The Sherwood Park Crusaders made their way back to Spruce Grove after a disappointing performance in game three which saw them lose 5-3 against the Saints.
Head Coach Adam Manah made plenty of changes to his lineup with Brennan McDonnell checking back in on the backend replacing rookie Kyle Fulton. Nick Bowman moved onto the first line replacing Will Zapernick who moved down to the third. Then finally, Brandon Wallis was slotted into the fourth line centreman position with Tanner Fincaryk moving to right wing on the third with Jack Hamly and Zapernick.
Here’s how this game played out:
It was a much more competitive Crusaders that came out to start game four versus the Saints. They created opportunities for themselves and got shots on goal before the Saints could get too far ahead like game three.
The best chance of the period for Sherwood Park fell to Brayden Hyland right in front of Matthew Davis. However, the Edmonton native was quick enough to his backend to beat the Saints shot-stopper and give the Crusaders a 1-0 lead.
Spruce Grove had a couple of powerplay opportunities with Tanner Fincaryk and Michael Bentz both serving separate minor penalties for holding. On the first powerplay, Matt Berlin stood tall between the pipes making a number of saves to keep the Saints at bay. Tyler Jette also made a great play intercepting the puck on a backdoor pass attempt which would’ve likely lead to Spruce Grove’s opening goal.
However, the Saints were able to open up the scoring on their second powerplay opportunity. Ryan Peckford found TJ Lloyd bursting into the back post who made no mistake in giving Spruce Grove a 1-0 lead which resulted in being the only goal of the period.
Berlin continued his strong playoff form with a solid opening five minutes of the period. His biggest stop came against Logan Gaine who he denied after going post to post.
Cole Basnett put the puck into an empty cage after a mad scramble in front, but the goal was quickly disallowed after Berlin lost his helmet in the process.
With just over 11 minutes to play in the period, Cameron Aucoin pounced on the puck, following a Brandon Wallis faceoff win, and beat Davis five-hole with a quick snapshot on goal to tie the game up at 1-1.
The Crusaders couldn’t stay in the game for long, though, with Peckford scoring potentially the goal of the postseason a minute later. Then, Jordan Biro beat Berlin with a one-timer making it 3-1 Saints just two minutes after Sherwood Park had tied the game up.
The Crusaders had their chances in the third period to pull themselves back into the game, but couldn’t find the answer to defeat Davis for the second time on the night.
Stanley Cooley closed out the game for the Saints beating Berlin short side to give Spruce Grove a 4-1 victory and tie to the series up at 2-2.
- Sherwood Park performed much better than they did in game three. They closed down the Saints, blocked off shooting lanes, and managed to created offence on a more consistent basis. The scoreline doesn’t reflect what happened on the ice, however, they still didn’t seem like they were going to win the game.
- Matt Berlin had a good game for the Crusaders. He kept them in the game for 60 minutes despite allowing the four goals. It’s fair to say the only one he could’ve maybe stopped was the Saints fourth goal, but by that point, the game was already over.
- Despite the much-improved play, we haven’t seen a typical Crusaders performance since game one of the series. Fans haven’t seen the likes of Carter Savoie, Arjun Atwal and the rest of their top players play at the level they’re capable of playing. The level of play needs to rise dramatically in game five if the Crusaders don’t want to fall behind in the series.
- They aren’t getting under the Saints skins. We saw it towards the end of game three when after almost every whistle in the final 10 minutes there was a scrum. That’s Crusaders hockey. The intensity in game five will be high which means we will likely see this aspect of their game return.
- Allowing two goals immediately after you score and get yourself back into the game is not ideal. It could’ve been a whole different hockey game if they hadn’t of switched off. However, saying that, Ryan Peckford’s goal was unbelievable and I am not taking any credit away from him.
Sherwood Park returns to the Sherwood Park Arena for game five of the series on Friday night. The puck drops at 7:00 p.m.