The Cru has been on fire over the last three or four weeks while remaining undefeated through October. Heading into their matchup Saturday night against the Spruce Grove Saints, the Crusaders were riding a seven-game win streak and looked to keep the loss column empty with only four games left in the month.
Both teams played an exciting game the night prior, with the Cru coming back from a 3-1 first-period deficit to win 4-3 eventually. That win made this game all the more important with the Saints now two points behind the Cru in second place in the North Division.
Saturday night was also Pink the Rink night at the Sherwood Park Arena with the Cru wearing speciality jerseys with pink trim in support of breast cancer awareness.
Here’s how it went down:
The Saints opened the first period with a tonne of pressure as the Cru couldn’t generate a shot until almost five minutes into the opening frame. Things balanced out as the period went on, and the Cru created some scoring chances.
Brett Wieschorster took off on a breakaway with a Sprue Grove defender on his back but couldn’t capitalize with Matthew Davis making a tremendous save for the Saints. Another scoring chance came for the Cru a few minutes later with Carter Savoie down low on a 2-on-1, but again they couldn’t bury it.
Brayden Hyland took a penalty and game misconduct for boarding behind the Spruce Grove net. The Saints would strike quickly on the power play with Nick Leyer sneaking one past Matt Berlin for the 1-0 lead.
The Saints carried that lead into the intermission despite being outshot by the Cru 12-7 in the period. Both teams brought an intensity into the period that would set up a much-anticipated second.
Despite the first period intensity, the second period was a quiet one with neither team being able to score a goal. The Saints dominated the period putting up 16 shots to the Cru’s 8. Both teams broke out on a 2-on-1 chance early in the period, but neither resulted in a goal.
The Cru displayed some sloppy neutral zone play turning the puck over allowing Spruce Grove to develop opportunity after opportunity. When the Crusaders were able to enter the offensive zone, they couldn’t hold it in for long, whether it be a missed chance or a turnover.
The one plus side for Sherwood Park in the middle frame was their goaltender. Matt Berlin stood on his head stopping all 16 shots he faced, with most of them being quality scoring chances.
Matt Bentz took a cross-checking penalty late in the period that would carry over to the third with the 1-0 Spruce Grove lead.
Unfortunately for the Cru things went from bad to worse for them in the final frame. Carter Savoie and Garrett Clegg broke out on yet another 2-on-1 chance but again could not capitalize, with Clegg banking it off the post.
The Cru would end up on the power play with the Saints taking a high-sticking penalty. Michael Benning set up new Crusader Cody Laskosky with a beautiful cross-ice pass, but Laskosky shot the puck wide of the net.
Just over six minutes into the period the Saints would add to their lead. Parker Saretsky sniped one past Berlin, just under his glove-side arm, after taking a pass out front from behind the Cru net.
The Cru then made things worse for themselves making a few mental mistakes and taking some bad penalties. Garrett Clegg took a roughing penalty while Cody Laskosky was called for goaltender interference after contacting Matthew Davis, knocking him down. Fortunately for Sherwood Park, the Saints would not score on either advantage.
Things continued to boil over as play continued. Seth Fyten of Spruce Grove hacked at Matt Berlin’s glove after he covered the puck, sparking Berlin and a few teammates to take exception resulting in some pushing and shoving.
With a few minutes left in the period, the rough stuff continued with Tyler Jette of the Cru and Nick Leyer of the Saints getting into a fight and taking each other down to the ice in a tussle. Both players were given 10-minute misconducts, forcing them out of the game.
The Cru went on the power play with just over two minutes left and despite pulling their goalie still could not get on the board. The Saints came out with the 2-0 victory ending the Cru’s unbeaten streak and handing them their first loss in October.
- Matt Berlin was a beast stopping 28 of 31 shots he faced, while Spruce Grove dominated the pace of play peppering the net with quality scoring chances.
- The Cru was able to develop some quality scoring chances they just couldn’t hit the net with them
- Despite the dominating play by Spruce Grove the Cru were able to throw 29 shots on net.
- Some sloppy play from the Cru, especially in the neutral zone led to some quality chances by the Saint.
- Spruce Grove held possession in the offensive zone far too long through most of the game, while the Cru saw their offensive zone time diminish after a missed chance or turnover.
- Took too many penalties late when they needed to focus and zone in on the task at hand. They gave a team that was already in their zone far too long, even more, time.
- The Cru see their undefeated streak in October finally snapped after seven straight wins
- Much like in the last few games the Cru seemed to lack a physical game. They looked like they were being bullied at times, and thus couldn’t connect on passes while their timing seemed off.
The Cru look to bounce back from this loss when they take on the Drayton Valley Thunder on Wednesday night from the Sherwood Park Arena. Puck drop is at 7 pm.