Sherwood Park Crusaders 5 Grande Prairie Storm 3
The Crusaders opponents on this November afternoon were the Grande Prairie Storm. A team that hadn’t traveled south to Sherwood Park since the backend of the 2016-17 season. The two North Division rivals, however, had met as recently as Wednesday night with the Storm coming out victories after a Connor Blake penalty shot goal in overtime.
Heading into this matchup, Sherwood Park were looking for their fourth home win of the season, and to snap a four-game losing skid.
As for the Storm, they were hoping to bounce back from a disappointing loss on Friday night to the Camrose Kodiaks.
It was a quiet first 20 minutes with very little to report.
Star forward Ty Readman made his return to the lineup after missing the previous five games due to injury. With his return, the Crusaders opted to play shorthanded on the blueline – playing with only five defensemen – rather than calling up an affiliate.
Brandon Vogel was the lone standout performer of the period. The 1999-born netminder made a number of critical saves throughout to keep the game scoreless.
At the end of the 20, the score was tied at zero with the shot count sitting at 13-7 in favour of the Storm.
It was difficult but the second 20 was significantly more entertaining than the first.
The Storm came out hot to start it out, pinning the Crusaders in their own end for the first three minutes or so. Luckily for the home side, nothing came from this possession.
A sequence of penalties all occurred in a two-minute span which eventually resulted in the Crusaders being on a 5-on-3 powerplay. Sherwood Park was able to capitalize on the penalties with a goal from Dylan Stewart. A hard slap shot from the point from Ben McLeod hit the back wall and rebounded out to Ty Readman on the left of the goal. Readman patiently waited for an opening and found Stewart in front for an easy goal.
Not too long after, the Storm tied up the game on the powerplay. Edouard Michaud was credited with the goal after Brandon Vogel made two key stops; unfortunately, he was unable to stop the third attempt. Not the greatest penalty killing by the Crusaders.
Just a couple of minutes later, the Storm had won the face-off to the right of Vogel’s goal and a one-timer from Walker Cote was tipped in by Bernier. Again, not much Vogel could’ve done, just a was a well-executed play by Grande Prairie.
The periods scoring was not done yet, though. Captain Brendan Kallis stepped into a slap shot, just two minutes after the Storm took the lead, and blasted one right into the top left corner to tie the game up at two.
The Crusaders started out the period in very Crusader like fashion. Just under two minutes in, Cruz Cote found an open Jonothan Hader in front to restore the Storms lead.
Following that, Grande Prairie piled on the pressure forcing Vogel to make stop after stop. If it wasn’t for him the Crusaders could’ve found themselves done by more than one at this point. His best stop of the period came on the penalty kill when he robbed Zachary Okabe with a huge glove save.
A strange play by Charles-Oliver Levesque, in the Storm goal, allowed the Crusaders to tie up the game midway through the period. The 1997-born netminder attempted to wrap the puck around the boards but sent it directly into the path of William Zapernick who had a wide open net to shoot at. Zapernick made no mistake and tied up the game for the Crusaders.
For the next five minutes or so, it was very much a neutral ice battle. Neither team wanted to make a mistake which would allow the other team to go on and win the game.
However, the Crusaders were able to catch a break on an awkward bounce of a Storm defenceman. Erik Miller picked up the loose puck and centered it directly in the path of Ryan Cox who scored his eighth goal in his eighth game as a Crusader.
The final six minutes of the game were never racking, to say the least. Grande Prairie held the puck the Crusaders end until close to the final buzzer. Ryan Cox made a few solid blocks whilst, again, Brandon Vogel made numerous stops.
Dylan Stewart would eventually seal the victory for the Crusaders with an empty net goal.
- They were finally able to pick up a victory on home ice. The last time they won a game at the Sherwood Park Arena was back on October 18th against the Lloydminster Bobcats.
- The penalty kill played well tonight besides that one bad play in the second period which lead the Storms opening goal. They finished off 3 for 4.
- Dylan Stewart-Ryan Cox-Will Zapernick had another great game. They played solid at both ends of the ice and all picked up a goal. When Ty Readman is back to full health it might be a good idea to play him with a new set of wingers because that line has been to good to breakup.
- Brandon Vogel was phenomenal tonight. He made huge saves at critical times for the Crusaders and kept them in the game. He’s my star of the game for sure.
- Despite not playing much, Ty Readman created a few decent chances. His best ice time came on the powerplay were he set up Dylan Stewart.
- A few times in the dying minutes they failed to clear the puck which, of course, put them under more pressure. A simple play down the boards would’ve benefited them greatly.
- They allowed the Storm to press on them often this afternoon. Luckily for them Brandon Vogel was on fire.
The Crusaders and the Storm will battle it out again next Friday right here at the Sherwood Park Arena. The puck drops for that game at 7 PM.