BANFF – The high flying Sherwood Park Crusaders kept its impressive winning streak alive with a 5-2 win against the Canmore Eagles at the Banff Fenlands rec centre on Friday (Oct. 4) night.
Both sides started the game with a high intensity. The Eagles played with a quick tempo and forced the Crusaders physically. But despite the high energy, the team failed to gain sustained puck possession in the offensive zone.
“I thought we executed our game plan really well in the first 10 minutes and then we lost focus midway through the frame,” said Eagles head coach Andrew Milne.
Sherwood Park capitalized on its first power play of the game courtesy of Michael Benning.
“I shouldn’t have let in the first one, it was a soft goal,” said Eagles goaltender Devin Chapman. “It was sort of a downer for the team.”
Milne said the team has been plagued by “soft goals” in the early part of the season.
“I think mentally that one really hurt our guys," he said. "We started to sit back and panic a little bit.”
The Crusaders doubled that team's lead before the end of the first. Chapman made a great initial save, but Reid Irwin picked up the loose puck at the side of the net and scored.
The Eagles continued through the second period at a disadvantage. Sherwood Park scored two more goals in the first five minutes of the middle frame for a commanding 4-0 lead.
The Eagles struggled offensively and looked for a spark through physical play, pushing back and starting skirmishes after the whistle.
“We had to push back. We were harping on our guys to be harder to play against and I think they went over the line a little bit. But overall I felt our discipline was good,” Milne said.
The Eagles pulled one back late in the second, when Dylan Witzke corralled a rebound and beat the Crusaders net minder Carter Gylander.
The building erupted, but it was short lived, as 32 seconds later the Crusaders scored its fifth of the game.
In the third, the Eagles got to work in the offensive zone. Milne was happy with his side's work ethic in the third, and its ability to compete alongside one of the nation's top junior teams.
“Once we got some zone time and getting on the body, we started to cycle the puck and create some chances,” said Eagles forward Alex Young.
The home team capitalized on the last power play of the game, going one-for-four on the night. Connor Lyons scored with the assists coming from Witzke and Young.
On Sunday (Oct. 7) afternoon, the Eagles snapped their three game skid and got redemption as they defeated the Grand Prairie Storm 6-4 at the Banff Fenlands rec centre.
Third-year forward, Alex Young scored a pair of goals and added three helpers in the high scoring matinee, earning him the Canalta Hotels AJHL Player of the Week. Ownen Reith added two goals and two assists and Jared Bowman scored the game winning goal.
Goaltender Logan Dyck returned between the pipes and stopped 22 of 26 shots he face earning his second win of the season.
The Eagles will conclude their four game home stand in Banff on Friday (Oct.11) against the Olds Grizzlies. Canmore will return to their home arena at the Canmore Recreation Centre on Oct. 23.