Written with the help of Tony Brar
FINAL SCORE: Sherwood Park Crusaders 3 Camrose Kodiaks 1
Jake Morrissey got the nod tonight for the Crusaders after Klassen allowed seven goals on Wednesday night. Morrissey got called into action early for the Cru, who allowed the Kodiaks to have five shots within the first three minutes. The Crusaders had no response, as their offense seemed out of sync early on. After their first shot, the Cru gained some momentum and eventually found their first goal. The play started with Reagan banging it down the boards to Readman who spotted Maltby across the crease for an easy tap-in, 1-0 Crusaders. Shortly after, both Chase Torontow and Cam Reagan received penalties putting the Kodiaks on a 5 on 3 powerplay. Morrissey may have made the save of his career on the kill. He drove across the face of goal and made a glorious stick save to keep the Cru up 1-0. The glory didn’t last much longer for Morrissey as Reagan struggled to gain control of a bouncing puck which found its way past Morrissey on the near post courtesy of Colin Schmidt, 1-1.
The Crusaders came out with a good start in the second period. Matt Dykstra came flying down the right wing, utilizing his quick release for a quality shot. However, Gora made a great blocker save and was equal to the task. Sherwood Park caught Camrose on their heels, as Coach Adam Manah deployed his top unit for two offensive zone draws. Ty Readman’s skills were on full display as he did a bit of everything but couldn’t find the back of the net. He drew a penalty, as he kept his feet moving but the Crusaders couldn’t muster anything on the Powerplay. Later in the period, however, the Cru found themselves on their third power play of the night and made the Kodiaks pay. Cam Reagon’s point shot went between the wickets of Gora and the Crusaders found themselves up 2-1 with 13:01 left to go in the second period. Camrose countered with some great play after the goal, but Morrissey’s athleticism was giving the Kodiaks trouble, including a great point-blank save off the stick of Nicolas Correale. Crusaders were finding trouble getting out of their zone for about six minutes at the start of the second half of the middle frame. Near the end of the period, Cru’s top line created some momentum with a stellar shift down low and in the corners. They were winning puck battles and coach Adan Manah certainly hopes the Cru can carry that over into the third.
It was a neutral zone battle for the first half of the third. The Crusaders did generate a good number of opportunities in the second half of the period, which gave the team a spark. The third line of Younghans, Oszytko, and Clegg followed up with a couple of great scoring chances for themselves. Camrose did not back down, though, they came at the Cru extremely hard for the last 8 minutes or so putting a lot of pressure on the defense. Jake Morrissey was forced into action early and often in the second half of the frame. The Kodiaks eventually pulled the netminder and that was when the unthinkable happen. The Camrose player passed the puck back to the blueline but passed it right into open space and directly into his own goal. The Crusaders third goal was awarded to no other than netminder Jake Morrissey and holy moly did he ever love it!
This game still wasn’t the greatest performances by the Cru, however, it was significantly better than Wednesday night. Maltby, Readman, and Jesse Zaharichuk were big time players out there tonight, along with their goaltender. It was a hard-earned win for the Cru.
“The effort was gutsy tonight and we give our guys a lot of credit. We had some affiliates in and they played hard tonight. We’re pretty happy that we were able to compete and our work ethic was there. We played a 60 as good as we could,” Coach Adam Manah stated after the game.
- Jake Morrissey had his best performance as a Crusader. He made 32 stops for a .978 save percentage. He also secured the win the Cru tonight with an insurance marker of his own. This performance was a much-needed confidence booster for him. ” We said it in the room after, that’s the first time we can say a goalie had a goal. That’s the first time for me as a coach anyway,” Manah stated. “He was outstanding tonight and that’s what you need out of your goaltender. When we give up one goal, we’re usually winning the game every time. He made the big saves when we needed it,” he added.
- Maltby, Readman, and J. Zaharichuk were excellent tonight. They won puck battles all night long and were involved in both goals tonight for Cru. Readman set up Maltby for the first goal and Zaharichuk assisted Reagan for their second.
- Oszytko made his presence known by finishing all his checks.
- All three of the affiliate players filled the void tonight showing good speed, puck movement, and decision making. Payton McIsaac was once again involved on both ends of the ice. “They’re going to be guys that [will draw] into the lineup next year. We want to continue to build that relationship with them and make sure that they’re continuing to get better and understand our structure. They AP’s did a great job tonight,” Coach Manah said following the win.
- Defensively, the Cru clogged the lanes blocked most shots or making it difficult to shoot.
- The penalty kill killed off three Kodiak power plays, also didn’t allow them to set up often.
- Long stretches of the game where they were outplayed. This happened mostly in the first and second period.
- Took penalties at the wrong time. Reagan got called for cross-checking whilst they already on the penalty kill, Casault also took a penalty when the Cru was just about to go on the powerplay.
- Got pinned in their end for a long time at the back end of the third.
THE TURNING POINT:
When the Crusaders found themselves down two men, Jake Morrissey became the best player on the ice. It’s often said your best penalty killer has to be your goaltender and look no further than #30 on the Cru. Morrissey made an outstanding cross-crease save with the blade of his stick, robbing the Kodiaks of their first Powerplay Goal of the night. The Crusaders went on to kill the 5-on-3 and found themselves on the Powerplay shortly after.
The Crusaders a big matchup this Sunday against the Bonnyville Pontiacs. The game will be taking place at the RJ Lalonde Arena with the puck dropping at 2 pm.
“We’re going to need that same kind of effort as we had today. It’s going to be gutsy and we have to make sure that our effort level is right where it was at tonight. We played with a lot of energy and we competed.” – Adam Manah.