The Crusaders took to the ice in front of their home crowd with a chance to finish off the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and advance to the third round of the AJHL Playoffs. When I spoke to Head Coach Adam Manah earlier this week, he described the first four games of this series as an absolute war and I would have to agree with him. These two teams have clearly been trying to get under each other’s skin all series and even Manah admitted that both sides have probably crossed the line a few times. For a full recap of the first four games of the series, you can listen to my interview with the Crusaders Head Coach HERE.
Every playoff game is obviously massive, so it seems redundant to say that both teams were desperate for a win but tonight the pressure was ramped up more than it was in any other game in the series. Fort McMurray is battling to keep their season alive and while a loss for the Crusaders would not have been the end of the world, it would force them to go back up to Fort Mac for a sixth game which is far from ideal.
The teams wouldn’t need any extra motivation but for the Cru, I can imagine it felt nice to skate out to what I believe is their largest crowd in years. The first five minutes of the game, in front of a near capacity crowd, would be massive.