photo via Target Photography
The Crusaders took on the Calgary Canucks at the Encana Arena in Camrose at the annual AJHL Showcase. When these two teams match up, the goals usually come along with it. Last season, the two teams combined for 24 goals and split the season series 1-1.
The one notable change to the lineup was Matt Berlin getting the night off with Carter Gylander stepping between the pipes for the second time this season.
Carter Gylander made his first AJHL appearance last season in Calgary and it did not go to well for him. He definitely looking for some redemption in this one.
The Crusaders got the first opportunity of the game when Garrett Clegg stripped the Canucks defenceman of the puck on the Cru blueline. Clegg and Carter Savoie went in on a 2-on-1 breakaway but were denied by a sprawling Blake Pilon. On the play, Clegg was slashed by a Canucks defenceman which gave the Cru an early powerplay. However, nothing would come of it.
The next best chance came from Michael Benning who hit the crossbar just before the five-minute mark.
Sherwood Park got on the board first courtesy of rookie defenceman Brennan McDonnell. McDonnell took a wrist shot through a crowd and managed to get the puck through for his first career AJHL goal.
Less than a minute later, the Crusaders were on the board again. A loose puck in front was picked up by Erik Miller who slid the puck into an empty net for his second of the season.
Gylander made a couple of big backdoor stops the keep the Canucks at bay.
It was a weak start to the second for the Crusaders. Michael Benning was called for high-sticking just seconds in the period put the Canucks on their second powerplay of the game. A shot from Max Johnson from the point made it through the crowd to pull the Canucks within one.
That goal light lit a spark under the Crusaders, who would go on to dominate the period.
Jacob Franczak restored his team’s two-goal lead less than a minute later. A shot from the point was stopped, but Franczak was able to scoop up the rebound for his first of the season.
That goal was quickly followed by a goal from Cameron Aucoin on an odd-man rush. Aucoin’s goal was initially ruled no goal. The shot hit the crossbar and bounced over the line and out. Luckily for the Crusaders, the goal judge let his opinion be known to the referees who then award Aucoin his first AJHL goal.
The goals kept coming from that point on. Tyson Scott scored two, and Carter Savoie batted the puck out of the air for his second of the season.
Sherwood Park also had a strong period defensively aside from the conceded goal. They limited the Canucks to only seven shots with the majority of them being shots from the outside making it easy on Gylander. Gylander was forced into making one big stop for his team shorthanded when he was left one-on-one with a Calgary forward.
One thing of note to start the period was no Tyler Jette, not entirely sure what the situation with him is, yet.
It was a fairly quite third period offensively with none goals being scored.
Calgary found themselves on a 5-on-3 penalty early on with Garrett Clegg (roughing) and Jayden Platz (tripping) both serving time in the box. The Crusaders would kill off both penalties.
Sherwood Park would also get a 5-on-3 opportunity but, again, nothing would come from it. Head Coach, Adam Manah mixed up the powerplay lines giving players who usually would get time on the odd man – Tanner Fincaryk, Cameron Aucoin, Zafir Rawji – a chance to show what they have got to offer in that department.
The Crusaders limited the Canucks to only seven shots in the period and surrendered just 20 the entire game. Offensively, they dominated with 7 goals being scored and 51 shots in total.
- Gylander was solid in goal. He wasn’t given too much to do, but when he was called up, he picked up the phone and made the save. There were at least three noteworthy saves that could’ve swung the game if it weren’t for the netminder.
- The fourth line of Aucoin-Fincaryk-Rawji had an all-around good game. They got a lot more ice time than they usually would, and they performed at a good level. They checked, they put pucks on goal and played well defensively too.
- Michael Bentz has developed a lot as a player and this game displayed that. He’s much calmer with the puck and makes much smarter plays now. Bentz defends his teammates, is a great penalty killer, and overall one of the team’s best defenceman.
- Jayden Platz looked much more comfortable today than he did on Sunday against Olds. It shows what a week of practice can do for a player.
- They showed off the offensive depth they have. Yes, the Canucks are a very weak opponent. However, the confidence some of those players will get from scoring goals will carry over into the next game and the one after that and so on.
- Depending on what happened with Jette, that could be a big blow to this team. Jette is a leader both on and off the ice, and the team plays much differently with and without him. Luckily, they have the defensive depth to fill in for him.
- They took a few extra penalties than maybe should have. Benning’s penalty early in the second period was a tough one. Taking an early penalty that results in a goal against could swing a game out of your favour.
The Crusaders are back in Camrose on Saturday for their second game of AJHL Showcase when they take on the host the Camrose Kodiaks. Tickets for that game can be bought at the Encana Arena. Puck drops at 7:00 p.m.