Weekend Preview – Home and Home VS Whitecourt

Sherwood Park Crusaders (18-14-1) @ Whitecourt Wolverines (24-8-4) Friday December 16th, 2016 – 7:30 PM

Media: AJHL WebTV; Wolverines Radio Network

Sherwood Park Crusaders (18-14-1)* VS Whitecourt Wolverines (24-8-4)* Saturday December 17th, 2016 – 7:00 PM

Media: Crusaders Hockey on AJHL WebTV

*record as of December 16th, 2016

The Sherwood Park Crusaders picked up two valuable Points with a 5-3 victory Wednesday night over the Drayton Valley Thunder, moving their record to 18-4-1 with 37 Points in the fifth spot of the Viterra North Division.

The win should provide momentum as they head into a crucial home and home weekend series with the Whitecourt Wolverines who sit a top of the North Division, beginning Friday in Whitecourt.

Sherwood Park got back to their old ways, in terms of scoring, as Forward Tyler Maltby returned from his five game suspension and made up for lost time as he contributed three Points, two of them Goals.

“It felt awesome getting back out there.  I had been waiting a couple weeks but felt extremely excited.”  Said Maltby on his return.
The AJHL’s leading Goal scorer was reuinited with linemates Arjun Atwal and Alex Rotundo, the trio combined for eight Points in the victory over the Thunder.

“Arjun (Atwal), Alex (Rotundo) and I jelled quickly and found the success we had before I left.  It was fun and I’m glad to be back.”  Added Maltby.

Not only did the Crusaders regain that flare courtesy of Maltby, Rotundo and Atwal, but the also got timely scoring in the victory over Drayton Valley, courtesy of Defenseman and Captain Ben Sowa, who had his second multi Goal game of the season.

“It’s great to score, but even better that the team picked up two Points.”  Says Sowa.

The Crusaders definitely rebounded Wednesday night, after dropping a 5-1 decision to the Brooks Bandits on the weekend.

“We should be feeling confident and ready to play as we have the team to compete and beat any opponent on any night.”  Added Sowa.

And the Crusaders do have that capability to do such a thing, when they want to.

Just look back to the November 12th game against the Wolverines.  Whitecourt held top spot in the North at the time and were torched for four Goals in the first period.  The Crusaders ultimately ended up wining 8-5.

“Whitecourt is obviously the team to beat in the North, I feel we matchup well against them and can come out from the weekend with four Points.”  Notes Sowa.

Once again the Wolverines hold the top spot in the division heading into this weekend but Sherwood Park will have to play in Whitecourt, a building that wasn’t too friendly to them earlier in the year when they dropped a 7-3 decision to the Wolverines on October 4th.

“It’s no secret they are the top in the league but we are a different team now, and I think on paper no one is better than us.  It’s about buying in to the team system and having a team first mentality.”  States Maltby.

“We have to be physical on them and push the pace as team, use our speed and get pucks on net.”  Added the power Forward.

A big key against Whitecourt has always been the ability to stay out of the Penalty Box, further to that, killing off Penalties.  The Crusaders have allowed three Goals on eight Power Play opportunities in two game this season against Whitecourt.

“As long as we stay discipline and our Power Play can catch fire, we’ll be successful.”  Said Sowa on the Special Teams battle.

Sherwood Park can make some noise this weekend if they are able to sweep the two games.  But they will be dealing with a team that has gone 6-3-1 in their last 10 and sports a league best 15-3-2 record at the Scott Safety Centre. 

They’ll also have to deal with a trio of Wolverines amidst Point streaks.  Jaedon Leslie, Justin Young have Points in five straight games, including a five Game Goal scoring streak for Jaedon Leslie.  Reigning CanAlta Hotels Player of The Week, Liam Motley is riding a four game streak and had nine Points in three Games last week for Whitecourt.

Sherwood Park will certainly have their hands full, but the matchups against the Wolverines are usually nothing short of electric.

-Story By Taylor Medak