FINAL SCORE: Sherwood Park Crusaders 4, Calgary Canucks 2
It was one of those games that makes you wish that the North and South divisions visited each other more often.
The Calgary Canucks were in town for a rare visit to the Sherwood Park Arena, and right from the puck drop, both teams made it obvious that they came to play. The Canucks took it to the Crusaders and gained the early momentum, not allowing the Crusaders into the offensive zone often in the games first ten minutes. The Crusaders had some trouble completing tape-to-tape passes early, which allowed the Canucks to gain some early pressure. However, the Cru got their legs under them, and turned the period into a highly entertaining affair. While the Cru’s top line of Merritt Oszytko, Alex Rotundo, and Tyler Maltby managed some great pressure, it was the Canucks who struck first on the powerplay, as Ben Assad put one past Zac Klassen. Former Crusader Brett van Os assisted on the play in his return to the Sherwood Park Arena. However, the lead was short lived as Merritt Oszytko scored :22 seconds later on a feed from the Crusaders current Player of the Month, Alex Rotundo. The goal seemed to spark the Cru, as the physical play increased for the rest of the period, and culminating in Tyler Maltby leading a couple hitting clinics at the whistle to end the period.
The second began much like the first; the Crusaders game out flying, creating a number of solid chances in the early minutes of the period. The line of Readman/Younghans/J.Zaharichuk seemed especially into it, creating some solid offensive zone pressure. Both teams kept up the physical play in the 2nd, with both teams spending time in the sin bin. It was an entertaining period for both teams, going long periods without a whistle and treating the Arena’s fans to a display of old-school hockey. Even between the back and forth, however, only one goal was scored as Cam Reagan continued his stellar play, blasting home a shot from the point to give the Cru a 2-1 lead on the powerplay. Both Rotundo and Oszytko assisted on the play, giving each of them two point evenings. Again, not much to say but an entertaining period by both squads.
The third period may have been one of the hardest fought periods of hockey at the Sherwood Park Arena this season, as neither team seemed willing to give the other an inch. Both teams continued the quick, physical pace that we became accustomed to in the first two periods, with both teams goaltenders (Logan Drackett for the Canucks, Zac Klassen for the Crusaders) making great saves and turning chances away from each team left and right. Something had to give, and 2:38 into the period, something did, as Brendan Stafford crashed the net and scored on a wide open net, courtesy of a Gage Joel rebound. Just when it looked like the Cru were going to close the deal, Parker Ward of the Canucks capitalized on a cross-crease pass from Dylan Williamson to pull the squad from Calgary within one. However, it was as close as they would get, as Ty Readman sealed the game with an empty net tally. Overall, a big win for the Crusaders tonight, and a statement they can compete with any team in the league.
- Koletrane Wilson is steadily developing into quite the defenseman for the Crusaders. Throughout the night, Wilson routinely made the smart plays and was a monster in the defensive zone, blocking numerous Canucks shots.
- The Cru were able to bend and not break multiple times tonight – the Canucks showed why they’re a top team in the Viterra South division, but the Crusaders held their own and outplayed the Calgary squad by the end of the contest.
- Both Alex Rotundo and Cameron Reagan showed why they’ve been recognized as the Sherwood Ford Crusaders of the Month and Week, respectively. Both had outstanding games and were arguably the best players on the ice.
- Lots of good pressure from the Crusaders on their multiple powerplays, resulting in a goal
- Brendan Stafford was rewarded with a goal tonight crashing the net; something that frankly should be happening more this season. Stafford routinely earns high quality chances for the Crusaders, and it was nice to see him put one in the back of the net.
- Although not scoring a point, Tyler Maltby showed why he was a key contributor for the Crusaders success, routinely laying out opponents and as a stabilizing presence on the ice.
- Merritt Oszytko had one of his best games in a Crusader uniform tonight, scoring a goal and two assists, while just barely missing on a second tally as well.
- Not the best start for the Crusaders tonight. The Canucks definitely came out with more jump and were all over the Cru in the games first five minutes
- The Cru seemed to have some difficulty making crisp passes to begin the game, resulting in a couple missed plays that could have been huge to start.
- In the first half of the game, the Crusaders were goaded into taking a few penalties while a Canucks player was already on his way to the sin bin, negating a couple powerplays. A couple potential opportunities were lost, when just a little more discipline could have turned the tides even further in the Crusaders favour.
- The team likely could have had a few more goals, but couldn’t capitalize on a few shots. A few team members will be disappointed with themselves going home goalless, but a huge shout out goes to Canucks goaltender Logan Drackett, who consistently showed tonight why he’s one of the top goaltenders in the league.
THE TURNING POINT
A double dose of the Turning Point tonight, as a couple critical plays really sparked the Crusaders. Firstly, on a late 4vs4, the Canucks had a gaping net staring at them after a cross ice pass. However, Cru defenseman Chase Torontow was able to dive across and save the goal to keep the game tied 1-1. Secondly, right at the buzzer, Crusaders power forward Tyler Maltby ran through a couple Canucks defenders with huge hits, which gave a buzz to both the crowd and the Cru, who came out blazing in the 2nd period.
The Crusaders have round two of their Battle of Alberta weekend, playing host to the Calgary Mustangs tomorrow night. Puck drops at 7pm at the Sherwood Park Arena & Sports Centre.