May 27th marked the first major move of the 2016/2017 season for the Sherwood Park Crusaders. Weeks after former Crusaders bench boss/GM Tim Fragle resigned and made the move to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, the Cru didn’t look far to find replacements for both positions.
After spending one season as an associate coach with the Cru, Adam Manah was promoted to the position of head coach, while Kyle Chase assumed the mantle of general manager. While both were making their positional debuts in the league, optimism was high following the hires. Both individuals were known around the AJHL for their dedication to the game, and especially the organization.
“(Adam) eats, sleeps and breathes hockey,” said longtime Crusaders broadcaster Taylor Medak. “I've known Adam for many years, and he wants to succeed as badly as he wants to breathe. He is the first guy at the rink and last one to leave. His dedication to coaching is the pinnacle of what other coaches need to strive for; not only to move up the ranks of minor hockey, but to be in the conversation as one of the top bench bosses in the AJHL – which Adam (did) this season.”
Manah, an AJHL veteran of 224 Alberta Junior Hockey League Games with the Fort Saskatchewan Traders and the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, made his presence felt in his first season. The Crusaders 32 wins through the season was only the 5th time in the last 11 years that the team achieved a 30 plus win season.
In addition to the change at bench boss, Kyle Chase was installed as the club’s general manager. From the start, Chase set to improve the Crusaders both on and off the ice.
“We’ve got a bunch of good citizens that are very good hockey players” he said in his first interview as GM. “I’m not amiss to say we’re trying to get better.”
In addition, Chase made several moves throughout the season, bringing in key contributors such as Tanner Younghans and Gage Joel, both of whom earned scholarships following the season. In addition, Chase carried on the Crusaders mantra of recruiting local players, making a huge splash at the CJHL deadline and acquiring Sherwood Park players Cameron Reagan and Jesse Zaharichuk. These moves, in addition to a few others, paced the Crusaders to 4th in the entire AJHL in scoring with 233 goals, the highest the team has placed since 2011-2012 when they finished 3rd.
Medak reflected on the hiring’s at the end of the season.
“”In the time I've worked with the organization, I've worked right alongside Kyle. His devotion to the team and drive for success is second to none; after a year under his belt as GM, the organization is headed in the right direction.”
Moment #2 of the Crusaders Top 20 of 2016/2017 will return next Sunday!
– Story by Spencer Love