to really show this league what I am made out of. Last game of last season I was disappointed in my play and with my play throughout the playoffs, granted I was injured, I feel that I am going to be able to have the breakout season that I wanted and want to make sure that my last game and season with the Crusaders will be remembered.” Taverner says.
The Edmonton native is also his toughest critic, and does not let the injuries from last season be a crutch on his production in the post season.
“…I was hurt but if you look at professional players they find a way to play extremely well even through injury. I felt like I did not have the right mindset going into those games as I was getting tons of opportunities to be a difference maker and I didn’t rise to the occasion. This year I want to make sure to stay positive and not get down when the shots are not going in the net and keep a positive outlook and focus on the things I can control rather than the things I can not.”
And so far this early hockey season, the shots were going in for Taverner during the Pre Season. Not only has Taverner attributed his Pre Season success to hard work but also his comfort level in making decisions.
“When you play in the AJHL for as long as I have you realize that your amount of time you have to make decisions and plays is much greater than commonly interpreted in my earlier AJHL career. It is through this experience and hard work over the summer that I have felt very comfortable and solid through my pre season play. “
Taverner is one of eight returning Forwards for the Crusaders this season, and Arthur Gordon is also one of those returning Forwards.
Gordon and Taverner played together and generated success this Pre Season.
“Arthur and I have played with each other before the Crusaders and played together last year, when the timing was right, and I feel very confident with him along the left sideboards. Our styles of play really allow us to flourish through our individual strengths and help each other where we are flawed, we just get where we both are on the ice and it is nice that you don’t have to worry about what the other guy is doing. Obviously we are far from the perfect line but we have had a great start this year and plan to keep growing as the year progresses.” Taverner spoke of his play with Gordon.
If history can repeat itself for Taverner, this year statistically could be very positive for the 18 year old. Since Bantam, in Taverner’s final year at each level, he has put up staggering numbers. That could only boast well for the Crusaders.
“I have had success in the past in my final years of every league and yes I would truly like to make my mark on this league. But whether that be through points or team play I want to leave the AJHL being known as one of the toughest competitors and hardest working players in the league.”
And as for the team…
“The team is shaping up really well the veterans from last year are a very close and I know that through this core leadership group the Crusaders will be the hardest working, tight knit group in the AJHL. The rookies have really shown themselves in the preseason and are going to be a huge part of the team chemistry this year.”
In Taverner’s time with the Crusaders, the team has not made it past the 2nd round. Taverner isn’t shorting himself or his team when it comes to where he would like to end up at the finish of the AJHL’s Regular Season.
“I think the goal for any team is to win the league championship and then take it step by step from there until the RBC [Cup]. In reality though, over my past two years the Crusader organization has found trouble getting to the third round. The north is a very peculiar conference though as all the teams are tough and hard working and that leaves room for anyone with a winning mentality to take the north in the playoffs. This year we have a real positive outlook and I don’t like to guess on the future but my aspirations for this team are much higher than the second round.”
Andrew and the rest of his Crusaders begin the 2013-14 Regular Season Friday September 6th in Whitecourt to take on the Wolverines.