After a hard fought battle with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons that went six games the Cru have found themselves in the Divisional Round of the playoffs! Meeting them there are the Spruce Grove Saints for a heavyweight matchup between two of the top three teams in the league.
Carter Savoie and Garrett Clegg found themselves in the top-three in scoring for the Cru through the post-season much they had all regular season. Both players were sure to be heavy contributors with just one round left between them and the Championship Round.
Spruce Grove brought some fire power of its own with Logan Ganie and Parker Saretsky leading the team in playoff points with 10 and 9 respectively. This match-up will surely come down to goaltending with Matt Berlin and Matthew Davis both being strong back bones for their team’s success in the 2019 playoffs.
The regular season series belonged to the Crusader with them holding a 4-2 record in the six games. Garrett Clegg was the leading scorer in that series with eight points in six games. Friday night’s Game 1 was sure to showcase a tonne of fireworks and excitement as this rivalry came down with everything on the line!
Here’s how it went down inside of a packed Sherwood Park Arena!
The first period opened with a very quick and energetic pace, especially for the Saints. Spruce Grove showed blazing speed early and it looked as though the Cru had trouble keeping up. That speed and heavy offensive zone time led to the Saints opening up the scoring just over a minute into the first period. After a Cru turnover from behind their own net Seth Fyten sniped one past Matt Berlin for the early 1-0 Spruce Grove lead.
The Cru had trouble leaving their own zone through most of the first period but was able to match Spruce Grove with a few chances of their own. Matt Berlin held his own after the first goal of the game turning away shot after shot to keep the Cru in the game.
After the Cru was able to settle down a bit while trying to match the intensity of the Saints they were able to connect on a few passes. They would tie the game with five minutes left in the period when Nick Bowman fed a pass through the seam in the slot to Jacob Franczak who buried it five-hole knotting the game up at one.
Spruce Grove took the lead back with 47 seconds left in the period off another takeaway from behind the Cru net. Ryan Peckford beat Berlin and found the back of the net giving the Saints a 2-1 lead after one period of play.
The heavyweight battle continued into the second period with both teams trading blows back and forth.Matt Berlin continued to come up huge for the Cru with two sprawling saves early in the period. Then it was Matthew Davis’ turn to shine as Jack Hamly broke out down the wing and sniped a shot that Davis controlled nicely in the chest.
Things started to get a bit more chippy midway through the period with players from both teams taking the odd shot mixed with a scrum or two. The first penalty of the game was called halfway through the period Dyan Bourlai took a tripping penalty for the Saints.
But it wasn’t until 13 minutes into the second frame when the Saints took a roughing penalty, where the Cru would capitalize. On the powerplay, Michael Benning fed a pass across the blue line to Carter Savoie who one-timed a rocket past Davis and into the net for the 2-2 tie.
The Cru were able to regain some ground that gave up in the first period with more chances and time in the offensive zone, and after an interference penalty on the Saints, the Cru would start the third on the man-advantage.
The third period was met with just as much explosiveness as the first two with both goaltenders coming up huge on both ends of the ice. Nick Bowman broke out on a 2 on 1 with Michael Benning who got off a beautiful shot, but Davis made an even better save keeping the game tied at two.
Just over halfway through the third period, the physicality ramped up especially for the Cru. There was a series with about three or four monstrous hits from Tyler Jette and the rest of the Cru. The packed crowd lit up with a roar after each collision which must have sparked something in the Cru because a few minutes later they’d take the lead.
The Cru set possession up in the offensive zone and Jette set up Reid Irwin at the blue-line who one-timed a shot that found the back of the net giving the Cru the 3-2 lead with five minutes left in the game. Nick Bowman added an empty netter to give the Cru the 4-2 lead and eventual win. The Cru take a 1-0 lead in the Divisional Series after an intense and hard fought game.
- The Cru were able to hang in against the Saints despite looking like they were outmatched a bit early in the game.
- Sherwood Park showed a lot of physicality especially late, but played a disciplined game and didn’t take too many penalties. Then they did the penalty kill was more than efficient.
- The Cru did not let up all game long. This year they’ve had moments where the second period seemed to be one where they slowed down a bit. That was not the case in this one as they played at a high level from start to finish.
- Marr Berlin had an amazing game. Berlin stopped 25 of 27 shots he faced and kept the team in it not allowing a goal after the first period.
- Spruce Grove was known to be a tough match coming into this one and the Cru held their own and then some trading punch for punch all night long and holding on for the win.
- Spruce Grove looked too fast for the Cru early in the game jumping out to the fast lead and took a 2-1 lead into the second. It seemed the Cru fell out of their own game a bit trying to keep up.
- Too many turnovers early in the game that lead to two goals for Spruce Grove.
- Early in the game, the passing for the Cru was off target and a little shaky but things would balance out for them.
Game 2 of the Divisional Series will go down Saturday night from the Sherwood Park Arena. Puck drop is at 7pm. After a hard fought win in Game 1, jumping out to a 2-0 series lead would be huge for the Crusader.