The Cru was looking to start February off in the win column, welcoming the Grande Prairie Storm to the Sherwood Park Arena. They came into the game losing 4 of their last 6 but were coming in off a 5-2 win over Drumheller from the previous weekend.
The stretch of up and down hockey put the Cru in second place in the North Division, three points behind Bonnyville so picking up another two points in this one would be crucial in wanting to jump back into the division lead. Garrett Clegg and Carter Savoie came into the game Friday night both in the top 6 in scoring with 59 and 58 points respectively.
They looked to keep the scoring going on the way to helping their team get the month started in the right direction heading into the down stretch. Before the game, Jacob Franczak was awarded the player of the month for January.
Here’s how it went down!
The scoring started early for the Cru and did not stop. They piled on the offensive pressure all period long putting up 11 shots on Storm goaltender Lars Kaliel. Brennan McDonnell opened to scoring, banging in a rebound after a two-on-one from Arjun Atwal and Zach Kaiser.
A few minutes later Jack Hamly sniped one in from the slot after Carter Savoie dished him a beautiful pass from the corner, making it 2-0 Cru. With seven minutes left in the period, the lead was extended after Jarin Sutton of Grande Prairie took a tripping penalty. Early into the power play, Michael Benning blasted a shot from the blue line that was tipped in by William Zapernick for the 3-0 lead.
The scoring did not end with just under five minutes left in the period when Savoie broke out on a two-on-one with Hamly. Savoie continued to show great hands with another beautiful pass, this time a saucer over the defenders stick to Hamly who buried his second of the game for the 4-0 lead, one they took into the intermission.
While the Cru scored four goals in the first period, they easily could have had more with numerous breakouts and scoring chances that missed the net.
While the Cru was able to total 11 shots in the first Grande Prairie stayed close with 10 of their own. That slim margin carried over to the second for the Storm as they were able to make a dent early finally. First Bryce Osepchuk buried one down low for the first goal of the game for GP. Shortly after They continued to pepper shots on Cru goaltender Matt Berlin, who stood tall until Storm captain Connor Blake found the back of the net to cut the lead in half at 4-2.
The Cru took it right back, however, when Zach Kaiser scored to push the lead back out to 5-2 for the Cru. The scoring continued for both teams as just under halfway through the second Zachary Okabe buried a rebound low for the Storm trimming the lead back down to two and the 5-3 Cru lead.
The period wasn’t just filled with goals but also penalties with a total of eight in the frame. Some rough stuff towards the end of the period in front of the Cru net resulted in a roughing penalty to players on both sides. Before the third intermission, the Cru was able to double up on their lead when Tanner Fincaryk batted a floating puck in for the 6-3 lead after two.
The trends continued into the third period as both teams continued to take penalties and trade goals. After Jayden Platz took a roughing penalty, the Storm got on the board when Okabe snuck one past Berlin blocker-side for his second goal of the game bringing the score down to 6-4.
But just two minutes later the Cru once again took that goal back when Carter Savoie took the puck around the net and out front burying the backhand shot past Kaliel pushing the lead back out to three and the 7-4 lead. They would add one more with around five minutes left in the game with yet another two-on-one. William Zapernick tapped in a nice cross-ice pass from Arjun Atwal for Zapernick’s second of the game.
That proved to be the dagger in the spirit of Grande Prairie with an eighth and final goal for the Cru and the 8-4 victory keeping them in the hunt for first place in the North Division.
- The Cru generated a tonne of offence early and often creating several scoring chances one after the other.
- Even when the Storm would find their way back into the game a goal the Cru always seemed to find a way to match them with one of their own.
- Matt Berlin let in four goals, but he did face a significant amount of shots and made the big save when his team needed him to.
- The Cru totalled a massive 43 shots on net and didn’t hesitate to shoot the puck when they had the opportunity.
- The power play was extremely effective for the Cru. They displayed great passing on each man-advantage even if it didn’t always lead to a goal.
- The Cru had plenty of scoring chances and two-on-ones as mentioned in the Ups, but they couldn’t capitalize on some great opportunities. Eight goals is a great offensive showing, but they easily could have had 12 or 13.
- The second period did seem to belong to the Storm early on with three quick goals. The second period has been a bit of thorn in the side of the Cru this year and is still something that needs fixing.
- Too many penalties. Both teams took a bunch of them, but the Cru took a total of eight penalties on the night.
The Cru will look to make it three wins in a row when they hit the road to take on the Drayton Valley Thunder on Saturday from the Drayton Valley Omniplex. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. With Brooks also coming out with a win Friday night the Cru will need to keep the wins coming to keep pace.