After losing in back-to-back games to Bonnyville and Brooks, the Cru were riding a four-game win streak heading into Sunday afternoon’s matchup with the Whitecourt Wolverines.
The Cru were undefeated in the month of December heading into the matinee putting them back into a tie with Bonnyville at the top of the North Division at 48 points.
With the Pontiacs also in the middle of a Sunday matinee game of their own, coming out with a win became all the more important for the Cru in order to stay in the fight for first place.
The Cru awarded forward Garett Clegg with the player of the month award for November. Clegg scored seven goals in 11 games throughout the month.
Here’s how it went down:
The Cru controlled the first period dominating the offensive zone and out-shooting the Wolverines 14-8 in the opening frame. Despite owning much of the period, the Cru were unable to find the back of the net, however. Between a mix of some sloppy passing and stellar goal-tending by Wolverine’s Ben Rishaug the period ended in a 0-0 tie.
The first half of the period was a disciplined one with the first penalty not coming until halfway through. However, after the cross-checking minor for Whitecourt, three more penalties were called before intermission including two on the Cru in the dying seconds.
Garett Clegg took a roughing minor for taking down Mackenzie Harden of the Wolverines in the corner and piling on top of him despite the play leaving the offensive zone. Then 26 seconds later Michael Bentz took a roughing minor of his own pushing the two-man advantage for Whitecourt into the second period.
Whitecourt opened the second period controlling the pace of play with the five-on-three power play.Luckily for the Cru the advantage did not lead to a goal. Sherwood Park did have trouble staying out of the box however, with Brennan McDonnell taking a roughing penalty early in a scrum in front of his own net.
It was a penalty worth taking in my opinion to set a tone, but the team took three more penalties in the period including a 10-minute misconduct by Michael Bentz. Matt Berlin stood tall not allowing a goal through the second period while the Wolverines found some rhythm getting back into the game. Berlin made two incredible saves, one a stretched-out glove save while on the PK and one an amazing stick save down low on a wide-open shot near the post.
The Cru would finally solve Whitecourt net minder Ben Rishaug just over five minutes into the period when Brayden Hyland sniped one home for the 1-0 lead. Five minutes later the Wolverine’s Joshua Corrow took a cross-checking penalty.
On the power play Michael Benning fed a pass to Carter Savoie who one-timed a shot on net. William Zapernick tipped the shot past Rishaug for the 2-0 lead, one they took into the intermission.
For as good as the Wolverines were in the second period, the Cru took the game and ran away with it in the third. Sherwood Park capitalized after Ethan Green of Whitecourt took a penalty and a game misconduct for hitting William Zapernick from behind. Zapernick was slow to get up but made it to the bench on his own and remained in the game.
On the power play, newly acquired Nick Bowman broke out between both defenders and ended up one-on-one with Rishaug before roofing it over the goaltender’s shoulder for the 3-0 lead.
Whitecourt took another penalty later in the period when Easton Haygarth took a boarding minor and again a game-misconduct. With the man-advantage Garrett Clegg took the puck down low to the corner before cutting back and driving into the slot and sniping it over Rishaug’s shoulder for the 4-0 lead.
Cody Laskosky extended the lead sneaking past two defenders down low and cutting in front of the net and burying it under the pad of Rishaug, glove-side for the 5-0 score and Crusaders win.
The Cru finished with justseven more shots than the Wolverines but after a dominant third period andspectacular performance by Matt Berlin, came out with a win while in a tightrace for first place in the North Division.
- The Cru generated great early pressure and despite Whitecourt finding their way back into the game tempo-wise, were in solid control all game long.
- The Cru ran an efficient power play scoring on three of their six power plays.
- Matt Berlin had an outstanding game turning away every shot he faced for his first shutout of the season.
- With Bonnyville losing their game Sunday afternoon the Cru now move into first place in the North Division with 50 points.
- Nick Bowman scored his fourth goal as a Crusader in just his fifth game since joining the team.
- The team took too many penalties, which seems to be an issue this year.
- The second period continues to be one where the Cru seems to let their foot off the pedal. This was again the one period where Whitecourt looked they had a shot to get back into the game.
- Michael Bentz had a rough day with two penalties and a 10-minute misconduct.
The Cru will look to extend their lead in the division with a rematch on Friday night when the Whitecourt Wolverines return to the Sherwood Park Arena. Puck drop is at 7pm.