Thunder experience takes over in Crusaders exhibition loss

Sherwood Park, AB:  The Sherwood Park Crusaders were back on the ice last night at the Randy Rosen Rink. Their evening opponents were the Drayton Valley Thunder. The team they were supposed to play in the second round of the 2019/20 postseason before COVID-19 halted the season.

Sherwood Park iced a young lineup with five 06’s taking the ice. Only Evan Arnold, Zac Maxwell, Ashton McNelly, Kevin Minnoch, and Carson Cherepak had junior hockey experience for the Crusaders. While on the other side, the Thunder had already made cuts to their lineup, which forced them to dress a more experienced team.

The first period was a tight one, with the Crusaders having a better chance. Josh Rule rang one of the posts early, and the team generated a few good chances on their power plays. However, in the second period, the Thunder’s experience took over.

A few minor mistakes led to Drayton Valley jumping out to a quick 3-0 to start the period. Grayson Reid, Colton Schmidt, and Tyler Blocha all scored within the first five minutes of the period forcing Head Coach Adam Manah to call a timeout. The Crusaders struggled to generate much the rest of the period, while Drayton Valley scored one more from Reid.

The final period was much closer, but the Crusaders couldn’t find a way to beat Jari Kykkanen, who finished the game with a 29 save shutout. Hayden Fechner scored one more to Drayton Valley to make it a 5-0 final.

The Sherwood Park GMC Buick player of the game went to 2006 defenceman Tristen Doyle who created numerous chances of the rush and looked very comfortable as an 06 out there.

Next up, the Crusaders take on the Whitecourt Wolverines at the Randy Rosen Rink. Puck drops at 7:00 p.m and all tickets are $5 at the door.