The long-awaited first round matchup between the Sherwood Park Crusaders and Grande Praire Storm started just how most expected it would, with a lot of fireworks.
The first two games have seen over 100 penalty minutes, nine total goals, and an overtime thriller.
“I think in game one, there were nerves for everyone and we got away from our playing style,” said Captain Brendan Kallis.
Game one didn’t go the way the Cru envisioned, but when you’re the lower seed in any playoff series, all that matter is finding a way to get a split, and Sherwood Park did that thanks to an impressive game two performance.
They trailed at two different points in the game but were able to climb back each time thanks to work of Ty Readman, Arjun Atwal, and Tyson Gruninger.
The game went to overtime, where the Cru outshot the Storm 12-1 before Dylan Stewart ended the game.
“We did a great job taking the play to them in overtime,” said Stewart “Once I saw McLeod shoot it, I snuck off my check and saw the puck sitting there”.
The win evened the series, which the team knows is huge.
“Getting the split in the first two games was huge for us,” added Kallis “We now have two games at home to try and close this thing out, rather than be chasing from down 0-2”.
Not only is a split of the first two games big for Sherwood Park, but so is the presence of Brandon Vogel between the pipes. The teams’ undisputed number one was banged up towards the end of the regular season and there were some questions about whether or not he would be available to play in this series.
Well, Vogel has appeared in both games and made 59 saves, allowing five goals along the way. He looked especially strong in game two when the Cru evened the series.
AROUND THE AJHL
There weren’t any shocking results in any of the series openers around the AJHL. All other five series saw the home teams win the opening game.
The team that was closest to an upset was the Bonnyville Pontiacs who managed to bring Fort McMurray to overtime but couldn’t find a way to score the winner, despite putting 15 shots on net in the extra frame.
While the Crusaders and Storm have tonight off, every other series will be in action.
Game three between Sherwood Park and Grande Praire goes Saturday at 8 pm. Keep it locked to BTI for your Cru Wrap!