This week on #InsideTheCru Tyler Yaremchuk talks about the team being ranked #2 in the country & chats with the highest-scoring 16-year-old in the AJHL, Ty Mueller!
This week on #InsideTheCru Tyler Yaremchuk goes through the teams three wins on Thanksgiving weekend & talks to Brennan McDonnell about his journey from Florida to Sherwood Park.
Currently on a three-game winning streak, the Crusaders welcomed the Drayton Valley Thunder to the Sherwood Park Arena to complete a Thanksgiving weekend homestand. It has been a wildly successful homestand as well. It got started on Friday with a tight, divisional win over the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and followed it up with a 6-2 victory over the Drumheller Dragons.
There’s really been nothing but positives for the Crusaders through the first 12 games of the season. Their schedule has been rather relaxed considering that the only true elite team they’ve played this year is the Okotoks Oilers but you can only beat who they schedule you to play against and the Crusaders haven’t just been doing enough to get two points, on most nights, they’ve been straight up dominating the opposition.
Here’s how things went down this afternoon:
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The Crusaders got off to a flying start this afternoon with a pair of goals within the first three minutes of the game. First, it was the team’s top line of Atwal/Savoie/Zapernick connecting for Zapernick’s ninth goal of the season. Just 20 seconds later they got another one, this time it was Jarred White finding the back of the net.
The first five minutes of this game was straight-up dominated by the home side. The Thunder didn’t manage to get a shot on goal until the 13:30 mark of the opening frame. The Cru would extend their lead one more time with Kaden Bryant jumping on a loose puck in the slot.
After that, the Thunder started to get some momentum back. It started with a powerplay opportunity with about ten minutes to go in the period. They didn’t score but they managed to get some puck possession under their belt and they got on the board shortly after the powerplay expired when Ty Whitford finished off an excellent passing play. The Thunder would get one more back shortly afterwards with rookie Grayson Reid getting his second of the season.
After a dominant start, the Crusaders simply let the Thunder back into this game.
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The goal-scoring dried up a little bit in the second period but the one goal that was scored was an absolute beauty. Carter Savoie scooped up a pass from Ty Mueller and managed to fend off a Drayton Valley Thunder defenseman, who was draped all over him, drag the puck past an Eric Ward poke check attempt, and slide a backhander in along the ice.
From there, things started to get pretty heated. These two teams combined for 54 penalty minutes in the period with 42 of them being handed out with just over three minutes remaining after Davis Murray ran over Thunder goalie Eric Ward and sparked a pretty major melee.
Once things cooled down, and the blood got scraped off the ice (literally) play resumed and the Crusaders were able to run out the clock and head back into the room with their two-goal lead in-tact.
After a very eventful middle frame, these two teams delivered a rather boring final period, which is probably exactly what Crusaders Head Coach Adam Manah wanted. They didn’t allow very many if any, high-danger chances for the majority of the period and really just kept the puck away from Carter Gylander as much as possible.
The Cru would add to their lead when Ty Mueller fired home a wrister, his third point of the game. Drayton Valley would capitalize on a powerplay with just over two minutes to go to make it a 5-3 game. Jarred White also threw one more home, his second of the game, in the final minute of the game to make it 6-3 for the Cru. That’s how things would end as the Crusaders win their fourth in a row and improve to 12-1-0 on the season.
- The top-line continues to be productive but today they got a couple of goals from lower in their lineup. If this team is going to push for a title, they’ll need to keep getting contributions from everyone on their roster.
- Carter Savoie continued his strong draft year with a beautiful goal to extend his goal-scoring streak to a league-high ten games. The only game he hasn’t scored in was the team’s second win of the season against Lloydminster.
- Carter Gylander didn’t have to make too many great saves, but he was solid tonight. He’s finding a consistent groove and I feel like these last two games have been his best two-game stretch of the season.
- I often forget that Ty Mueller is just 16-years-old. He plays such a smooth, steady game. You rarely see him make a mistake and I’m sure the Crusaders are hoping that a good offensive performance helps him get a little bit more confident with the puck on his stick. I think he has the potential to be one of the best players in the league within the next 12-18 months.
- The hot start to the game was great to see, but you could tell they took their foot off the gas a little bit after they went up 3-0. They’ve blown out a few teams this year and it felt like they thought this was just going to turn into ‘point-night’.
- The two big momentum-changing moments from a Drayton Valley perspective came after the Crusaders gave them looks on the powerplay. The Crusaders penalty kill has been good and while it didn’t allow a goal today, it did allow the Thunder to gain some steam.
The Crusaders will have the next three days off before heading up to Fort McMurray for a weekend set against the Oil Barons. It’s been a bit of a rough start to the year for the new-look Oil Barons who sit sixth in the North Division with a 4-7-1 record but they did play the Crusaders pretty tightly this past Friday so I’m expecting a pair of close games next weekend at the Casman Centre in Fort Mac.
The Sherwood Park Crusaders welcome the Drumheller Dragons to the Sherwood Park Arena for game two of a three-game homestand this long weekend. Both teams played Friday night, with Sherwood Park in a close(ish) battle with Fort McMurray. The Cru came out on top with a 4-3 win.
Meanwhile, Drumheller lost at home 5-3 to the Okotoks Oilers. The Dragons currently sit third in the South at 6-3-2. Sherwood Park sits atop the North with a 10-1-0 record.
Carter Gylander gets the start for the Cru, giving Jordan Frey a night off. The Detroit Red Wings prospect had a rough start to the season, he’s undefeated at 6-0, however his save percentage wasn’t so hot to start the year, it is improving though.
At the other end of the rink, Cale Elder has the opposite problem. His save percentage has been dropping with every game this season. Friday night he posted a 5.14 GAA and a 0.843 save percentage in the loss to Okotoks.
The Cru came out flying to start the first, they definitely don’t look tired from Friday’s matchup. A lot of crisp passes and smooth zone entries. Sherwood Park played solid in their own end as well, limiting Drumheller’s chances. The Dragons weren’t doing themselves any favours though, with some sloppy play in their own end.
11 minutes in Nicholas Magis opened the scoring for his second goal of the year, with the feed from Tanner Fincaryk.
Drumheller went on the powerplay immediately after that with an interference call on William Zapernick, which turned into a brief 5 on 3 after a tripping call on Michael Benning. Gylander made a couple of great stops to keep Sherwood Park up by one.
The Cru’s second line got on the board to make it 2-0, with Ty Mueller finding the back of the net with two minutes left in the first. Jarred White and Jacob Franczak with the assists.
Just 30 seconds later Carter Savoie made it 3-0 for the Crusaders, William Zapernick and defenseman Reid Irwin with the helpers on that one.
Sherwood Park went on the powerplay to end the opening frame, they’ll start the second with 1:39 left on the man advantage. It looks like it could be a long night for Drumheller, the Crusaders end the first up 3-0.
The Crusaders had one decent chance on the PP, but so did Drumheller. They rang one off the post for a near short hander. But Drumheller took a high sticking penalty to give the good guys 26 seconds of a 5 on 3.
Some awesome puck movement by the Cru, and a handful of shots on net, but Cale Elder made several stunning saves to keep the Dragons in it.
Some shoving after the whistle in front of Sherwood Park’s net put the Crusaders back on the man advantage, but no luck for the Cru.
The Dragons had a brief breakaway, but that was broken up with a trip by Reid Irwin. Drumheller quickly took advantage on the powerplay, with a blast from the point by Eric Martin, with assists from Shane Ott, and Derrick Budz.
Things started to get chippy as the second period started to wind down.
After a trip by William Zapernick, Drumheller made it 3-2 on another point shot on the powerplay, this time from Roc Truman, helpers from Eric Martin, and Kaden Hanas.
Bryce Bader put Drumheller back on the man advantage with a cross-check and Arjun Atwal got 10-minutes after some words with the officials, but the Dragons couldn’t capitalize.
Another scrum in front of the visitors’ net led to misconduct calls for Sherwood Park’s Nicholas Magis and Drumheller’s Kent Anderson. Ty Mueller landed a huge hit at centre ice to cap off a physical second period.
Sherwood Park leads 3-2 heading into the third.
Sherwood Park started the final period on the powerplay after a Drumheller penalty to end the second, and it didn’t take long for them to convert. A little over 30 seconds in, the Cru gave themselves some breathing room with a blast from Carter Savoie, his second goal on the night. Michael Benning and Ty Mueller with the assists. 4-2 Crusaders.
A trip by Drumheller put the Cru back on the powerplay. Ty Mueller quickly put a huge rebound into an open net after the initial shot from Reid Irwin, Jarred White also had an assist on the play.
Before they even finished announcing the last goal, Jacob Franczak scored to give Sherwood Park a comfy 6-2 lead. Tanner Fincaryk with the lone assist.
A nasty hit from behind by Drumheller’s Steven Zonnevald gave the home team another 5 on 3 powerplay, Joel Patsey also got a roughing call on the play. Sherwood Park reacted which also sent Nicholas Magis to the sin bin, but the Cru didn’t add to their lead.
Once again, more rough stuff after the whistle in front of Carter Gylander. Drumheller’s leading scorer Kaden Hanas was given a misconduct after punching a Crusader in the face. Kobe Mohr also got a two for roughing after the whistle, to give the Crusaders another powerplay.
Michael Benning broke his stick in a shot attempt and raced back to the bench to grab another. He gave up as Drumheller heading into the offensive zone, without a stick Michael Benning broke up the play beautifully.
The Cru’s Davis Murray and Drumheller’s Grayson Dietrich both received misconducts with just 12 seconds left in the game, after more pushing and shoving after the whistle.
The Crusaders take home another win, with a final score of 6-2.
- The Crusaders penalty kill remains strong despite giving up two powerplay goals.
- Passing, especially on the powerplay, continues to be strong great puck movement from the powerplay units. A ton of great breakouts from the defensive zone as well.
- Carter Gylander looked great, making a ton of great stops to keep the Cru up, especially on the penalty kill. He finished the night with 31 saves on 33 shots.
- Michael Benning only had one assist on the night, but he made some awesome defensive plays. That one in the third without his stick was glorious.
- Ty Mueller had two goals and a helper, which earned him the first star on the night.
- Sherwood Park took way too many penalties, especially in retaliation and roughing after the whistle. They have a strong PK but they’ll need more discipline against stronger teams.
- The Cru’s leading scorer, Arjun Atwal, took himself out of the game with a 10-minute major for mouthing off to a ref. It was still a close game, not a wise move to take yourself out of it.
The Sherwood Park Crusaders wrap up their three-game homestand holiday Monday versus the Drayton Valley Thunder, puck drop is at 2:15 pm at the Sherwood Park Arena.
The Sherwood Park Crusaders kick off a three-game homestand over the Thanksgiving long weekend, starting Friday night versus the lowly Fort McMurray Oil Barons. Fort Mac comes into the game with a record of 3-5-1, they split a two-game homestand with the Spruce Grove Saints last weekend.
This week on #InsideTheCru Tyler Yaremchuk breaks down the Crusaders weekend road trip & talks to rookie forward Nick Magis.
This week on #InsideTheCru Tyler Yaremchuk recaps a highly successful first month of the season for the Sherwood Park Crusaders & talks with AJHL Player of the Month Carter Savoie.
I don’t think the Sherwood Park Crusaders could have dreamt up a better start to the season than they just had. Through one month of play, the Crusaders are 7-0 and have been winning rather decisively.
They got the year going on home ice with a 7-5 victory over the Lloydminster Bobcats and from there, they defeated the Bobcats once again, the Thunder, the Wolverines, and the Oil Barons by a combined score of 19-6.
From there, they went on the AJHL Showcase in Camrose and put their dominance on display in front of the entire league. They kicked off the weekend with a 6-3 win over the Drumheller Dragons and then capped off their Showcase with a thrilling 6-5 victory over the Okotoks Oilers.
Even though they’re ranked 2nd in the CJHL, you could make an argument that the Sherwood Park Crusaders are still not at their best. Carter Gylander has had a tough start to the season posting a 3.55 GAA to go with an 0.855 SV%. Even Gylander himself would likely admit that he was not his best in September. You can’t blame him either. He was in Russia with Team AJHL and didn’t see any game action during the JCWC. The fact that he came to camp late, after spending time overseas, and not playing a game is a good enough reason to cut Gylander a lot of slack. He’ll be better as the season continues.
Jordan Frey has picked up the slack though. He’s started his Crusaders career with three wins in three starts, one shutout, a 1.50 GAA, and a 0.915 SV%. He was dynamite, and for me, he’s been the biggest surprise on this roster through seven games.
Here are some other storylines from the first month of play:
Go to www.AJHL.ca and click on the “League Leaders” link. A page will pop up that shows you who has scored the most points in the entire league so far this season. The first three names are all members of the Sherwood Park Crusaders’ top line.
Simply put: Arjun Atwal, Carter Savoie, and Will Zapernick have been virtually unstoppable through seven games. The trio has combined for 53 points through their first seven games. That’s a staggeringly good number.
I said at the beginning of the season that if this trio played together, they would be the highest-scoring line in the AJHL. They’re living up to the hype, and right now, I can’t see a scenario where Adam Manah would want to break them up.
Their top line is scoring, but they’re also getting contributions from the back end. Michael Benning is over a point-per-game, and Brennan McDonnell has four points in seven games. Upfront, Jarred White and Jacon Franczak have provided the secondary scoring. Both players are over a point-per-game. Getting that depth scoring is what will help later in the year and into the playoffs, and it’s something I’ll be keeping a close eye on as we roll through the season.
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They have not allowed a powerplay goal so far this season. Their PK is a 29-for-29. To me, that is a testament to how much these players are willing to fight for each other and how much they’ve bought into what Adam Manah and Jeff Woywitka are preaching.
The powerplay was ice cold to start the season, but they’ve since found their groove, and now they have the best powerplay percentage in the league (28.13%). When they were struggling, Head Coach, Adam Manah told me that it was simply some guys gripping their sticks too tight and some guys just not being in mid-season form yet with the puck on their stick. He was right not to be concerned. That group is too talented to not get hot with the man advantage at some point. Now it’s a matter of them staying hot and proving they can consistently be good.
GM Kyle Chase was busy in September, as he often is, and added a pair of former WHL players to a forward core that was already one of the deepest in the league.
Blake Sydlowski was brought in after being released by the Red Deer Rebels, and while he hasn’t registered a point quite yet, I think he’ll be an impact player by the end of the season. Same with Davis Murray. The Former Oil King has only appeared in two games with the Cru, but I liked him during his time in the WHL. Once these two get acclimated to the AJHL, I think they’ll start to stand out.
PLAYER OF THE MONTH
It absolutely has to be Arjun Atwal. The Crusaders Captain leads the league in scoring and got some recognition from the league, being named the Offensive Player of the Week.
I loved the decision to make Atwal the team Captain. I think he’s an excellent leader both on and off the ice. This month, he’s been their leader on the scoresheet as well. His offensive production is outstanding, and what I love about Atwal is even if the offence dries up (which I doubt it will) he’s still a guy who won’t change his game. He’s solid at both ends of the rink, and honestly, I think he’s the heartbeat of this team.
If you want to hear more from Arjun, you can listen to my interview with him on ‘Inside The AJHL’ HERE.
LOOKING AT OCTOBER
The Crusaders will take to the ice 12 times this month (5-home & 7-away) starting with a three-game southern road trip that will see them take on the Canmore Eagles, Okotoks Oilers, and Olds Grizzlies. From there, they will return home for three straight games (Fort McMurray, Drumheller, Drayton Valley).
One thing that jumps off the page to me: four matchups against the Oil Barons. We saw these two clubs develop a bit of a rivalry last season and there were some heated moments in their first game of the season earlier this month. For the full schedule, HEAD HERE: https://admin.esportsdesk.com/leagues/schedules.cfm?selectedMonth=10&selectedYear=2019&selectedTeamID=536976&selectedOfficialID=0&leagueID=3464&clientID=1705&embedLID=3464&embedCID=1705&whichSched=main&mixed=1&teamID=536976
The Crusaders are off to a great start to the 2019/20 campaign. Tyler Yaremchuk breaks it all down and chats with goaltender Jordan Frey in this weeks episode of #InsideTheCru
The last time these two teams met was on March 24, 2019. It was game six of the second round of the AJHL playoffs and not only did the Crusaders win the game 5-3 but they eliminated the Fort McMurray Oil Barons from the playoffs.
It capped off a series that saw the two teams score 33 and rack up a combined 246 penalty minutes. It was high flying and skilled hockey but it was clear that these two teams did not like each other one bit.
So heading into tonight, I was expecting more of the same. Lots of offensive chances and lots of extracurricular activities, if you know what I mean. Here’s how things went down from the SPA:
The Crusaders came out flying in the opening frame. Head Coach Adam Manah had his top line of William Zapernick, Arjun Atwal, and Carter Savoie, who combined for 11 points last night in the win over Whitecourt, and tonight that trio got off to a solid start. They possessed the puck in the Oil Barons zone for almost the entire first shift and immediately after they came off the ice, the Cru got their first grade ‘A’ scoring chance courtesy of Brett Weischorster.
The Cru peppered ten first period shots at Oil Barons goalie Evan Fradette but he turned them all aside. Fort Mac was able to muster just three shots at Jordan Frey, who got the start in lieu of Carter Gylander (it was scheduled before Gylander was pulled in last nights win), and the first-year Crusader handled them all with ease.
We went into the second period with the scoreboard showing a pair of zeros.
There was a lot of late hits in the first period, which was just each team trying to establish some sort of physical dominance, but nothing too over the top. The second period was more of the same. Each time was trying to play a physical brand of hockey, but there was nothing I would classify as ‘dirty’.
Carter Savoie got the Crusaders first good looks of the period, but he was stopped on back-to-back partial breakaways. Jarred White also got two great looks but he was also stopped. My biggest takeaway from the first few minutes of this period was that Fradette was absolutely locked in.
The home side would eventually strike first when Jarred White and Arjun Atwal perfectly executed a shorthanded two-man breakaway which resulted in White firing home his first goal against his former team. The lead was short-lived as Logan Bromhead jumped on a loose puck and flipped it over a sprawled out Jordan Frey.
With under five minutes to go in the period, the Crusaders were gifted a five-on-three powerplay and they took full advantage. First, it was Michael Benning blasting a bomb from the point and then just seconds after, Carter Savoie let go of a one-timer from the bottom of the circle and made this a 3-1 game.
For the second straight game, the Crusaders entered the third period with a lead and for the second straight game, they did a fantastic job of protecting the lead.
They pushed the pace offensively while not taking any risks that would put their two-goal lead in jeopardy. Daron Cyr almost popped home his first career AJHL goal but rang it off the iron. The Cru also got another look on the powerplay but didn’t capitalize.
Emotionally, things never got as tense as they did during the playoffs last year… until the 14:05 mark of the third period when a scramble in front of the MOB net suddenly turned into a little bit of a melee. Brett Weischorster was naturally right in the middle of it and when he was led out of the scrum, he was fired up and so was the Crusaders bench. He was promptly tossed from the game along with Jacob Franczak and Oil Barons forward Hunter Lamb (son of former Oiler Mark Lamb).
44 penalty minutes were handed out on the play and the result was two minutes of five-on-three followed by a three-minute man advantage for the MOB (that eventually turned into a six-on-three advantage), which the Crusaders promptly killed off.
Will Zapernick would fire home an empty-netter and that would do it from the SPA on a Saturday night. The Crusaders played the most complete game I’ve seen from them this season and improved their record to 5-0 to start the 2019/20 campaign. 4-1 the final.
- I know I talk about them a lot in these wraps, but it is special to cover a team that has two high-end draft-eligible players. Savoie and Benning were the best players on the ice from the first period onwards. Watching those two work the powerplay was incredible and when they’re clicking, they simply cannot be stopped.
- In his first game against his former club, I though Jarred White looked very good. He brought a solid physical element, as he always does, and had four or five high-quality looks in the offensive zone. Was nice to see him get a goal as well.
- Jordan Frey continues to impress me. In over four periods of work this weekend, he surrendered just one goal. Having two good goaltenders was a massive reason why the Cru finished first in the North Division last season and if Frey can keep this up, it will make life much easier for Head Coach Adam Manah and company.
- There were a couple of questionable hits throughout the game and the refs called them all. Credit to the Crusaders for not retaliating and negating a powerplay. Knowing how to walk the line of discipline can be the difference on a lot of nights. It’s an important trait to have.
- Coming into tonight, only the Crusaders and Olds Grizzlies had perfect penalty kills. Based on what I saw tonight, the recipe for success for Sherwood Park appears to be aggressiveness. They pour on the pressure and don’t let their opposition get comfortable at any point. They looked good tonight and got rewarded with a shorthanded goal.
- Their powerplay was running at just over 8% so far this season so it was nice to see them get rewarded with a pair of goals. They’ve looked good for the most part this season but just haven’t been able to score. “Gripping the sticks too tight” is what Adam Manah said to me earlier this week on Inside The Cru and now that they have some goals under their belt, I’m thinking things will start to snowball.
- Brennan McDonnell didn’t show up on the scoresheet, but he had a really solid game in my opinion. He broke up a handful of good rushes and made some smart plays. I liked him in both games this weekend.
- They had a lot of offensive chances in the first half of the game and they simply couldn’t bury them. Would have been nice for them to jump out and grab the lead earlier than they did.
- I didn’t win the 50/50 (it was a tough night to find things to put in this section of the wrap up).
The Crusaders get some time to rest up now and enjoy their perfect start to the season. They’ll be back in action on Thursday when they take on the Drumheller Dragons at the ‘AJHL Showcase’ in Camrose. Puck drop is set for 4:30 pm.s