Saints Erase Deficit But End Up Falling 6-3 to Crusaders
By: Adam Kulak
Games between the Spruce Grove Saints and Sherwood Park Crusaders should always be circled on people?s calendars and tonight was no exception. However, it just wasn?t the result that the Saints were hoping for against their heated rival. It was a back and forth scoring night, but it would be the Crusaders prevailing by a 6-3 score here at the Grant Fuhr Arena as they continue to hold down top spot in the North. After dressing in Wednesday nights game in Lloydminster, Logan Lorenz, Ross Roloson and Tyler Palmer would suit up at home for the first time in Saints uniforms.
VIDEO: Gamache walks in and snipes one home in the Overland Container Transportation Highlight of the Night.#AJHL pic.twitter.com/USuzLfzNhs
— Spruce Grove Saints (@sgsaints) December 8, 2019
The Crusaders are the type of team where they don?t need many chances against you to take advantage. It wouldn?t take long for them to open the scoring as William Zapernick would put home the back-door feed just a minute into the game as Sherwood Park came out hot in this game.
They would add two more goals before the end of the period, early in the period again, Arjun Atwal would roof it short side on Max Duchesne to open up a two-goal lead less than 7 minutes into the game. The Saints had opportunities of their own, they had multiple close calls around the Crusaders net, but they weren?t able to get any consistent offensive pressure.
Arjun Atwal would add one more later in the period off a powerplay one-time blast. That would unfortunately end Max Duchesne?s night early for a second straight game as the Saints will look to right this ship in period?s 2 and 3.
Shots in the period were 12-7 for the Crusaders as the period would end with the Saints in a hole.
Things would start to turn around in a big way in the second period. The Saints special teams were fantastic in the middle frame and they kept building on each shift. Nick Leyer would kick off the scoring 6 minutes in off a 4-minute powerplay as he jams the puck past Jordan Frey, getting the Saints on the board.
The Saints penalty killers did an excellent job of taking away Sherwood Park?s dangerous plays by blocking shots and clearing the slot. Tyler Palmer also was lights out in net as he made multiple 10 bell saves to keep the Crusaders off the board in period 2.
With over 5 minutes to play, Grahame Gamache would beat Jordan Frey clean with a snapshot from the circle as the Saints capitalize on the powerplay again, going 2/4 in the period. They would kill off one more Crusaders powerplay late in the period as they have fought back to make this a 3-2 score.
Shots are 19-14 Crusaders after 40 minutes, things looked to potentially start snowballing for the Saints after one period but it?s now just a one goal game heading into the final frame.
It was a start to the period that the Saints could have hoped for. Just 3 minutes in, Nick Leyer would put home the loose puck to tie the game and send the Grant Fuhr Arena into a frenzy. The Saints fought all the way back after an early 3-0 deficit and looked to keep things going as the third period went on.
Unfortunately, that?s where the Saints good fortune would end, just seconds after they tied the game, a slashing penalty would hurt their momentum and give Sherwood Park a chance to grab the game right back. Late in the powerplay, Jarred White would finish off a beautiful tic tac toe play with Zapernick and Atwal, Tyler Palmer was terrific in this game, but he had absolutely no chance on that goal as the Crusaders instantly get the lead right back.
The Saints would press to try and tie the game up once again, they had several chances to generate offense and they got a man advantage late in the period for one more chance. Not only did the Saints not capitalize but they ended up with the puck in the back of their net. William Zapernick would walk through multiple Saints players for a shorthanded goal, really taking the air out of the sales. Jarred White would add an empty netter shortly after as the Saints drop a 6-3 decision to the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
It was a great effort by the Saints to erase the 3-0 deficit but several lapses late in the game came back to bite them. Special teams played a big role in this game as both teams would score two each on the man advantage but the Crusaders last powerplay goal was the dagger. The Saints did several good things tonight, but they know they let this one slip away. Fortunately, they will have an opportunity to bounce back tomorrow. They will be back here at 2:00PM for an afternoon battle with the Lloydminster Bobcats.