The Crusaders took on the Calgary Canucks on home ice on Thanksgiving weekend. They did not disappoint in the marquee matchup. 6-1 was the final score, and they wrap up the season series with the Canucks by outscoring them 13-2 over two games.
The Cru were without captain Tyler Jette on the back end as he continues to battle a knee injury. He was replaced in the lineup by Kyle Fulton.
Carter Gylander made his first AJHL appearance in Calgary last season, and got the start in his 5th AJHL game tonight against the team he beat at Showcase Weekend last week. Here’s how the game went down.
A fast start to the game for the crew saw the Canucks hemmed in their own zone for most of the period. This resulted in them taking an early penalty and setting up Michael Benning to score his first AJHL goal on a seeing-eye point shot. 1:17 later, Zafir Rawji found himself on a breakaway and made a slick forehand-backhand deke to slip it past Brett Balas for his first career goal. Yes, that’s two career milestones coming in less than two minute for the youngsters.
The Canucks responded at the end of the period with the puck bouncing to Justin Giacomin on a power play. He buried it from the left slot and cut the lead in half.
It almost seemed as if the Crusaders could do no wrong in the first period, spending most of the time in the offensive zone. The second period was a different story. It was hotly contested and physical at times. The Canucks matched the Crusaders stride for stride and found their way into the offensive zone, but just couldn’t beat Gylander. Halfway through the period, Zafir Rawji returned the favour for his linemate Tanner Fincaryk, setting him up for a goal at 10:57.
You know you can’t keep Carter Savoie off the scoresheet for long either. He buried a feed from Arjun Atwal, who extended his point streak to seven games on the play.That made it 4-1. The Cru outshot the Canucks 20-9 in the frame.
At this point, all the Cru had to do was hold on. They did a great job denying zone entry to the Canucks, not surrendering many offensive chances. Both big power forwards, Brett Wieschorster and Tyson Scott added the daggers in this period to make it 6-1. Things got a little chippy when Max Struss started running around and blasted Wieschorster from behind right in front of both benches. A scrum turned into a mini line brawl, though no actual fights broke out. Despite a fantastic game from Canucks goaltender Brett Balas, who made 40 saves, the Cru took this one 6-1.
- Another phenomenal game from the fourth line of Aucoin-Fincaryk-Rawji. They’re far from a liability in their own end and can put up points when called upon.
- Gylander was solid in another appearance, but he didn’t need to be as the defence did a great job clearing pucks and bodies away from the front of the net.
- The Crusaders responded well in the third after seeming sleepy in the second period.
- The beat a lesser team. Simple as that. They won a game they should’ve won and continued a decent start to the season.
- After a hot start, the Canucks controlled much of the play in the second period, adding to a season where the team needs to work on full 60-minute efforts.
- Discipline was a factor again. The Cru took eight penalties…something that’s becoming a common theme with the team.
The Crusaders have a quick turnaround tomorrow afternoon in Camrose at the Encana Arena. 2 p.m. is the start time. Matt Berlin is expected to start and Tyler Jette is probable to return to the lineup.