Sherwood Park Crusaders (4-5-0) @ Canmore Eagles (4-3-1) October 7th, 2016 – 7:00 PM
Media: AJHL WebTV
Sherwood Park Crusaders (4-5-0)* @ Calgary Canucks (6-2-1)* October 8th, 2016 -4:45 PM
Media: AJHL WebTV
It’s been a shaky start to the month of October for the Sherwood Park Crusaders, they narrowly came back against the Brooks Bandits last weekend and were out classed Tuesday night in Whitecourt against the Wolverines, 7-3 in those two teams’ first meetings of the season.
“There was a lot of things that contributed to the loss Tuesday. We struggled matching their speed, we didn't compete hard enough to win enough puck battles, and we just had some breakdowns in our own end that resulted in goals.” Says Crusader Head Coach Adam Manah.
At 4-5-0 the Crusaders have been a Jekyll & Hyde team to start the year.
At times, they’ve looked like the class of the leagues, with a dominating wins in Lloydminster and against Canmore, but then the results against Spruce Grove at home and Tuesday night in Whitecourt put away that notion, for now.
So what’s missing in Sherwood Park’s game?
“Right now I wouldn't say there is one big thing that's lacking in our game. It's a number of things we need to address. We don't sustain enough O-Zone time due to lack of winning battles in the corner. Our third man high isn't in a good position to be a scoring threat, and be in a defensive position. We aren't making very good reads on when to be aggressive and pinch and when not to.
That's resulting in too many odd man rushes, and too many scoring chances against. Lastly, we are cheating in our zone to get up the ice and that's resulting in turnovers and having to play more defense than we should.” Notes Manah.
It's been a few days of practice, and the Crusaders are hoping to correct those problems against a team they defeated only a few weeks ago at the Sherwood Park Arena.
It was a 6-2 victory over the Canmore Eagles, one of the more dominating efforts in the four wins Sherwood Park has obtained so far this season. The skeptics might say the Crusaders got lucky with taking on the Eagles in their third Game in two and a half days, but
Coach Manah says they Eagles gave the Cru their best effort.
“We don't expect to see a different team on Friday. We know they have good speed up front with a lot of guys that can put the puck in the net, and a pretty potent PP. We'll be challenged to match their speed, and win the special teams game against them.”
Sherwood Park will be challenged with dealing with the reigning AJHL Player of The Month, Matt Forchuk. The Okotok, AB product had one Assist in that Game, but will look to impose the will of his five Goal and eight Assist performance for the month of September.
The Crusaders will also have to deal with the reigning CanAlta Hotels AJHL Player of The Week, held to zero Points against the Crusaders, Colby Livingstone is on fire with four Goals and Five Assists.
Sherwood Park will need to be aware of those and much more on Friday night.
Saturday the attention shifts to the feel good story of 2016-17 so far, next to Fort McMurray of course, the Calgary Canucks head into the first full weekend of October a top of the Viterra South Division. With new bench boss James Poole at the helm (previously with Okotoks)
A storied program that has seen it’s struggles the last decade plus, is trying to return to the prowess it’s achieved in the past with nine league titles.
“They will be another real tough test for us Saturday. They are off to a hot start, and again we know they have a lot of guys that can put the puck in the net up front. They have exceptional goaltending, and they are the real deal early on in the season. We'll have our work cut out for us in what will be another real good challenge for us.” Said Manah.
Of note, the Crusaders made a trade during the week. Sending 1996 Born Forward Cole Chorney to the Calgary Mustangs for 1996 born Forward Anthony Orubor, the Calgary, AB Native appeared in seven Games for the Mustangs so far this season and scored 14 Goals with 21 Assists last season with the Mustangs.
Orubor adds size to an already large Crusader lineup.
-Story By Taylor Medak