After winning an overtime thriller last night in Sherwood Park Arena, the Crusaders now have the opportunity to set a new franchise record in wins in the final game of their regular season.
The team is riding a 3 game win streak and would like nothing more than to close out the season with a win and keep this momentum rolling into the playoffs.
The only thing standing in the way of the Crusaders and setting a new franchise record is the Grand Praire Storm. A team that has put together a modest 30-25-4 record this season, but does possess some game-breaking offensive talents like 21-year-old Noah Corson. The Quebec native has put up 42 points in just 25 games with the Storm this season, an average of 1.7 points per game, which is on pace with league MVP Dylan Holloway.
Nonetheless, this is not only a winnable game for the Crusaders, but it’s a game they should win as they have proved they can roll over mid-tier North Division teams all season long.
Here’s how it went down:
A chip off the boards allowed the Crusaders to break out of their zone with speed, where the rush was eventually finished off by forward Brayden Hyland to get the Crusaders on the board early in this one.
Reid Irwin would later snipe one from the blueline over the blocker side of Lars Kaliel. The trade deadline acquisition has been absolute money for the Crusaders as of late, that goal now gives the defencemen 9 points in his last 5 games.
Not much push back came from the Storm came in the first frame, Crusaders up 2-0 heading into the second.
A laser from the point by Michael Benning on the powerplay went in and out of the net so fast that it caused the refs to discuss whether it was a good goal or not, but after a dramatic delay it was evidently called a goal and the Cru expanded their lead to 3-0.
Jarin Sutton opened the scoring for the Storm with his second goal of the year as Grand Praire converted on their powerplay opportunity to put this game at 3-1.
The Crusaders put together a few more quality chances on Kaliel but this game stayed at 3-1 to end the second.
A beautiful pass from behind the net by William Zapernick found Arjun Atwal in the slot and the newly reigned MVP of the Crusaders made no mistake to plot his 25th goal of the year.
The Crusaders would go on to add yet another goal in this game as an ice burner from Jacob Franczak took multiple deflections in front of the net and ended with Jack Hamly being credited for the Crusaders 5th goal of the night.
That would be it for scoring as the Crusaders take a convincing 5-1 win to close out the regular season and set a new franchise record of 44 wins in a season.
- Goaltender Matt Berlin played outstanding tonight. Any opportunity that had the potential to be a dangerous scoring chance for the Storm was countered by his positionally sound play that allowed him to make saves look effortless all game long.
- Sherwood Park really stepped on the throats of the Storm in the third period, who didn’t even get anything close to a sniff of coming back into this one.
- After a tough going on the man advantage last night against the Oil Barons (despite the overtime winner), The Crusaders powerplay unit lived up to its 2nd in the AJHL ranking tonight as they converted on 3 of 4 opportunities on the man advantage.
- They did put themselves shorthanded 5 times in this game and even though they killed off 4 of the 5 Storm powerplays the team will definitely have to show more discipline in the playoffs against potentially must stronger competition. Really tough to add much else for downs in this one after the Crusaders played an unbelievable history-making game to set the new franchise record in regular season wins.
Up Next: The Crusaders get a well-deserved bye through the first round of playoffs, but make sure you use that week to get buckled up because this is only the beginning of what has so far been a fantasy of a season for the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
See you in the playoffs.