Weekend Preview

Sherwood Park Crusaders (15-6-1) VS Bonnyville Pontiacs (14-7-3) November 13th, 2015 – 7:00 PM

Media: AJHL Web TV

Sherwood Park Crusaders (15-6-1)* VS Lloydminster Bobcats (19-4-0)* November 14th, 2015 – 7:00 PM

*Record as of November 13th

Media: AJHL Web TV

The last three weeks for the Sherwood Park Cursaders have been quite the ride.  The team is 9-0-1 in their last ten games and arguably the hottest team in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

“We’ve been sticking to our game plan and getting contributions from all of our players.”  Says Crusaders GM and Head Coach Tim Fragle.

The Crusaders have notoriously struggled the last few seasons in the October and November months but a strong buy in from the players has led to success in the second quarter of the 2015-2016 Regular Season.

“The buy in to sticking to the game plan and our team depth has allowed us to be successful than in years past.”  Echoed Fragle.

The most recent success came Wednesday night in Drayton Valley against the Thunder by a score of 6-5, but it wasn’t all butterflies and roses in the eyes of Coach Fragle.

“We were awful in the first period!  The second was much better.  Once we scored to go up 5-3 we got away from the plan and let them back in the game.”

Amidst the inconsistency one Crusader shined above everyone else, Brett Van Os scored four goals in the game.  It marked the first time since a Crusader scored four goals in one game back on October 15th, 2013 when Nicholas Jones scored four goals in a 5-1 win against the Calgary Mustangs.

Van Os’ four goals is a byproduct of the Crusaders depth this season as Fragle as four lines he can roll at anytime and giving opponents fits when trying to achieve the right matchup.

“Yes its hard to get a matchup when you have four lines contributing offensively.”  Says Fragle.

To extend their point streak they’ll have to battle two extremely good teams this weekend.  The Crusaders are definitely the favorite over the Bonnyville Pontiacs but can’t take them lightly.  Sherwood Park is 3-0 versus Bonnyville this year and has seen some excellent efforts in those games winning by at least 4-1 twice.

“We’ve had good third periods, sticking to the game plan and good team defense have been key in our games against them.”  Added Fragle.

The Crusaders have gotten some excellent Goaltending as well from Zach Dyment.  One thing to look for is to see how Coach Fragle handles the Goalie situation.  If history is an indication, Dyment should get the start against the Pontiacs and Klassen getting the nod Saturday night against the Bobcats after picking up the 5-1 victory last week in Lloydminster.

The Crusaders will have to deal with a ton of talent once again from the Pontiacs, Forward Bobby McMann is second in league scoring with 30 Points heading into Friday night’s action and first in the AJHL with 18 Goals but has yet to score against the Crusaders this season.  The Colgate commit is also listed as day to day with an upper body injury.

In addition to McMann the Crusaders will look to contain reigning AJHL Player of The Month, Defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk, who is also among the tops in AJHL scoring.

“We need to make him earn his opportunities plus limit his time and space.”  Says Fragle on the matchup against Pasichnuk.

The weekend doesn’t get any easier as the Crusaders take on the Lloydminster Bobcats for the fourth time this season.  They are 1-2 against the RBC Cup hosts but won their first game against them exactly a week ago in the Border city.  A change of venue should provide added advantage.

“We are always excited to play at home and we look forward to challenging two of the league’s best teams this weekend.”  Noted Fragle.

Sherwood Park has played decent against the Bobcats in the three games in Lloydminster this season, but the results didn’t show other than the most recent victory against the Bobcats.  Technically it is a case of the team improving each game and ultimately coming up with a win last week.

“We need to be discipline, have excellent team defense and sticking to our game plan for 60 minutes.”  Says Fragle on going up against the Bobcats.

It’s undoubtedly the toughest weekend so far for the Crusaders as they face two of the top five teams in the Viterra North Division with a combined record of 14-4-2 in their last ten games.

Players to watch:  For the Crusaders, it will be interesting to see if Brett Van Os can continue the goal scoring after potting four in Wednesday’s victory, Tyler Maltby is two goals behind with 16 of Bobby McMann’s league leading 18, a chance to prove that Maltby is the best goal scorer in the league is some the Sherwood Park Native will be look to amalgamate, Defenseman Chase Torontow has four points in his last five games…For the Pontiacs, if Bobby McMann does play it will be an excellent matchup of the leagues two top goal scorers and Brinson Pasichnuk will be interesting to see,  the Pontiacs are no stranger to having high scoring defenseman, former Pontiac Ryan Black was able to have some success against the Crusaders in years past…Saturday the Bobcats have a slew of talent, Goaltender Alex Leclerc will look to rebound after his last meeting with the Crusaders, a 5-1 loss,  the Bobcats have a balanced scoring attack led by veteran Kevin Darrar with 11 Goals and 21 Points, Morgan Messenger has 10 Goals as well.

-Story By Taylor Medak