The Crusaders almost saw their 6-3 lead fall to the hands of Auston Young of the Canmore Eagles in the 3rd period of Friday’s night matchup. They look to rebound tonight as they set to face another league superstar in Dylan Holloway of Okotoks Oilers. Holloway is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2020 NHL draft and will not make things easy for the Crusaders in the second of their back-to-back matchups during Hometown Hockey weekend in Sherwood Park.
There was still some really solid play during the first two periods of last nights game that the Crusaders can build off of coming into this one. Their power play looked solid, the pressure of their forecheck consistently caused troubles for the opposition’s breakout, and they had players step up and be big contributors when they needed them most.
Tonight, the team is looking to make it a four-point weekend. But they are going to have to control Okotoks star forward Dylan Holloway in order to do that. The Okotoks Oilers are coming into this one fresh off a 5-1 victory against the Spruce Grove Saints and made no plans of slowing down in Sherwood Park.
Here’s how things played out:
The Crusaders were put on their heels right off the bat as they were forced to kill off an early penalty by Arjun Atwal. The Crusaders came out to be successful at limiting the Oilers to no real scoring chances during the early powerplay, and the game stayed even.
Later on in the period, Louis Jamernik would finish off a beautiful behind the back pass from Kaleb Ergang to open up the scoring for the Oilers.
The Oilers weren’t done yet as Ben Evanish put away the second goal of the game with authority, as he sniped one right off the crossbar to extend the Oilers lead to 2-0.
The Crusaders weren’t able to generate any goals in the first but outshot there opponent 12-7, and this game was without a doubt still up for grabs heading into the second.
Sherwood Park would be the first to reach the scoresheet in the 2nd as a great pass by Garrett Clegg over to Brandon Wallis would bring the game to within one for the Crusaders. The goal also extended Clegg’s point streak to 12 games which is good for the second-longest active streak in the league.
Both goalies would battle to keep the score at 2-1, as end to end action resulted in great scoring chances for both teams. Cody Laskosky was the first to be denied as rookie goaltender Brady Parker would reach out to stop Laskosky after receiving a backdoor pass from William Zapernick on the powerplay. Soon after a scoring chance would be had for the Oilers. As an offensive zone turnover by the Crusaders turned into a 3 on 1 opportunity for Dylan Holloway’s line coming down the other way. But goaltender Matt Berlin came up big to shut the door and keep the game within reach.
A dis-orientated pinch by Oilers defender resulted in a prime breakaway opportunity for one of the Crusaders top forwards Arjun Atwal to tie the game going into the third, but the shot was sailed high.
Oilers number one scorer Holloway would then go on to get his first of the night shortly after, as he spun around and rifled one from the slot past Berlin to make the game 3-1.
The Crusaders would push back and almost brought the game back to within one after a flurry of chances in front of the Oilers net resulted in Brennan Mcdonnell’s shot from the point ringing off the post before the end of the period.
An undisciplined penalty to start off the period robbed the Crusaders an opportunity to get an early goal to start a late game comeback, and from there they were never able to get things going.
Berlin would step up again for Sherwood Park as he stopped Kaleb Ergang from getting his second point of the game on a breakaway opportunity, keeping the Crusaders hopes of climbing back into this game alive.
However, those hopes would later be crushed as a strong defensive play by Okotoks defencemen Tanner Sawka would break up a 2 on 1 chance for Atwal and Clegg. At this point, it seemed as though the Crusaders weren’t going to find a way to get back into this one.
From there, the Crusaders would pull the goalie during their powerplay opportunity with just under four minutes left in the game for a late push to close the deficit. However, they were unsuccessful and an empty net goal by Quinn Olson found the Cru dropping the second game of their doubleheader by a score of 4-1 to the Okotoks Oilers.
- Despite not having a lot of zone time the Crusaders were able to generate an ample amount of chances from the several breaks they had in the second period.
- Great goaltending by Matt Berlin kept this game within reach right until the last half of the third period.
- The team did an alright job at containing Holloway in comparison to the troubles they had controlling Alex Young Friday night against the Eagles. Either way, Holloway was a difference maker in this one.
- Penalty killers did a great job at limiting the chances for the Okotoks Oilers on the man advantage.
- Relied on goaltender Matt Berlin to bail the team out of several breaks for the other team. A prime example of this was when Berlin made a huge save after a turnover led to a 3 on 1 for Holloways line in the second period.
- The undisciplined penalty in the third period really hindered the team’s chances of finding a way to climb back into this one
- Spent way too much time in the defensive zone. There wasn’t a lot of sequences where the Cru held the opposition in their own zone for an extended period of time. Majority of their scoring chances had to come from breaks on turnovers by Okotoks or stretch passes on the breakout. Following these chances, the Crusaders would almost always find themselves right back in the defensive zone shortly after.
- After outshooting Okotoks in the first period they were outshot by the opposition for the rest of the game, and really did not make many strides to turn it around.
Up next the Calgary Mustangs are in town for a Friday night battle on January 11. The Crusaders will fight to remain number one in the North Division after taking a tough loss to the Okotoks. A rebound win will be necessary in this matchup as the Bonnyville Pontiacs are coming up hot on the Crusaders with their eyes set on taking over first place. However, this veteran Mustangs team loaded with 20-year-old talent is not going to make it easy for the young Crusaders to grab some crucial points.