Departures: Zach Dyment (Trade)
There has been one constant the last few years in a realm of unknowns when it comes to training camp for the Sherwood Park Crusaders, and that’s been in Goal with Zac Klassen.
After making the Crusaders three years ago in a surprising fashion out of Minor Midget AAA, Klassen has emerged to be one of the most experienced Goaltenders in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and will undoubtedly be the number one goaltender for the Crusaders heading into the season.
“We will rely on Zac Klassen to be rock solid for us in the pipes this season. He comes in focused & determined to be the number one guy this year.” Says Head Coach Adam Manah.
The fourth year Crusader will look to build off a successful Regular Season in which he saw a career high in Wins, which was tied for seventh in the league with 21, and Save Percentage, .900%. Only four other Goalies, playing a minimum of 25 Games, finished with fewer losses than Klassen who had nine.
“Last year I know that my start wasn’t where I wanted it to be, this year I really recognize what I have to do to have a better start and play more consistent.” Notes Klassen.
Consistency is hard thing to obtain as a Goaltender at the Junior level, and Klassen hopes he has the experience now to become a consistent Goaltender in the AJHL.
“Being my fourth season, I really know what I have to do to get to that next level and I’m just excited to practice at it.” Added Klassen.
The Sherwood Park Native has complete backing and confidence from his Head Coach.
“Zac will look to concentrate on having a good start, being prepared, and handling the work load that will be given to him. We expect him to take the ball and run with it.”
The Crusaders will begin training camp with one Post Secondary committed player on their roster (Tyler Maltby – Arizona State) Klassen is hoping this will be the year he will be able to obtain a scholarship to a program down south, and to do so, the veteran netminder knows team success will help him along the way.
“It goes hand in hand, the better the team plays, makes my job easier, and the better I play it helps the guys stay in games. The more you win, the more you get looked at and that’s just good for everybody on the team.” Said Klassen.
Sherwood Park does find themselves in the same spot as last year when it comes to finding a backup/second Goaltender. Zach Dyment who was acquired last season from Salmon Arm of the BCHL requested a trade back to British Columbia for personal reasons, and was dealt to the Trail Smoke Eaters in the Summer. Dyment was solid in Goal for the Crusaders and the coaching staff will be looking for the very same qualities in a new netminder that Dyment came to the organization with.
“The backup spot is a wide open affair. We will have a lot of talented young goalies in the mix at camp, and it should be interesting to see how it's all going to play out in the end.” Says Manah.
The opening of camp and Exhibition Games will provide a great look at the several candidates looking to crack the Crusaders roster.
“The Exhibition Games always tell you a lot every year. Camp is only the first step, once you get to pre-season the level continues to rise. It should be exciting to see how players will be able to adapt to it all. We want to see who's going to step up, and show us they can earn that second spot on our team.” Notes Manah.
In reality, the same mindset for Goaltenders is really the M.O. for all position battles, and a chance for the players to develop some chemistry.
“For the most part though, you want to see your team coming together as a group and improving each night you play building towards the start of the Regular Season.” Noted Manah.
The Crusaders will open up Training Camp tomorrow starting at 9 AM with off ice fitness testing and the first on ice fitness testing at 1:45 PM. Be sure to check the
Crusaders Website and Social Media for the full Camp schedule including the Black and White Intersquad Game on Mondya the 29th.
The Crusaders’ first Exhibition Game is Wednesday in Camrose against the Kodiaks at 3:00 PM.
-Story By Taylor Medak
photo courtesy of Target Photography