The high flying Sherwood Park Crusaders host the Grande Prairie Storm in a matinee matchup at Sherwood Park Arena Sunday. Grande Prairie has struggled this season and comes into today’s matchup with a record of 6-10-1. Meanwhile, the Crusaders remain at the top of the AJHL North at 16-1-0, only the Brooks Bandits in the AJHL South are having a better season, they remain undefeated at 17-0-0.
Vincent Scott and Kaden Bryant will draw into the line up for the Cru.
After taking Friday night off, Jordan Frey returns between the pipes for Sherwood Park. Frey has been good this year, with a 2.06 GAA and a save percentage of 0.912 and a record of 5-1-0.
At the other end of the ice, Grande Prairie counters with Kaeden Lane, he posts a record of 4-5-1 with a 3.35 GAA, and a save percentage of 0.880.
The Crusaders got off to a quick start and wasted no time in getting shots on net; Grande Prairie faced five shots in the first two minutes alone. Both teams landed a few solid hits in the opening frame and other than a couple of entries Grande Prairie struggled to get the puck into the offensive zone. As usual, the Cru dominated puck possession during the first 10-minutes.
Some beautiful passes to break out of the defensive zone and move through the middle of the ice resulted in Sherwood Park’s first goal. Arjun Atwal scored his 8th of the year after some tic-tac-toe from William Zapernick and Carter Savoie. Just all around great puck movement to put the Cru up 1-0.
At the 10-minute mark, the Storm received the first powerplay of the game after a cross-checking call on Brett Wieschorster. Grande Prairie put the puck in the net, overtop a sprawling Frey, but the play was blown dead before the puck went in and did not count. The Storm had one other decent shot on net during the powerplay, but Frey made a crucial save to maintain the lead.
That seemed to spark Grande Prairie; they spent a lot of the second half of the first period in Sherwood Park’s zone. Grande Prairie was rewarded for their efforts, the Storm’s third line found the back of the net after Carter Myrol put in a rebound after a point shot from William Schimek.
We head into the second period tied 1-1, the shots are also tied at 12 each.
Sherwood Park’s top line nearly made it 2-1 with a wrap-around attempt by Carter Savoie, the puck got behind Storm netminder Kaeden Lane, but he was able to smother it before it crossed the line.
The Cru was back just a few seconds later though, Jacob Franczak made it 2-1 with a nice backhand to go five-hole on Lane. Ty Mueller and Jarred white with assists on the play.
Shortly after, the Storm was back on the powerplay after a boarding call on Nicholas Magis. A couple of shots for GP, but the game remains 2-1.
Mathew Shatsky got his first-ever goal in the AJHL with a blast from the point to make it 3-1, assisted by Connor Hart.
A third man-advantage for Grande Prairie after a high-stick from captain Arjun Atwal. The Storm mostly wasted their powerplay, with the D passing back and forth instead of taking a shot for the first half. GP had a decent chance in the final seconds, but Jordan Frey shut the door.
The Crusaders capitalized on their first powerplay of the game to make it 4-1. A handful of chances right in front of the net put Storm netminder Kaeden Lane on his belly, Jarred White got his 10th goal of the season popping it over Lane who had no chance on the play. Arjun Atwal and Carter Savoie with the helpers on the play.
It was almost 5-1 for the Cru just as the period expired, the puck was forced under the GP goalie after he lost possession of it, but the officials waved it off. It was honestly too close to call, I can’t say whether or not it was a goal.
We head into the final period 4-1 for Sherwood Park, the shot clock shows 27-25 for the Cru.
A minute into the third the Cru got their second powerplay after a cross-checking call on Brenden Kwiatkowski. A couple of shots for the boys in black, but the score remains 4-1.
The visitors spent a lot of time in the Crusader’s zone in the final frame, but Sherwood Park did a great job limiting Grande Prairie’s chances, they only registered a few shots on net.
Grande Prairie captain Lucas Konashuk took a lot of wind out of his team’s sails when he took a four-minute high-sticking penalty at the 10-minute mark of the period. Carter Savoie gave them a helping hand though, taking a tripping penalty in the neutral zone to give the teams two minutes of 4-on-4.
With more space on the ice, both teams traded a couple of chances, but the man-advantage expired, and the score remains 4-1.
A final powerplay for Sherwood Park to close out the game. Storm defenseman Brenden Kwiatkowski took a tripping call with just 2:21 left to play. The Crusaders kept the pressure on to close out the game for a 4-1 victory.
- Grande Prairie is the first opponent I’ve seen this season keep up with the Cru on the shot clock, Jordan Frey was great though limiting the Storm to just one goal. He finished the night with 28 saves on 29 shots.
- Congrats to Mathew Shatsky getting his first AJHL goal here’s to many more.
- I bring it up every game I watch, but the Cru’s passing is seriously impressive.
- Sherwood Park took a few penalties, but overall they’re playing a much more disciplined game and limiting the post-whistle scrums.
- Four goals are coming from four different players, Sherwood Park showing how deep they are when it comes to the offence.
- Sherwood Park is playing more disciplined lately, but they still took several penalties. If this team didn’t have such a great PK, they would be getting themselves in trouble.
- The Crusaders were lucky that the game wasn’t closer as I said above, GP was able to keep up with them on the shot clock. They would’ve had even more, but several times Storm players fanned on shots or failed to pick up passes.
- The Cru went 0-4 on the powerplay, they could have really put the game out of Grande Prairie’s grasp with a special teams goal or two.
Sherwood Park gets on the bus and heads to the Drayton Valley Omniplex Tuesday to take on the Thunder. Puck drop is at 7:30.