SHERWOOD PARK, AB – This season’s win over the Brooks Bandits at the AJHL showcase was arguably one of the biggest for the team this past year. After various on and off ice personnel changes, the Crusaders had gotten off to a rocky start to 2017. They were going into the game with a 3-4-0 record after shaky performances against the Olds Grizzlys and Spruce Grove Saints in recent weeks. The boys needed this win to hopefully spark some confidence through the lineup.
Coming into the game, the message would’ve been to get off to a fast start. Sherwood Park did just that. Just a little over a minute into the game, Bandits forward Austin Watson took a inference penalty putting the Crusaders on an early powerplay. Brooks paid for that penalty 17 seconds later when Alex Rotundo got one by netminder Tony Rehm.
Unfortunately, the lead only lasted just over a minute, Ocean Wiesblatt put home the pass from David D’Agostino to tie the game. The remainder of the period continued to go against the Crusaders. Brooks went on to score two more goals giving themselves a comfortable 3-1 lead to finish the period.
Despite no goals being scored in the second, the Bandits out played the Crusaders for the full 20. Brooks outshot the Crusaders 15 to 3, luckily for the Cru, Zac Klassen was on his game during that period and able to keep his team in it.
The third period was when the Crusaders really game alive.
Alex Rotundo started the Crusaders off on the comeback train with a shorthanded goal on the Chase Torontow penalty. Not long after, Tyler Maltby tied the game up for the Cru. Whatever Coach Manah said between periods was clearly working.
Before the end, Ocean Wiesblatt gave the Bandits the lead again and got his second of the game.
However, the Crusaders were not done.
With 44 seconds left, Parker Foo took a slashing penalty giving the Crusades a power play opportunity. Now of course, with so little time left Klassen was not in goal for the Cru which gave them a two man advantage rather than one. Foo didn’t even have time to sit down in the box as the Cru capitalized on the odd man opportunity just 6 seconds in. A shot from the point by Ben Sowa was tipped in by Tyler Maltby sending the game to overtime.
Overtime couldn’t break the deadlock. Both teams had their chances, with the Cru even having a power play but unfortunately couldn’t take advantage of it.
During the shootout, Tyler Maltby opened up the scoring in the second round giving the Crusaders a lead. Immediately after, Josh McKechney tied up the shootout meaning that if Alex Rotundo was able to score the Crusaders would win. With the game he was having, Rotundo didn’t disappoint and scored, giving his team a much earned victory.
This performance proved that the Crusaders could compete with anybody. It didn’t start out well for them but the more they pushed the better it got.