The Cru were riding a four-game win streak heading into the game Friday night against the Bonnyville Pontiacs. It was set to be a good one as both teams were sharing identical seasons while tied at the top of the North Division with 40 points a piece.
The Cru had only lost one game in the month of November and were looking toward this clash of the leagues best over the weekend with Bonnyville in town Friday and the Brooks Bandits stopping by Saturday with a league best 44 points. They would be without Michael Bentz who saw himself out of the line-up serving his second of a two-game suspension for hitting from behind on November 16th against Drumheller.
Staying hot and keeping the wins rolling wasn’t the only streak on the line for the Cru as Garrett Clegg looked to add to his scoring streak of two straight games with a goal. Add to that Arjun Atwal holding a six-game streak with an assist and suddenly there was a lot riding on the Friday matchup with the division rival.
Here’s how it went down:
It was a defensive start to the first period with a total of six shots between both teams through the first 10 minutes. The Cru were only able to generate one shot on net in that time with Bonnyville keeping them in check through most of the period. In fact, The Pontiacs dominated the first period outshooting the Cru 16-4 after one frame of play.
It was a physical start to the game for Bonnyville as well with hits coming left and right. Carter Savoie took a hit high early in the period from Jeremy Gervais, with Gervais being issued a roughing penalty.
The chippy play carried through the period with a couple of scrums in front of both nets and even a fight between Cru Captain Tyler Jette and Brendan Morrow of the Pontiacs.
Now for the scoring! Bonnyville got on the board first just over five minutes into the period when Sean Thomson banged one home down low in the corner of the net. Sherwood Park would tie it six minutes later after Matthew Monk of Bonnyville took a hooking penalty.On the powerplay Michael Benning blasted a shot from the blue line into the back of the net for the 1-1 tie. Things did not go the Cru’s way after that. Cayden Kraus banged home a rebound that Cru goaltender Matt Berlin seemed to lose sight of in the crease for the 2-1 Pontiacs lead.
Then with just under a minute left Sean Thomson cleaned up another rebound glove-side past a sprawling Berlin as Bonnyville took a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
The Cru upped the intensity in the second period balancing out the shot total to 31-23 for Bonyville while generating more scoring chances. Jake Franczak broke down the wing after a missed Pontiac hit, but could not get it passed Colby Muise who was spectacular all game.
Franczak found another chance down low in the slot as well as Erik Miller off a turnover a few minutes later but neither could solve the Pontiac net-minder.
The chippy play continued through the second with more scrums in front of the net and as the Cru were continuously denied on scoring chances, they started taking that aggression out on the opposing team. Tyson Scott took Garin Butler down to the ice during one of those scrums resulting in a rouging penalty.
While on the power play Bonnyville broke out on a two-on-one with Bobby Young feeding Lucas Thorne a beautiful cross-ice pass. Thorne buried it past Berlin for the 4-1 Pontiac lead, one they took into the second intermission.
The Cru kept the energy up in the third period outshooting the Pontiacs 13-9 but much like the rest of the game they just couldn’t find a way to solve the great goaltending by Colby Muise. The physical play continued and so did the penalties with a total of five called in the period.
Down by three with just over four minutes left the Cru pulled Matt Berlin for the extra attacker. It would backfire however with Tre Thomas adding the empty netter for the 5-1 Pontiac lead and eventual victory.
The Cru despite some good chances faced outstanding goaltending and were outplayed in this one almost from the start. The Bonnyville back-check was impressive all game. It would seem like the Cru were about to break out numerous times only to be met by a Pontiac defender before getting a decent shot attempt.
- The Cru were able to bring life to their game midway through the second period and keep it going with a strong finish, it just wasn’t enough.
- Michael Benning showcased his great passing throughout the game setting up chances as well as showing his cannon of a shot from the blue-line for the Cru’s only goal.
- The physical game was nice to see from the Cru but it led to too many penalties.
- The Cru were outplayed in this one almost from the first face-off and even as they ramped up the energy late, they never seemed to be able to match what Bonnyville brought.
- The Cru were rarely able to get much going or hold offensive possession long enough to generate a real solid scoring chance.
- At times it seemed like the Cru allowed the Pontiacs to get under their skin or in their heads. They found themselves down early but they ended up trying to beat Bonnyville with the physical game which ended with more penalties than anything.
- Losing to the North Division rival gives the Pontiacs sole possession of first place and snaps the Cru’s four-game win streak.
The Cru will be looking to get back into the win column when they take on the Brooks Bandits Saturday night from the Sherwood Park Arena. Puck drop is at 7pm as the Cru welcome the league’s best team to town.