Saints beat Crusaders 3-1 in first Meeting of the Season
By: Adam Kulak
Both the Saints and Crusaders probably had this weekends games circled on their calendars for a while. After an exciting 6 game series last spring in the North Division Final, the Saint sand Crusaders would meet for the first time this season. It was a tight battle all night, but it would be the Saints coming out victorious.
Matt Davis was brilliant in this game stopping 38 of 39 shots. Matt Davis? younger brother Jayden would also make his AJHL debut, Jayden impressed in the preseason and he would get an opportunity with injuries to step in and make and impact against a great team.
The fans here at the Sherwood Park Arena would see a fast paced, tight game in the opening 20 minutes of play. The Saints and Crusaders were both getting great looks in and around the net, coming close to breaking the tie a few times.
There were close calls that were either blocked or cleared away just in time to preserve the tie. The Saints would get two opportunities on the man advantage but couldn?t break through Sherwood Park?s penalty killing.
The shots were 10-10 in the period but both goaltenders stood tall and we would head into the second period scoreless.
It would be the Crusaders who struck first as Michael Benning would fire a shot from the far circle to beat Matt Davis 5 minutes into the period. The Saints would respond not long after, as a minute and a half later, Riley Bodnarchuk beat Carter Gylander over the shoulder with a shot from the point, tying things right back up.
Sherwood Park peppered the Saints with 21 shots in the second period, but Matt Davis was fantastic. An example of how great he was, came shortly later with arguably the save of the year in the AJHL so far.
After the initial shot, the puck then came to Carter Savoie back door with a yawning cage. Probably 99 times out of 100, Savoie finishes that shot, but not this time as Davis would slide over to make an unbelievable glove save. Savoie probably still can?t believe it as the game would remain tied after that save.
Later in the period, Colson Gengenbach would make a great play getting into the zone, taking on two Crusaders before feeding Cameron Chin at the point. Chin would take the feed, walk in and beat Carter Gylander top corner just like the Saints first goal to give them their first lead of the night.
That would be how the period would end, the Saints will start the third with 1:52 of Powerplay time to try an extend their lead to two goals.
After the Crusaders dominated the shots in the second period, the Saints came out with a push of their own in the third. You can?t just sit back against a team like Sherwood Park and just try and hold a lead. The Saints knew that, and they continued to try and push for more in the final 20 minutes.
They would get more insurance halfway through the period, as Grahame Gamache would hit Cole Basnett with a breakaway feed and he made no mistake, extending the lead to two. That would be Basnett?s 4th on the season as the Saints start to take control of this game.
Sherwood Park pulled Carter Gylander with 2 minutes left trying to get two quick goals. However, they would not manage to beat Davis again as they had no answer for him outside of their first goal. And after a heated contest, it would be the Saints that would come out on top with a 3-1 victory and handing the Crusaders just their 2nd loss of the season.
They will look to hand them their 3rd loss tomorrow night as they welcome them to the Grant Fuhr Arena for what should be another spirited battle, game time is 7:00pm.