photo via: Target Photography
The 2018-19 season did not get off to a great start for the Sherwood Park Crusaders as they dropped their season opener in Drayton Valley. They started strong and held a three-goal lead, but a pair of Thunder goals in the 3rd sent the game to overtime.
In the extra frame, Tanner Hopps would find the back of the net, giving Drayton Valley the win on opening night. A tough loss for the Crusaders, who just couldn’t piece together a full 60 minutes.
Tonight, it was time for redemption as these two teams battled it out once again, this time at the Sherwood Park Arena. Here’s how it went down:
The home crowd appeared to have sparked the Cru as they came flying out of the gate. They were pouring shots onto Thunder goalie Shawn Parkinson but couldn’t beat him. They would also grab the first powerplay of the game but came out of it empty-handed.
Drayton Valley would open the scoring at the 13:27 mark of the opening period thanks to a misplay by the Crusaders behind their own net. Korbyn Chabot would end up sliding the puck into an open net.
The goal sparked the Thunder as they dominated for a solid five minutes after that goal. The Cru was able to grab back momentum in the final few minutes, generating a ton of chances, but couldn’t tie the game.
The first period was full of offensive chances and lots of energy. The second period was not.
Both teams came out a little flat, and there wasn’t a lot of action, just the teams skating end-to-end. The Crusaders then got into some penalty trouble, and just seconds after giving the Thunder a four-minute powerplay, they would surrender another goal. A point shot from Zach Aston would get deflected home by Tanner Hopps.
Then just over the three minutes later Ty Whitford would walk out of the corner and release a nifty backhander than would find the back of the net. A gorgeous play that put the Thunder up 3-0.
Less than an inspiring effort by the Crusaders in the middle frame.
Down by three, the Crusaders needed a lot to go right if they wanted to get back into this game. Instead, a lot went wrong. The Cru had trouble staying out of the box. It’s tough to comeback when you’re playing shorthanded.
Despite being on the PK early in the third, the Cru were able to cut the Thunder lead to 3-1 thanks to a William Zapernick shorthanded goal. Cam Aucion got the rush going, and he was fantastic on the PK. He was one of the lone bright spots for the Crusaders tonight.
Give credit to the Thunder for how they played tonight, just 18 seconds after the Crusaders got on the board, Korbyn Chabot ripped home a wrist shot and restored the three-goal lead. Chabot would complete the hat-trick a few minutes later.
5-1 would be the final score as the Crusaders disappoint the home crowd.
- For the second straight game, the Crusaders got off to a fantastic start. They didn’t get a goal, but for the first ten minutes of the game, they were the better team.
- Their powerplay didn’t get a goal, but I thought they were productive. They created a lot of chances, and it seemed like whenever they got a chance with the man advantage, they generated a lot of momentum. Rookies Michael Benning and Carter Savoie looked incredibly running the top powerplay unit as well.
- Carter Gylander had a solid night. Apart from the bad bounce behind the net, you can’t blame him for any of the goals that beat him.
- This team couldn’t stay engaged for a full 60 minutes. The second period was a massive lull for the Cru, and they just had too many shifts where they just couldn’t complete simple passes.
- Penalties were a massive problem. Seven minor penalties and twice they surrendered powerplay goals. It would have been easier to stay in this game if they weren’t spending so much time shorthanded.
- The Crusaders had a lot of zone time at the beginning of this game, but they fired a very alarming rate of shots high or wide of the net. The Thunder took advantage of their chances; the Cru can’t say the same thing. If they had buried a goal early in the game when they had a bunch of looks, this game would have been very different.
The Cru will look to get their first win of the season on Wednesday when they host their North Division rivals, the Bonnyville Pontiacs. TICKETS