The Crusaders are looking for a strong start to their post-trade deadline stretch as they welcome the 21-13-6 Calgary Mustangs to Sherwood Park Arena. There was no shortage of moves made by team General Manager Kyle Chase, as the Cru saw forward Cody Laskosky sent to the Camrose Kodiaks and brought in a couple of seasoned veterans in Zach Kaiser and Reid Irwin from the Lloydminster Bobcats.
Kaiser wasn’t in the lineup tonight as he’s recovering from a wrist injury but is averaging just under a point per game so far this season and should add another top scoring threat to the lineup, along with a veteran presence that will be vital to this team making a strong push in the playoffs.
Irwin made his debut tonight which will give the fans a chance to see what he brings to the table. He’s put up 12 points so far this season, which isn’t bad for a defenceman playing on a weak team. He’s a guy who will be depended on to shut down other teams top players but may surprise a few people with his puck moving ability.
The Crusaders are also getting one of the leagues top player’s in Carter Savoie back in their lineup after serving a two-game suspension. Which will be huge as they come into this weekend hoping to grab four points and continue to reign number one in the North Division.
The relentless forecheck by the Mustangs caused Matt Berlin to be under siege with quality scoring chances early in the game. But Berlin stood his ground to keep the game at zero.
However, the top line for Calgary would strike soon after as a beautiful passing play set up by Tanner Klassen and Joel Krahenbil was finished off by Jackson Salt to open the game’s scoring.
There wasn’t a ton of grade-A scoring chances for the Crusaders in the opening period, but they did outshoot the opposition 17-13 and were rewarded with a hardworking goal jammed in by Jacob Franczak following a late period powerplay to even up the score heading into the second frame.
An early breakaway chance for Salt to regain his teams lead was shut down by Matt Berlin, as he remained sharp coming into the next period.
Liam Freeborn found a wide open Tyler Lentz in the slot, who slid the puck through the five-hole of Berlin to once again give the Mustangs the lead.
However, the Crusaders star forward Savoie would soon provide an answer in his first game back from his two-game suspension, as his powerplay goal would make this a 2-2 game in some unpredictable back and forth action.
The Crusaders then found themselves victims of bad luck, when a weird bounce off the boards found it’s way right in front their net where an all alone Jarrett Timmerman made no mistake to give the Mustangs a 3-2 lead.
Franczak was close to adding yet another powerplay goal for Sherwood Park as he took a swipe at an uncovered puck sitting behind goaltender Ben Howard, but the puck was just barely put wide.
William Zapernick used his speed to battle his way into a partial breakaway in the dying seconds of the third but wasn’t able to find the back of the net. The score remained 3-2 heading into the third.
A goal by captain Tyler Jette brought the Crusaders right back into the game as the defencemen sniped one over the shoulder of Howard, bringing the score to 3-3.
The stage was now set for the sixteen-year-old Savoie. He came flying down the left side after receiving a stretch pass from Garrett Clegg and then was able to put his backhand over the pad of Howard after cutting across the crease. A huge goal by Savoie to give the Crusaders their first lead in the most crucial part of the game.
Although there were plenty of heated battles along the way, the Mustangs weren’t able to find an answering goal as the Crusaders fended them off to hold onto a 4-3 win in their first of back to back matchups this weekend.
- The powerplay was firing on all cylinders tonight. Although their first goal was technically on even strength, it came within seconds of the powerplay ending. On the team’s second powerplay opportunity they were able to score once again, along with plenty of chances on the man advantage through the rest of the game.
- Reid Irwin received quality minutes in his debut as a Crusader and was utilized in all situations. He looked good slotted next to Benning as well as in his small sample size with Jette. He is a very smooth skater and can move the puck well.
- The Crusaders surged their opposition with shots all night. When you outshoot the other team 39-24, you know you had a good night.
- Carter Savoie was back and came up big for the Crusaders when they needed him most with a couple of clutch goals to secure the win.
- Even though the Crusaders massively outshot the Mustangs, they still allowed quite a few quality chances against them throughout the game, particularly in the first period. If not for the solid play of Berlin they could have easily found themselves down by two or more goals early on.
- On occasion, the Crusaders got caught sleeping in their end and turned over the puck one too many times.
The Crusaders take on the Grand Praire Storm at home to finish off their weekend homestand. The Crusaders will look to finish what the Spruce Grove Saints started on Friday night as they just beat Grand Praire 7-2. The Brooks Bandits are still giving the Crusaders a run for their money at first place in the division, so wins in these next few games will be more crucial than ever.