The Cru were riding a four-game win streak and looking to stay undefeated in the month of October when they hosted the Fort McMurray Oil Barons on Sunday afternoon from the Sherwood Park Arena.
Through their four wins in October, the Crusaders have outscored their opponents 23-5 and saw themselves in third place in the North Division at 7-2-2.
The crowd at the Sherwood Park Arena wasn’t a big one, but they got right into the game at puck drop and stayed on the edge of their seats for a tense game!
Here’s how it went down:
The first period jumped out to a fast-paced start, with tonnes of physicality from both sides. The Cru had a golden chance to score early, with a Fort McMurray giveaway from behind their own net. Arjun Atwal had a shot all alone in front but just missed it wide.
Things opened with a steady flow, with the first whistle coming 3:40 in due to a Cru penalty on William Zapernick for hooking. The Oil Barons showed great passing on the power play totalling three shots, but Matt Berlin stood tall in net for the Cru making a blocker save on a shot blasted from the point.
The rough and chippy play continued throughout the period with a total of 9 penalties in the opening frame.
The Cru would get on the board first on the power play 12 minutes into the period. Carter Savoie would burry one over a sprawled-out Chris Curr who faced a flurry of shots on the play.
After Garrett Clegg took a holding penalty, Fort McMurray would tie the game three minutes later with a powerplay goal of their own. Konrad Belcourt would net one with just under four minutes left in the period for the 1-1 tie.
The Barons would score again with 53 seconds left in the period when Kole Gable tipped one past Berlin off the shot from Ryan Conroy for the 2-1 lead. They would take the lead into the first intermission.
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Fort McMurray opened the second period with pressure as they owned most of the frame. They outshot the Cru 14-13. The physicality and roughness continued into the middle frame of play, with a total of five penalties.
As the Barons took control, things went from bad to worse for the Crusaders as Carter Savoie went down behind the Barons’ net with what looked like a leg injury. After being looked at by the trainers, Savoie would be helped off the ice by teammates Tyler Jette and Erik Miller.
Fortunately for the Cru, Savoie would return to the ice later in the period.
The Crusaders would then tie the game six minutes into the second. Garrett Clegg took the puck from the front of the net and sniped it past Curr for the power play goal and the 2-2 tie.
It didn’t last long as Fort McMurray took the lead back five minutes later. Jarred White would bury the rebound, blocker-side off a shot from Sean McCloskey for the 3-2 Barons lead.
The Cru was gifted another shot in front of the Barons net after a giveaway, but Tyson Scott could not capitalize while all alone in front. The Cru played a sloppy second period, and it showed with a 3-2 Barons lead after two.
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Things tightened up in the third period for the Cru as they came out with some good intensity while eliminating the sloppy play that plagued them in the second. Tyson Scott would get another great chance to tie the game early with a wide-open net but pushed the puck against the post.
Things finally turned the Crusaders way after Fort McMurray took too many men on the ice penalty. Carter Savoie took a pass from Zapernick down low and sniped it over the shoulder of Curr tying the game at three.
Both teams ramped up the energy as the period died down and despite a flurry of chances, neither team could find the back of the net forcing the game to OT.
The Cru took control in 3-on-3 overtime. Carter Savoie had a shot with Chris Curr down on his stomach but just couldn’t elevate the puck to put it in the net. Garrett Clegg then had an opportunity to end the game while cycling in front of the Barons net but rang it off the post.
Savoie would then escape on a breakaway but couldn’t bury it, however, did draw a hooking penalty on Taner Miller. The remaining two minutes came and went with the Cru unable to capitalize on the man-advantage sending the game to a shootout.
After the first four shooters were unsuccessful in the shootout, Arjun Atwal snuck one through the five-hole of Curr giving the Cru the lead. Liam Izyk had a final shot for Fort McMurray, but Matt Berlin made the pad save winning the game for the Cru 4-3.
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- Carter Savoie returned to the game after what looked like a devastating injury. The team’s second-leading scorer, the Cru could not afford to lose him long-term, or even short-term as he netted the tying goal in the third period.
- Matt Berlin made 36 saves on 39 shots and came up huge for his team late in the game and the shootout. The Cru themselves were able to put up 44 shots.
- Sherwood Park found a way to tighten things up late and play some really solid hockey in the third period and overtime. They dominated the play in OT and took control to win.
- The Cru remains undefeated in October now winning five in a row and improving to 8-2-2 on the year.
- The Cru took many penalties. The game was physical and intense, but penalties gave Fort MacMurray too many opportunities to come out with the win.
- The Cru started out with some great momentum in the first period but fell asleep in the middle frame and allowed the Barons to catch up and take the lead.
- A very sloppy second period almost cost the Cru the game. Bad passing and mental mistakes resulted in turnovers and gave up too many chances to the other side.
- Too many missed opportunities. There had to be at least three or four chances where the Cru could have easily scored, putting the game away earlier.
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The Cru will hit the road while trying to keep the winning streak alive! They take on the Lloydminster Bobcats on Wednesday in an early game, with puck drop set for 12 pm from the Centennial Civic Centre Arena.