Photo via Target Photography
It’s hockey hooky at the Sherwood Park Arena. Hundreds of local school kids are skipping class to watch the Crusaders take on the Lloydminster Bobcats. After a tough loss to the Spruce Grove Saints last Friday, the Cru came back with a dominant 6-2 win Saturday to take the second game of the home at home.
This should be an easy one for Sherwood Park; the Bobcats are dead last in the AJHL North standings with a record of 2-15-3, the Cru remains atop the standings posting a 19-2-0 record.
Captain and second overall in league scoring Arjun Atwal was out for today’s game, he received a two-game suspension last Friday for a hit to the head. Ty Mueller fills the centre spot on the top line.
Vaclav Prospal Jr. makes his AJHL debut; he’s the son of former NHLer Vinny Prospal who spent 16 seasons in the NHL. Prospal Jr. comes to the Crusaders from the OHL’s Barrie Colts.
The Bobcats offence has a tall order ahead if they want to win today, their leading scorer Chance Adrian has just four goals and six assists on the season. Sherwood Park is much deeper, with the top four point-getters in the AJHL North all in black and green.
Jordan Frey starts between the pipes for the Crusaders, after riding the pine for both games versus the Saints. Frey comes into today’s game with a 6-1-0 record, a stellar 1.91 GAA, and a .921 save percentage.
Lloyd counters with Garrett Larsen, he’s not having a great year, but neither are the Bobcats. Larsen has a 0-4-1 record, an abysmal 6.29 GAA, and a save percentage of 0.855. Maybe the Cru will go easy on him in front of all these already screaming children.
Lloydminster didn’t start the game playing like they’re at the bottom on the AJHL North standings. Some tight play to start the period, the Bobcats showing a strong forecheck taking advantage of a few sloppy passes and clearing attempts in the Cru’s zone.
Sherwood Park isn’t giving up a lot of chances though, just three shots each as we hit the halfway mark of the first. A great high energy start for both squads, maybe they’re feeding off the extra noise from all of these sugar-crazed kids. Seriously though, this is the loudest game I’ve attended at this barn, we’ll see if they can keep it up.
A pretty even start for both sides I’ll give a slight edge to Lloydminster, they seem to be spending more time in the offensive zone than the Crusaders. Sherwood Park is limiting their chances though; the shot clock reads 9-8 for the Cru at the end of the first.
I was told during the intermission that this is one of the loudest games in recent memory at the Sherwood Park Arena. Apparently, the players are even having trouble communicating with each other and hearing the officials.
Sherwood Park starts the second with a couple of quality chances, finding the net just 1:40 into the frame to open the scoring on a very brief powerplay. Jarred White scores with assists from Carter Savoie and William Zapernick.
Maybe it’s quieter down at this end of the rink because the Cru is putting together plenty of great looks. Almost making it 2-0 seconds after the first goal as the puck slides through the crease, but Lloyd gets lucky.
The Bobcats with a nice shot of their own as well, Mack Stewart rings one off the crossbar, but it’s still 1-0.
Sherwood Park started to pour on the pressure as we head through the second. The Cru score to make it 2-0 just before the 6-minute mark, Brett Wieschorster scores with Max Wutzke and Tanner Fincaryk assisting on the play.
A pileup in front of the Bobcat’s net allowed Michael Benning to make it 3-0 for the Crusaders. Honestly, I’m shocked the refs didn’t blow the play dead. One Crusader was shoved and fell on top of Lloyd netminder Garret Larsen, pinning him for a bit as the three players struggled to get back on their feet. That allowed Benning to blast one into the open net, Vaclav Prospal Jr. with an assist for his first point in the AJHL.
We head into the third with Sherwood Park starting to take control of this one. The scoreboard reads 3-0 for the Crusaders, with 23 shots to Lloydminster’s 13.
I guess it’s early dismissal for most of these kids. We start the final period with most of the barn now empty as the kids are bussed back to school. I can actually hear the players talking now instead of shrill screaming.
The Crusaders took their first penalty of the game, Jarred White received two minutes for holding the stick, but the Bobcats sent a man to the box as well for high-sticking to keep it five on five.
A very long and beautiful pass from Crusaders goalie Jordan Frey caught a streaking Blake Sydlowski into the offensive zone; he put the puck past Larsen to make it 4-0 for Sherwood Park. I believe that’s the third assist from a Crusaders goalie this season. I told you this team was deep on offence.
Prospal Jr. took a slashing penalty right after that two put the Bobcats on the man advantage. They couldn’t put much together though, and the game remains 4-0.
A brief powerplay to eat up the final 38 seconds for the Crusaders after a boarding call on Chad Maclean. Only a shot or two as Sherwood Park comes out on top with a 4-0 victory. Jordan Frey makes 16 saves to earn the shutout.
- A very disciplined game from Sherwood Park, they didn’t take a penalty until the third period. The Bobcats also received a penalty on the play though, so it remained five on five so no biggie. The Crusaders finish the afternoon with just two penalties.
- Maybe it was the early start or the shrieking children, but the Cru started a little slow, but they were still able to limit Lloydminster’s scoring opportunities. The Crusaders got their feet under them as the game went on and really started to take control over the Bobcats.
- Another game showing off Sherwood Park’s deep offence, with two goals coming from the fourth line, one from a defenseman, and one from the top line. Even netminder Jordan Frey got on the score sheet.
- Some sloppy passes and zone entries, plus a strong forecheck by the Bobcats meant the Crusaders spent a lot of time in their own zone to start the game. Maybe it was just the early start or the noise from the kids.
- The normally white knuckle tricycle race after the first intermission was just one kid on a victory lap, as one of his opponents seemed to be suffering from some technical difficulties and never got off the starting line, and the other was so slow I thought he was about to get a penalty for delay of game. Seriously, there’s not a lot the Crusaders could have done better today.
The Sherwood Park Crusaders welcome the Bonnyville Pontiacs holiday Monday. Puck drop at 7 from the Sherwood Park Arena.