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Weekend Preview – Crusaders Get First Taste of South

Sherwood Park Crusaders (2-1-0) @ Olds Grizzlys (1-2-0) September 24th, 2016 – 7:00 PM

Media: AJHL WebTV

Sherwood Park Crusaders (2-1-0)* VS Canmore Eagles (2-0-0)* September 26th, 2016 – 2:15 PM

Media: AJHL WebTV

*record as of September 23rd, 2016

In show business there is a saying, “Your next performance can always be better than your last” and through the first week of the 2016-17 AJHL Regular Season, the Sherwood Park Crusaders can certainly attest to that saying after their first three games.

The Crusaders avenged their 6-0 loss on opening night at home with a 5-3 victory the following night against the very same Spruce Grove Saints at the Grant Fuhr Arena in Spruce Grove.

It was a complete turn around Saturday in Spruce as the Crusaders not only generated offense, but were discipline and played in all areas of the ice.  The game saw the Crusaders first Hat Trick of the season, coming off the stick of rookie Forward Arjun Atwal, who along with Merritt Ozytko had four Points in the victory over the Saints.

Sherwood Park would follow up Saturday’s victory with their second straight road win on Wednesday, downing the Lloydminster Bobcats 6-1 in the Border City.

“Since our first game we’ve improved each game.  That was one of our goals at the beginning of the year, to get better each game. 

We learned a lot from the game and in the to games you can tell we are starting to gel.” Says Crusader Forward Tanner Younghans.

The Leduc, AB native scored his first two Goals in a Crusader uniform in Wednesday’s victory after being acquired in the Off Season from the Camrose Kodiaks.

“I love being in Sherwood Park.  It was an easy transition for me since there is such a great group of guys in the dressing room and the way the coaching staff and management welcomed me to the organization.”

Younghans goals came in the second period versus the Bobcats just under four and a half minutes apart and ultimately putting the game out of reach for Lloydminster by going up 5-1.

“It was a real nice feeling getting my first goal in a Crusaders jersey, a big thanks to my linemates in [Matthew] Dykstra and [Alex] Rotundo.”  Added Younghans.

The trio combined for five Points in the 6-1 victory over the Bobcats.

Another group that was able to get the ball rolling point wise was Tyler Maltby and Ty Readman.

Two individuals touted to lead the charge offensively for the Crusaders this season came up empty handed in the opening weekend but put up five Points in Wednesday’s win.

Maltby was able to score two Goals in the first period including the Game Winning Goal at 14:20.

Readman assisted on both Maltby Goals and scored one for himself on the Power Play in the third period.

“It was great to see us go into a tough rink to play in like Lloydminster and come out with two Points.  Getting on the score sheet is a bit of weight off the shoulder.”  Noted Readman.

The attention now this weekend turns to a pair of Viterra South Division foes as Sherwood Park venture downs to Olds Saturday night to take on a Grizzlys team that snapped 19 Game Regular Season losing streak that carried over from last season with a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Canucks last Saturday.

“Olds are always hard working and physical.  All we have to do is be the bigger, more physical team and out work them.”  Says Younghans.

Last season the Grizzlys had the one-two punch of Wyatt Noskey and Chase Olsen who finished top two in AJHL scoring with 83 and 81 Points respectively.

While Noskey is off to College, the Crusaders will have to contain Olsen as a part of their game plan.

Sunday, Sherwood Park returns home for their first afternoon home game of the season as they take on the Canmore Eagles.

The Eagles have started 2-0 heading into Friday as they begin a three in three on the road, starting with Fort McMurray Friday, Spruce Grove Saturday and wrapping things up Sunday afternoon at the Sherwood Park Arena.

Canmore returns their top two scorers from 2015-16 as Matt Forchuk and Logan Ferguson finished a point apart last season with 72 Points apiece.

Forchuk has three Goals and six Points heading into Friday while Ferguson also has three tallies and four Points.

“They were a highly offensive team last year so we have to be smart with the puck and take care of our Defensive Zone.  If we take care of our own end the offense will come.”  Said Younghans on going up against Canmore.

Sherwood Park has had some excellent starts over the past few seasons, picking up Points this weekend will certainly help the team build confidence as they have a tough end to September heading into the Showcase.

-Story By Taylor Medak

photo courtesy of Target Photography