By Adam Kulak

A wild night here at the Grant Fuhr Arena that unfortunately ends in the wrong result.  After a rough first 2 periods the Saints would erase a 4-1 deficit in the 3rd but couldn’t pull out the win as Sherwood Park would take this one 6-5.  Due to injuries and the Canada Jr. A challenge, the Saints were missing a lot of regulars tonight as Davis, Babichuk, Lloyd, Hickey, Trentham, Mitchell and Saretsky were all not available for tonight’s game.  Evan Wood would make his Saints debut after being acquired earlier in the week from Lloydminster and Daron Cyr would also make his debut after being called up from Midget AAA.  Liam McCloskey would start between the pipes in this one as the Saints would try to even the season series with Sherwood Park.

Sherwood Park came out strong in this one but both teams had good stretches of play in the 1st period.  The Crusaders were able to establish offensive zone time and generate shots from quality areas.  They would strike first as Connor Hart took a feed from Garrett Clegg streaking in from the point and would beat Liam McCloskey for the 1-0 lead.  Not a lot happened for the rest of the period until the last 5 minutes.  Dylan Bourlai would battle in front of the net and get the rebound on the doorstep for his 9th of the season to tie the game at 1.  Then came the penalties as there were 6 in the last few minutes.  Clegg and Savoie for Sherwood Park and Cooley and Basnett for Spruce Grove all got coincidental minors after a net front scrum.  A few seconds later Alex Dalton would go off for interference, but the Saints would kill it off.  Unfortunately, Cole Basnett would get called for elbowing with a minute left and the Crusaders would capitalize on the powerplay.  Nick Bowman let a shot go from the top of the circle to give the Crusaders a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes, shots in the period were 12-9 for Sherwood Park.

Things started to go south in the 2nd period for the Saints.  Just under 2 minutes in, Garrett Clegg would take a cross crease feed from Carter Savoie to give the Crusaders a 3-1 lead.  Things would go from bad to worse a few minutes later as the Saints would get a powerplay opportunity, but 10 seconds into the man advantage, a miss communication between McCloskey and Edwards behind the Saints net and William Zapernick would get the puck back and score shorthanded to make it 4-1.  Sherwood Park were aggressive in the way they pursued pucks and they had the puck for long stretches in the period.  The Saints, missing key players, had a tough time creating any sort of offense in this game.  Anytime these two teams play each other it’s going to get nasty as there were 10 penalties in the 2nd frame.  There was a line brawl with 7 seconds left which the Saints came out of with a 5 on 3 powerplay.  They would continue the 5 on 3 to begin the third, shots after 40 were 18-15 for Sherwood Park.

After struggling to create any offense in this game, few people probably could have predicted the type of start to the 3rd that the Saints would have.  The Saints came out blistering fast, scoring 3 goals in 3 minutes to stun the Crusaders and tie the game at 4.  That gave the Saints life and they found their legs after that scoring burst.  Sherwood Park didn’t let that deflate them, and after calling a timeout they came back and tried to answer, and they did a few minutes later.  Garrett Clegg would bang in his 2nd of the game on the doorstep to give the Crusaders back the lead.  4 minutes later, a bad bounce results in a 2 on 1 and Tanner Fincaryk makes no mistake to give the Crusaders a 6-4 lead.  That would end Liam McCloskey’s night early as call up Andrei Proctor-Ramirez would enter the game in relief.  The Saints fought hard to tie it back up, Cole Basnett would get the Saints back within one with just under 2 minutes but that would be it as the Crusaders hold on to win this one 6-5.
The Saints are back in action Friday as they are in Drayton Valley to take on the Thunder.  They are back home on Sunday as they welcome the Grande Prairie Storm, puck drop at 2:00pm.