The Sherwood Park Arena was bumping tonight for game 4 between the Crusaders and the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
For a team with their backs against the wall, the Cru came out a little flat and quickly surrendered a power play goal to open the scoring. It didn’t take long after for the Pontiacs to make it 2-0. The Cru woke up shortly after and cranked up the physicality. Whenever they decided to take the body and play a more physical brand of hockey tonight, you could see the momentum shifting. It’s a shame they couldn’t have all 18 skaters running at a pace like that for 60 minutes, it would have changed this game drastically.
The early comeback got going thanks to pure perseverance by the Cru. Maltby and Oszytko both took whacks at a bouncing puck before Chase Torontow finally put the puck in the net. The goal was great, but afterward, Tyler Maltby put his hand to his ear and taunted the Bonnyville faithful. Some would say that’s a little cocky, but in my eyes, that just shows how bad Maltby wants it and how much emotion he plays with. Going to miss seeing him with the team when he moves onto ASU next year.
The Cru really got a jump from that first goal and then received the luckiest of bounces later in the first as Koletrane Wilson dumped a puck from his own end, which took a bounce and went five-hole on Robert Jacobson. An incredible fluke, but you need those sometimes in the playoffs, especially when you’re the underdog.
The game went into the second period all tied up and things were going back and forth, but honestly the Cru were too inconsistent for my liking. Too many times they took the lazy option and then it eventually cost them as a couple weak one-handed plays in the neutral zone allowed Bonnyville to get a few scoring chances, which they eventually capitalized on.
The Crusader’s powerplay was solid all night but never delivered a goal. They put on good pressure and the PP still generated momentum, but it’s still one of those aspects of the game you look back on and recognize as a missed opportunity.
Down by one heading into the 3rd period, Bonnyville was just too solid. The Cru gave them a handful and it just wasn’t going to happen tonight. A screen shot beat Vogel to make it 4-2 and then an empty net sealed the deal on this series.
The Crusaders shouldn’t be hanging their heads, they gave Bonnyville everything they could handle and simply got beat by a better team.
- When the team cranked up the physicality they controlled the play, they just weren’t doing it consistently enough.
- A great effort on that first goal to stay focused on the puck. It took 3 or 4 whacks before Torontow finally put it in.
- After that first goal, Tyler Maltby gave a little “I can’t hear you” taunt to the Bonnyville fans in attendance and I loved it. Bonnyville can get rattled easily, so I liked it. Sparks a little playoff atmosphere.
- Cam Reagen was sensational tonight. He delivered a couple of huge hits and put some rubber on net. The other thing I love about Reagen’s game is his gap control. He never let a Bonnyville player go more than a stick length away when they were breaking in.
- The powerplay was buzzing tonight. They went 0/2, but they had consistent pressure the whole night. A powerplay doesn’t always have to score to be effective, tonight was a great example as the Cru generated a ton of momentum with the extra man.
- Ryan Rebelato was very strong tonight. He never got on the scoresheet but he blocked shots, was hard on the forecheck and threw pucks on net. Put in a really solid playoff game from an energy role.
- Turned over the puck too much early on. When you’re the underdog, you can’t risk giving the other team any freebies.
- The team wasn’t putting enough pucks on net. Only 3 shots through the first 10 mins and 8 after the 1st period, that’s not good enough. Not just pucks on net either, they weren’t even attempting shots on goal.
- Cru got caught reaching with one hand on the third Bonnyville goal. It was a lazy play and it cost them.
- Cru got some great luck when Koletrane Wilson scored from the other end of the ice, but things have a way of even out. They got some bad bounces in the third, including a cross bar late in the 2nd period.
- Tough to watch guys like Maltby, Sowa and all the other vets leaving the ice for the final time. It was great getting to watch those guys play every week.
THE TURNING POINT
In the second period, the Crusaders got a nice rush going and the puck found the stick of Garrett Clegg who made a great move to stop up and pull the puck back. He got a great shot off but he just struck iron. That goes in and we’re talking about at least a tie game going into the third period. Sometimes those go, sometimes they don’t, it just wasn’t meant to be tonight.
That’s all for us. Crusaders are done for the season which means this is the final Cru Wrap of the 16/17 season. A huge shoutout to the Crusaders organization and players for giving us a chance to cover the team. Especially Spencer Love for giving us all the access we got. It was an absolute pleasure getting to watch this team. With that said, good luck to all the players moving on after this season!
We aren’t done for good though! Expect a steady dose of Crusaders content throughout the off-season with Inside The Cru podcasts and summer updates! See you all next season!