SHERWOOD PARK AB – A major task to be accomplished in the summer of 2016 was naming the captain of the 2016/17 Sherwood Park Crusaders. With 2015/2016 captain Brett McGee committing to the NAIT Ooks, the Crusaders found themselves searching for a leader on the drive to the Viterra playoffs.
Prior to the season starting, the captaincy was handed to veteran defenceman Ben Sowa, who was entering his fourth year as a Crusader. In the previous year, Sowa hit career highs in every offensive category, wrapping up the season with 12 goals, 25 assists, and 37 points.
“Ben is a very vocal kid”, assistant coach Jeff Woywitka expressed, “he takes the game seriously; I thought he played great and kept getting better as the season went on”.
With a multitude of offseason changes, the Crusaders were unable to start hot out of the gate; Sowa’s tenure as captain began with a .500 start after their first 10 games, which included a two-game suspension to start the season due to some rough play in the previous season’s playoffs. However, once the suspension was lifted, Sowa’s leadership became evident. His first goal as captain came in a loss against the Drayton Valley Thunder; while a losing effort, the game inspired the beginning of the Crusaders 20-8-1 run that catapulted them into contention for home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
Sowa went on to lead his Crusaders to a 5th place finish in the Viterra North division and 32 wins on the season. Unfortunately for Sowa and the Crusaders, the dream of lifting the Gas Drive AJHL Championship was cut short after a first round knock out courtesy of the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
He finished up his season as captain with 11 goals and 43 points in 55 games, eclipsing his previously set best of 37 points. In addition to statistical success, Sowa joined exclusive company during the season, playing his 200th career AJHL game, all with the Crusaders. As well, Sowa was awarded the Defenceman of the Year trophy alongside his longtime teammate Chase Torontow.
“I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Ben,” remarked Spencer Love, marketing and media director for the Cru. “His dedication to the organization and teammates is exactly what any hockey player or coach should look for in a captain. It’s a cliche, but he was always the last guy off the ice at practice; he’d always take the time to work on the little things. It’s pretty evident that he’s passionate about the Crusaders and hockey in general; you don’t play 200 junior games with one team if you don’t.”
Thank you for all the time and effort you have put into this organisation Ben. We appreciate everything you’ve done for us and we hope to see you around the rink in the future!
Stay tuned, Crusaders fans, as we look back on Moment #4 next Sunday!
– Story by Liam Horrobin