After finally snapping their eight-game losing streak on Friday, the Crusaders will play host to the Bonnyville Pontiacs to complete the home and home set.
They doubled up this same Pontiacs team on Friday and flexed their offensive depth, with six different players scoring goals and 12 different players getting points. They also appear to be getting healthy with Tyler Jette and goaltender Josh Brindza back in the lineup, both of which are huge returns.
It’s another big divisional game for Sherwood Park who have a chance to increase their lead over Bonnyville to eight points and pull to within one point of the Grande Prairie Storm for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Well, you could tell by the physical start that there was no love lost between these two division rivals. It was fairly clean until the 10:47 mark of the first period when Bonnyville took a tripping minor. With 23 seconds to go in the powerplay, the Cru caught the Pontiacs on a bad change firing a pass up the right wall to Cox who buried his 33rd goal of the year to put the home side up 1-0. Not too long after that, another defensive breakdown by the Pontiacs left Cox on a breakaway who capitalized to score his second of the game which put the Cru up by two.
Despite being outshot 10-5, the Cru led on the scoreboard after a very physical opening period
The middle frame was more back and forth as both teams seemed to have settled into the game. Although the Pontiacs seemed to have stepped it up a notch after their first period struggles, it was actually a late penalty taken by the Cru that seemed to change momentum. A bad decision by a Pontiacs defensemen in the offensive zone led to a bad pass being picked off by Erik Miller who sprung Arjun Atwal on a shorthanded break. Atwal slid it fivehole to put the Cru up 3-0.
After 40, it was clear the Crusaders were in control while Bonnyville was clinging to life.
Starting the period with a 3-0 lead, the Cru were looking to continue pouring pressure on the Pontiacs, and that’s exactly what they did, adding a fourth goal just two minutes into the third. The Cru looked very strong the whole game, from winning the puck battles to a solid outing by Brandon Vogel who stopped all 25 shots he faced.
A pair of goals by Ryan Cox and a shutout by Vogel led the Cru to a much needed victory this afternoon, their second straight win over their division opponent.
- Ryan Cox had an outstanding game putting up two goals and one assist. He’s continued to impress in his brief career in the green & black.
- Tyson Gruninger had a very strong game physically and added an assist.
- The Cru kept their feet moving the entire game, winning a majority of the puck battles and scoring 4 goals on 23 shots.
- Brandon Vogel played unreal stopping all 25 shots that were put his way, leading the Cru to a 4-0 win with his 2nd shutout of the year.
- Special teams came through clutch with a pair of powerplay goals and a shorty.
- Great game all around, however, the Cru started to lose their composure halfway through the third period. Need to stay more disciplined, especially once the playoffs roll around. It’s hard to beat the better teams in this league if you’re shorthanded for long stretches.
- Although the Cru got the win today, it could’ve gone south simply due to the amount of odd man rushes allowed in the second, they’ll need to minimize those over the next few games if they want to compete in the playoffs. A full 60 minute effort is important.
The Cru will continue their three-game homestand, and look to win their third in a row, on Friday when they play host to the Lloydminster Bobcats, who sit right behind them in the AJHL’s North Division standings. The puck will drop just after 7 pm and if you miss the game, you can get your Cru Wrap right here on BTI.