This year’s pre-season action for the AJHL opens up in the city of Camrose at the Encana Arena.
The Sherwood Park Crusaders saw their first action Wednesday, August 29, against the Drumheller Dragons.
What started as a slow physical game took a quick turn when Drumheller Dragon, Ethan McKibbin, took a penalty in the first 5 minutes.
As time expired on the penalty Sherwood Park Crusaders defensemen Aiden Yakimchuk corralled a loose pass before looking off a shot, waiting off the defenders and dishing it down low to a wide-open Tanner Fincaryk. Sherwood park would draw one more penalty in the period and would not capitalize again.
The Cru weren’t able to muster a single shot on either power-play. They had difficulty entering the offensive zone on both man advantages. while throwing pucks on net, they would either miss wide or hit a body from the cluster in front of the net.
It was all Drumheller from that point, a bad turnover from an attempted pass by Kevin Minnoch would nearly result in a goal before Minnoch would eventually take a slash to stop the scoring opportunity.
Drumheller took a man-advantage late with rookie Kevin Minnoch taking a slashing penalty with 2:51 left in the period. The Dragons worked the umbrella beautifully only having the puck leave the offensive zone once, early.
Goaltender Carter Gylander would face a barrage of shots in the period for the Cru but kept the door closed as the period ended with the shots 11-4 for Drumheller, Sherwood Park holding onto a one-goal lead.
After the first was essentially controlled by Drumheller, the Crusaders came out energized and took momentum, scoring twice in the first five and half minutes of the second period.
The first goal came off the stick of Ethan Kopyczyn, who walked into the zone and fired a wrist shot, glove side. Kopcyzn walked into the zone on a three-on-none as a result of Dawson Bruneski tripping over the puck.
The second Crusaders goal and third in the game came on the PP. It was Sherwood Parks’ first shot in three chances on the man advantage. Cru defensemen Jared Brock fired a wrist shot from the point that was deflected down and in by Brandon Wallis.
Drumheller would not shy away and went back to the style that kept them in it in the first period by playing physical. Dragons forward Ethan McKibbin would blow up, Crusaders, Fincaryk on a charge that was not called.
As the tension boiled over, the Cru became trapped in their own zone and defensemen Langley Kruggel would find himself in the box for roughing at the 9:30 mark.
Drumheller working the puck around the perimeter would score, after a failed one-timer by Hassam Akl would find its way to Brett Edwards who wired past a screened Carter Gylander. Closing the gap to just two goals.
Drumheller started the third period on the power-play with Tanner Fincaryk still in the box but despite getting three shots off would not find the back of the net. Two minutes later the Dragons luck would change, when a laser pass from Derrick Budz would find Dawson Bruneski wide open behind the Sherwood Park D for a goal.
That wasn’t all for Drumheller either, after a failed attempt to get it out of the zone by Crusaders defensemen Kevin Minnoch the Dragons would cycle the puck around before Hassam Akl would tie it up.
Drumheller, once again, wasn’t done with scoring, netting another two goals less than a minute apart. Scott Truman scored the first off the rush and then an impressive show of hands by Shane Ott that would find the back of the net making it 5-3 within a span of minutes for Drumheller, after starting the period down 3-1.
The Crusaders would pull their goal with 2:30 left before a bad turnover by Fincaryk lead to an empty net goal making it 6-3
The Cru showed plenty of resiliency though.
Brayden Hyland would score a goal 10 seconds later with Gylander still in net AND once more 16 seconds later to bring to Cru within one.
That would be as close as they got, however, after two bad icings back to back would kill off the little remaining time on the clock, sealing the win for Drumheller 6-5.
- Before defence failed him in the end, goalie Carter Gylander was having a monster start, bailing out Sherwood Park in each of the first two periods. He stopped a total of 28 shots.
- Defensemen Aiden Yakimchuk was easily one of the best players out on the ice in front of Gylander, Drumheller found it hard to get any offence going while he was on the ice but the same can’t be said for his teammates.
- Shooting % was at a premium for the Crusaders who scored on 5 of their 17 shots
- Brayden Hyland would score 2 goals in the last two minutes to bring the Cru within one
- Rookie players for the CRU looked like rookie players with the exception of Vincent Scott
- Completely dominated in the third period after having momentum in the second.
- Blew a 3-0 lead, before losing 6-5
Sherwood Parks plays host Camrose Kodiaks at 3:30 at the Encana Arena