Sherwood Park, AB: For the final weekend this season, the Sherwood Park Crusaders opened up a two-game home set with the Grande Prairie Storm. The two teams split last weekends matchups, with Grande Prairie taking home a 4-3 win in a shootout on Friday night, while Sherwood Park bounced back for a 4-1 win on Saturday afternoon. Sherwood Park gave Carson Cherepak his second consecutive start, while the Storm went back to Joe Howe after giving him Saturday off.
The first period saw the most dominant period of the Cohort Series for the Crusaders, as they fired shot after shot at Howe, who stood tall throughout the period, despite having a couple scares off of rebounds. Grande Prairie got an early power play, as Matt Shatsky was given a slashing penalty after only a minute of play, but that was the only sustained zone time the Storm had in the opening frame. Sherwood Park would get a power play of their own when Joe Howe cleared a puck out of play for a delay of game penalty. The Crusaders were unable to beat Howe in the period, despite multiple strong scoring chances, including a Tanner Fincaryk breakaway that just rolled off the end of his stick before he could get a shot off. Shots favoured Sherwood Park after one period, sitting at 10-7.
The second period resulted in significant pushback from the Grande Prairie Storm, as shift after shift was spent in the Crusaders zone. Vincent Scott got called for tripping early in the period, but the Crusaders penalty kill once again stood strong, keeping the game tied. The Storm’s pressure finally broke the Sherwood Park defence, as a quickfire Ethan Strang shot beat Cherepak over the glove to give Grande Prairie a 1-0 lead. This score would remain after the period ended, though both teams were a man short heading into the third. Nolan Wutzke and Connor Casparie dropped the gloves late in the period, and after a good 30 seconds, the two were separated and given an early shower.
The third period was another reversal of the previous period, as Sherwood Park came out flying, looking for the tying goal. Despite having a pair of power plays in the period, Joe Howe stood firm once again, not letting the Crusaders have anything. Sherwood Park pulled the goalie late in the period, but the best scoring chance came off the stick of a Storm player, as Matt Shatsky had to stop a clearance attempt from going into the empty net. After stopping 30 shots, Joe Howe walked away with his first career AJHL shutout, backstopping Grande Prairie to a 1-0 win. Shots ended in favour of the Crusaders, with Howe stopping all 30 he faced, while Carson Cherepak made 23 saves in the loss.
The two teams will close out their season at the Sherwood Park Arena at 4 p.m. on Saturday Afternoon.