The Sherwood Park Crusaders kick off a three-game homestand over the Thanksgiving long weekend, starting Friday night versus the lowly Fort McMurray Oil Barons. Fort Mac comes into the game with a record of 3-5-1, they split a two-game homestand with the Spruce Grove Saints last weekend.
Earlier in the week, the Barons picked up Hunter Leslie from Olds, he did not dress for tonight’s matchup.
Rookie Evan Fradette has put up some good numbers so far this year. The Oil Barons goaltender comes into tonight’s game with a GAA of 2.38, and he’s third in the league with a save percentage of 0.931.
The Cru continues to soar having won nine of ten games to start the season. Their first loss of the year came last Saturday in Okotoks versus the Oilers. With their top line of Arjun Atwal, Carter Savoie, and William Zapernick leading the AJHL in scoring, this will be a tough test for Fort Mac’s rookie between the pipes.
It took a couple of minutes for the Cru to settle in, with a few sloppy plays in an attempt to exit their own zone. Thankfully, Fort McMurray couldn’t capitalize, but where they weren’t making shots the Oil Barons were landing decent hits.
Sherwood Park went on the power play, the league’s best at home at 37.5%, after a slashing penalty by Luke Harvie. They couldn’t find the back of the net though, with their best opportunity coming from a wicked one-timer by Michael Benning that ringed off the crossbar.
They got a second crack with the man advantage, after a high stick from Michael Hodge, but again the Cru were unsuccessful.
Third time’s the charm for Sherwood Park. Layne Sniher took a slashing penalty with just a few minutes left in the opening frame. William Zapernick scored after a feed from Michael Benning and Carter Savoie, to make it 1-0 for the good guys. Great timing as well, Fort McMurray was gaining steam, with six shots and a couple of nice looks in just a few minutes.
The Cru were back on the attack to start the second, registering their first shot driving to the net just 20 seconds in. They had their second goal quickly after that. Carter Savoie made it 2-0 with a nice backhand less than two minutes in, Michael Benning had the helper.
Some shoving and a couple of fists thrown, after Jacob Franczak was boarded by Ryan Conroy of the Barons. Davis Murray and Bryce Bader jumped in to defend their buddy. Franczak spent a few moments down on the ice but skated off under his own power.
A ton of penalties after that play, Bryce Bader received a 10-minute misconduct, Davis Murray got 5 for fighting, plus 10 and a game. For Fort McMurray, Ryan Conroy received a two-minute boarding call plus a 10-minute misconduct and Konrad Belcourt got a fighting major, another 10 and a game misconduct.
Carter Savoie got his second of the game on the ensuing power play, to make it 3-0 for Sherwood Park. Michael Benning had his third assist on the goal, Arjun Atwal also had an assist.
The Cru poured on the pressure, but Fort Mac finally got on the board with about a minute left, on just their second shot of the period. Hunter Lamb scored, assisted by Brendan Stafford, and Alec Johnson. Sherwood Park did not give the Barons many opportunities to even enter their zone, but Fort Mac did capitalize.
Sherwood Park heads into the final frame up 3-1.
Fort McMurray came out very physical, banging bodies to open the third, but again they struggled to get the puck out of their own zone.
The Cru’s top line took advantage of some sloppy play, Arjun Atwal scored with assists from William Zapernick, and Carter Savoie to make it 4-2 for the Cru.
Zapernick got an unsportsmanlike call following the goal (maybe don’t scream in your opponent’s face for your celly next time) to send Fort McMurray on the powerplay. They capitalized with a top-shelf snipe from Tyler Wallace off a pass from Brendan Stafford, the shot actually knocked the water bottle off the net and broke it on the ice.
The officials missed a call after Arjun Atwal was brought down from behind at centre ice, that led to a goal by Ty Budai assisted by Luke Harvie. Bringing the Oil Barons to 4-3 with less than three minutes to play, but Sherwood Park held on for a 4-3 victory.
- Passes tonight looked so crisp, a ton of great puck movement, everything was tape to tape, I haven’t seen these guys play in a year but I was impressed.
- Carter Savoie had a four-point night, with a pair of goals and two assists
- The Crusaders remain perfect at home on the penalty kill, the powerplay looked good as well with two more powerplay goals (the Cru also lead the league at home when it comes to PP)
- Michael Benning was great on the blue line with three helpers
- Good to see Davis Murray and Bryce Bader stick up for Jacob Franczak
- Despite not ending up on the score sheet I thought the second line of Jacob Franczak, Ty Mueller, and Jarred White look awesome, they were flying out there.
- Fort McMurray was able to capitalize on the few chances they had, they finished the game with just 17 shots, but still scored three goals.
- Don’t give up foolish penalties like celebrating in another guy’s face, also maybe a little more discipline a couple of man-advantage opportunities were given up due to offsetting penalties.
The Crusaders are back at it again Saturday at home to the Drumheller Dragons. Puck drop is at 7:00 pm at the Sherwood Park Arena.