FINAL SCORE: Sherwood Park Crusaders 5 Bonnyville Pontiacs 7
Bonnyville lead the series 2-1
It was a highly entertaining first period of playoff hockey at the Sherwood Park Arena. To start out the game, neither team wanted to give the other team the edge, with the early minutes being played mostly in the neutral zone. Alex Rotundo gave his team a spark with a big hit in front of the home bench which got the crowd into the game. The Crusaders first opportunity came after a Ben Sowa shot was tipped by Ty Readman, causing the Pontiacs goalie to make a big save. Shortly after, the home side found themselves on the penalty kill after Brett Roberts got two for boarding. On the Pontiacs powerplay, Bonnyville put plenty of pressure on the Cru’s penalty killers refusing to let them clear the puck despite numerous attempts. Once the Cru did clear the puck, Tanner Younghans pressed hard on the Bonnyville puck handlers. The pressure resulted in the Pontiacs giving up the puck to Ryan Rebelato, who opened up the scoring giving the Cru a 1-0 lead. After that, the Crusaders offense found some life for a while but the Pontiacs would tie it up courtesy of Mitchell Oliver on the powerplay. One more goal was added when Tyler Maltby’s shot from the high slot was stopped but rebounded out to Merritt Oszytko for the easy goal. The period ended with the Crusaders up 2-1 over the Pontiacs.
The second was a goal fest with five being scored in total. The first came 31 seconds into the period when Pontiacs forward Ryan Piche fired it passed Vogel. This came after some immense pressure from the Pontiacs which continued for the entire period. Bonnyville would add another from a tip-in goal off the stick of Piche, again. Within the first 10 minutes, the Crusaders were put on the penalty kill twice, once from Ben Sowa, the other came when Chase Torontow and Tanner Younghans were sent to the box for roughing (Torontow’s penalty was an offsetting penalty). All of those penalties were killed off by the Cru. It wasn’t until the 11-minute mark that the Crusaders had their first shot on goal in the period. This was mostly because of the penalties they had to kill but also the pressure they were put under by Bonnyville. Despite the lack of shots, Tyler Maltby tied up the game for the Cru. Jesse Zaharichuk froze the goalie on the fake shot then passed it to Maltby who had a wide open net to shoot at, 3-3. Right after, Ashton Casault had a golden opportunity to put the Cru up 4-3 but couldn’t find his finishing touch. The home side gained plenty of momentum after the goal; however, it would soon be killed off due to Ryan Piche, who buried his third of the game to give Bonnyville the lead. With two minutes left, Tyler Maltby came flying into the Pontiacs zone and was tripped by a defenseman sending the Cru on a powerplay. The boys would make them pay courtesy of Readman, who showed great patience (as per usual) and sniped it top shelf to send both teams into the locker room tied at 4.
It was like deja vu the way the third period started with Bonnyville scoring 25 seconds in, not the way the Crusaders wanted to start out the period. Some more disappointment came soon after, Matt Dykstra went crashing into the boards and was unable to skate off the ice under his own power, from what I saw it looked like a knee injury. A little while later, the Cru found got put on the power play again after Merritt Oszytko was sent flying by Gen Bryshun. Whilst on the powerplay, Ty Readman drew a slashing penalty giving the Cru a 5 on 3 opportunity and it didn’t take them long to find the net. Tyler Maltby slid the puck right across the crease for an easy tap-in goal for Jesse Zaharichuk, 5-5. This goal did not phase Bonnyville, though, who went on to kill the second penalty and score themselves a goal. Pontiacs forward Derek Brown managed to get one past Vogel right under his right arm. That goal may be the only mistake the young netminder has made the whole series which resulted in his team losing the game. Bonnyville would go on to add an empty net goal.
Overall, it was an extremely exciting game of hockey. The game had goals, hits, and a great playoff atmosphere. This game really could’ve gone either way but unfortunately, it wasn’t the Crusaders night. If the team does want to win tomorrow night they’ll have to bring nothing but their A game.
- Despite allowing six goals, Brandon Vogel was strong in his crease again for the Cru. The rookie netminder has now faced 124 shots in three games and is a huge reason why this series is going to four games.
- Tanner Younghans gave it everything he had tonight. He brought great pressure, threw his body around, and managed to pick up an assist on the Rebelato goal.
- The Crusaders first line of Maltby, Readman, and Oszytko had another good offensive night with all three of them getting on the score sheet.
- Even when it looked like the game was over, the Cru kept finding ways to not let it slip away from them. The boys should great determination for the whole game.
- They only had 23 shots on goal but managed to score 5 showing that they didn’t waste their opportunities.
- They allowed Bonnyville to have too many shots on goal. Vogel may be playing great but you still can’t allow the opposition to have that many shots. Especially when you’re only averaging around 20 shots for as a team.
- The Cru didn’t put the Pontiacs on to much pressure. They allowed Bonnyville to move the puck around which lead to a couple of their goals. They showed that when they put them under pressure they make mistakes but apparently they didn’t pick up on that.
- They took too many penalties. As I said earlier, the first 10 minutes of the second were spent on the penalty kill. You’re not going to win hockey games if you have one less player on the ice than they do.
- The early goals always kill the Crusaders and the same can be said about tonight. They’ve got to figure out a way so that they’re the ones scoring early.
THE TURNING POINT:
The second period really changed the whole game. After the first, both teams were equally matched with neither on making a mistake, the same cannot be said about the second. Bonnyville came out the gates flying getting themselves a goal right away. They didn’t lose any momentum from that goal for the rest of the game which ultimately helped them win the game.
We are back at the Sherwood Park Arena again tomorrow for game four of this series, the puck will drop at 7 pm.