Sherwood Park Crusaders 5 Bonnyville Pontiacs 4 (OT)
The Crusaders have won their last four straight home games, and looked to continue their streak against the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
Bonnyville have dominated the Crusaders in two meeting so far this season, out-scoring them 11 to 4. Sherwood Park managed to pick up a win against them after the Pontiacs played an ineligible player, however, that doesn’t erase how poor they have been.
Heading into this afternoon’s contest, both teams were looking to make it back-to-back wins.
Here’s how it all played out:
Just 30 seconds into the period, Ben McLeod did what Ben McLeod does best and laid out Pontiacs star forward Isaac Saniga in centre ice. That hit really set a tone for how the rest of the game played out.
Sherwood Park opened the scoring at the seven-minute mark with a goal from Eric Blanchette right as a Cru powerplay expired. Blanchette has been playing with a lot of confidence recently and has scored nine points in his last six games. It’s great to see him finally catching a break and getting his name on the boxscore.
A golden opportunity to extend their lead fell to Jacob Franczak after he was awarded a penalty shot. Franczak was unable to take advantage of the call.
Heading into the first intermission, the Crusaders had a 1-0 lead over the Pontiacs. Between the pipes, Josh Dechaine stopped all ten shots that he faced.
It was an extremely poor start to the second for the home side.
Bonnyville first scored on a play from behind the net that was centered in front and poked in by Riley Smith. The Crusaders were slow to get into the puck and gave Ray a clear path to it. A poor, sloppy effort.
Then, just 25 seconds later a point shot from Kirby Proctor made it through a crowd and found the corner of Dechaine’s goal. Head Coach Adam Manah called a timeout immediately after the goal.
Following the goal, the Crusaders had an excellent response and piled the pressure back onto the Pontiacs. That pressure would result in them drawing two penalties, getting themselves on the powerplay.
They were able to capitalize on the first of those penalties with a goal from, who else, Ryan Cox. A hard slap shot from the right of Silvestre’s goal found the top corner to tie the game up at two.
On the second powerplay, the Crusaders had some more great opportunities to extend their lead; instead, they hit the post twice.
Heading into the final intermission, the game was tied up at two apiece.
The third period of hockey was the most entertaining I’ve seen at the Sherwood Park Arena this season.
The goal scoring began when Garrett Clegg was stripped from behind right in front of his own goal by Carson Erhardt. A bad mistake by the rookie and a tough break. Other than that though, Clegg played a good game. He was physical and generated many chances.
Another mistake lead to the Pontiacs fourth goal. All four penalty killers were drawn to one side of the ice which left Luke Albert wide open who put it upstairs giving the Pontiacs a two goal cushion.
However, the game wasn’t over yet!
Payton McIsaac threw the puck blindly on to the Pontiacs goal which somehow squeezed through Silvestre’s pad for his first AJHL goal.
That goal really boosted the Crusaders who had chance after chance after chance to tie up the game. Eventually, they would tie it up with a goal from Arjun Atwal who collected his own rebound and put it home with two minutes left.
That was the last goal of period which meant we were off to overtime.
Both teams had a number of extremely good opportunities to win the game. Josh Dechaine did an excellent job stopping the Pontiacs; at the other end the Crusaders just couldn’t get the right bounce.
With under a minute to play, Crusaders captain Brendan Kallis sent the puck down the ice to Dylan Stewart. Stewart made it to the face-off circle and cut inside then ripped a fast wrist shot past Silvestre to give the Crusaders all the points.
- Ashton Casault played as a defenceman for the second straight game and didn’t seem out of place. He moved the puck well and occasionally made a mistake but nothing that would hurt his team. Overall, a good weekend for him on the backend and as a teammate. It can’t be easy switching from forward to defence.
- Josh Dechaine had another solid performance in between the pipes. Nice to see him pick up a couple of wins in back-to-back.
- Arjun Atwal has taken no time to settle back into his role with the Crusaders. He’s effective every time he’s on the ice and has become a much stronger/smarter player. It’ll be exciting to see if himself and Ty Readman can get their chemistry back once Readman returns from injury.
- Payton McIsaac scored his first AJHL goal today so congratulations to him.
- The big names stepped up when the Crusaders needed them. Ryan Cox with the game tying goal in the second, Arjun Atwal with the game tying goal in the third, and Dylan Stewart with the game winner in overtime.
- They seemed to play nervously in their own zone. A number of times the Pontiacs took advantage of that and had some good chances. One of those chances turned into a goal.
- They out played Bonnyville for the majority of the game yet never really took advantage of that. It’s clear that they’re a better team than the Pontiacs but they’ve got to put them away sooner. Since they couldn’t today, they gave the Pontiacs a point they never should’ve had.
The Crusaders head south next weekend to take on the Drumheller Dragons and the Olds Grizzlys.